E.A. Sports Today

Wellborn strong

Lady Panthers put together two solid games to gain upper hand in Class 3A Area 9 tournament, punch ticket to regionals

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OHATCHEE – The players on the Wellborn softball team knew from the moment they stepped on the bus it was going to be a good day.

The Lady Panthers played two solid games in Class 3A Area 9 tournament at Ohatchee and handled Weaver (8-0) and Ohatchee (9-2) to advance to the regional tournament for the sixth time in the last nine years.

They will play Ohatchee Tuesday at 5 p.m. needing only to win once to repeat as area champions.

The Lady Panthers pounded 24 hits in the two games, eight for extra bases including first-game homers by Morgan Thompson and Lauren Hicks. Landon McDaniel pitched a four-hit shutout in the first game and gave up two unearned runs in the second game.

“I think it was pretty solid,” Hicks said. “Our team came out with the right tempo and the right mindset, and we came out here to win. We’ve played like this all year long, but our tempo has kind of dropped a little bit, but tonight when we walked out on the field we really came here to win.

“When we got out of class today to go change, we went down to our field and hit tees and I felt like just then, the atmosphere around us, the talk between players and stuff, we were ready to play.”

“We’ve played pretty good all season, but I think tonight was one of the best nights we’ve played,” added sophomore third baseman Blakley Cupp. “I think everybody was ready.”

The Lady Panthers’ approach all season has been to be aggressive and force the defense to make a play, and it worked well for them at Whitney Laine Gallahar Field.

Nothing screams aggressive more than the way they ran the bases. Twice in the win over top-seeded Ohatchee Cupp raced home from third to beat throws from first base. Cupp scored another run all the way from first on a double by Lauren Hicks. In the fourth inning Cupp and Hicks both scored on the same play to the plate.

“My theory is you don’t stop unless the defense stops you,” coach Brenda Vinson said. “We’re trying to be aggressive, but we’re trying to be smart aggressive.”

“Normally, I’m not really that aggressive, but this is area, I wanted to perform really good and make it better for the team,” Cupp said.

Cupp and Hicks both went 3-for-4 in the Ohatchee game. Hicks also made a fabulous catch at the fence in left field to take extra bases from Autumn Widgeon in the sixth inning when the game was still close.

Hicks was playing only her third game in the outfield after Vinson had a vision to move her catcher to bolster the defense out there.

“I felt like it brought our team up a little bit,” Hicks said of her catch.

Indeed. The Lady Panthers broke open the game with five runs in the seventh. Lynzee Hicks had the big hit, a two-run single.

“It’s awesome,” Vinson said. “We’ve got a couple seniors, three juniors and mostly sophomores. We’re playing eighth-graders. We’re young, but the way they’ve responded is just exciting. They’re a very, very, very solid team and they played like it today.”

You must be logged in to post a comment Login