E.A. Sports Today

Another no-no

A year after yet-undiagnosed fracture limited her time in the circle, MVP Smith delivers Piedmont’s second no-hitter of area tournament as Bulldogs roll to title

Piedmont, the 2023 Class 3A, Area 10 champion. (Photo by Joe Medley)

At Piedmont
Piedmont 10, Saks 0
Wellborn 7, Weaver 5
Weaver 16, Saks 3
Winners’ bracket
Piedmont 13, Wellborn 0
Weaver 8, Welborn 4
Final round
Piedmont 11, Weaver 0

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

PIEDMONT — Savannah Smith’s physical pain a year ago had a rival, and it was her anguish.

It was softball’s postseason, and an injury of yet-unknown severity wouldn’t let the all-state pitcher/infielder do some things she normally does for her team.

“Last year, I didn’t feel like I really contributed a whole lot to the pitching staff,” she said.

What turned out to be a fractured tibia has long since mended, and she brought the full force of her game with a determined grunt on the follow through of every pitch in Tuesday’s Class 3A, Area 10 final.

Smith’s no-hitter plus plenty of offense from the tournament most valuable player and her teammates powered the Bulldogs to an 11-0 victory over Weaver on Piedmont’s home field. 

Both teams will advance to next week’s East Regional at Albertville, and Piedmont (35-14) looks as full strength as the Bulldogs have looked since winning the Calhoun County tournament early April.

They’ve won six consecutive games, including a 3-0 run through the Hokes Bluff pre-area tournament just ahead of the area tournament. They scored 34 runs and gave up none in three area-tourney wins. Smith, sophomore Carson Young and Emma Grace Todd combined to pitch two no-hitters and a three-hitter.

Smith had the no-hitter against Weaver on Tuesday, and Young pitched 39 pitches in a no-no against Saks on Monday. Todd pitched the three-hitter in a 13-0 victory over Wellborn in the winners’ bracket final.

“I’m just super proud of our pitchers,” Piedmont coach Rachel Smith said. “They worked so hard in the time leading up to the season.

“If you drive by here in preseason, you’ll see them out here throwing bullpens and working on location, leg drive and spin. It’s a brutal workout, and it’s a workout that happens after practice. They’re out there putting in the time, the pitchers and catchers are, and I think you’re seeing that paying off right now.”

Thanks partly to offense that included Armoni Perry’s second grand slam against Wellborn this season and Cayla Brothers’ two-run, opposite-field blast against Weaver, Piedmont’s trio of pitchers only had to work 15 innings in three area games.

Those were 15 efficient innings … no walks. Smith struck out 13 batters, and Todd struck out nine.

Young had no strikeouts but, again, no walks and no hits allowed.

Smith pitched 47 strikes out of 59 pitches Tuesday.

What a difference a year makes. She learned after last season that she’d been playing with a fractured tibia. 

She had a full offseason to rehab it, and her mom had some time to rethink how she handled pitchers.

“That’s something that we’ve been afraid of,” she said. “We wanted to try to spread the pitching around. … We don’t want to overwork any one person.”

The coach who started letting her pitcher-catcher battery call the game last season also spread out catching duties, hoping not to overuse Cacey Brothers in that role.

As for Smith, she’s full go as Piedmont reaches regional in search of its third consecutive state-tourney berth. 

“Getting to do that this year,” she said, “it just means so much to me that I get to help out and be a part of that,” she said.

Weaver, the 2023 Class 3A, Area 10 runner up. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Weaver history

As for Weaver (17-12), the Bearcats got what they came for Tuesday. Their 8-4 victory over Welborn in the tourney’s final elimination game got them to the area finals and clinched their second regional berth in school history and first since 2017.

Weaver came to the park with a theme, spelled out by assistant coach Andy Fulmer. Speaking like the two-time state-champion wrestling coach he is in the winter months, he broke the Bearcats’ Monday night huddle with gusto.

“All gas and no brakes,” pitcher and daughter Kynlee Fulmer said with a laugh, repeating her dad’s words.

Weaver had enough gas to get to the regional. The Bearcats mounted 10 hits against Wellborn, including two apiece from Kinley Marvasty and Sydney Bitzer. Marvasty had two RBIs.

Fulmer, meanwhile, spread out six hits with nine strikeouts and two walks.

“You set goals at the beginning of the year, and it was always on top of the list to get here,” Weaver head coach Gary Atchley said. “We tried to play well in the area tournament and get to regionals. We scratched off another goal for this year.”

All-tournament team

Saks: Mikalah Wilson.
Wellborn: Destiny Benefield, Autumn Parsons.
Weaver: Payton Marvasty, Kynlee Fulmer, Alana Cooper.
Piedmont: Jaycee Glover, Sarah Goss, Jenna Calvert, Emma Grace Todd, Armoni Perry, Savannah Smith (MVP). 

The Class 3A, Area 10 all-tournament team. (Photo by Joe Medley)

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