E.A. Sports Today

Spring Sting

Burns’ home run highlights Friday’s action as Oxford avenges and early-season loss to Arab. White Plains opens with victory over Hokes Bluff.

Cover photo: Oxford’s Berkley Mooney comes out of her windup against Saraland during Friday’s action in the Spring Sting tournament at Choccolocco Park. (Photo by Joe Medley)

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — An 8-8 record says one thing about Oxford’s softball season. Potential upside says something else.

It’s coming in fits and starts for a team that made the state tournament a year ago and pushed the eventual Class 6A state champion to a one-run game.

Playing in its annual Spring Sting tournament on Friday at Choccolocco Park, Oxford lost to 6A third-ranked Saraland 5-4 in a game that saw senior pitcher and Montevallo signee Berkley Mooney leave the action after taking a line drive off of her left knee.

With Mooney resting in their second game, the Yellow Jackets got a three-run home run from senior shortstop and Wallace State Community College signee Ashlyn Burns and beat Arab 16-7.

The 12-team field also features White Plains, which began Friday with a 5-4 victory over Hokes Bluff then lost to Pell City 10-1 and Beauregard 6-3.

Oxford plays Plainview on Saturday at 9:30 a.m., and White Plains plays Oak Mountain at 11:30 a.m.

Oxford and White Plains are priming for the Calhoun County tournament, which plays out on the same fields starting Monday.

“I’m very proud of how we played,” veteran Oxford coach Wendy McKibbin said. “We hit the ball really well. We played two really good teams and made some good defensive plays.

“We’re right where we need to be at midseason.”

Mooney took the Arab game off. McKIbbin said Mooney’s knee had swelling, but she’s “fine.“

“She’ll be ready to go tomorrow,” McKibbin said.

Mooney pitched 3 2/3 innings before taking KSimmons’ liner off her knee and into right field. Two runs scored to tie the game 4-4.

Kaelyn Crossley finished the Saraland game and pitched the first two innings of the Arab game. Freshman Jayla Jackson entered with a 16-2 lead and pitched the final two innings.

Positive signs for an Oxford team that returned most of its production this season included Burns’ three-run home run to make it 7-0 in the second inning. Still working back to full strength after suffering a surgical injury to her left labrum in the Wetumpka game, she went 2-for-3 with two runs and five RBIs against Arab.

She was 1-for-2 with a run against Saraland.

“I’ve been struggling at the plate this season,” Burns said. “I’ve had to change my swing a couple of times.

“The bones in my shoulder have been all out of place. I had to go to the chiropractor and get it fixed, so I had to rechange my swing again, so being able to put that in play in the game was a big thing.”

Burns’ throwing (right) arm remains strong as ever. She made a relay throw from down the left-field line to shoot down a runner at home plate in the Arab game.

Other stars at the plate Friday included Crossley, who went 4-for-4 with four runs against Arab and 2-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs against Saraland.

Reagan Sanders went 3-for-4 with a double, a run and four RBIs against Arab.

After Friday’s action, Oxford is 8-3 after an 0-5 start that included losses to 6A No. 2 Helena, 7A top-ranked Thompson, 7A No. 8 Spain Park and 6A No. 9 Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa.

Beating Arab 16-7 on Friday avenged a 7-4 loss to the Knights during that 0-5 start.

“The beginning of the season was really rocky,” Burns said. “We were playing tough competition, but now, I feel like we’re playing more as a team, and we’re not playing timid.

“At the beginning of the season, we played really timid. Now, I think we’re just having fun and competing.”

White Plains’ Braeton Moran scores a run against Hokes Bluff during Friday’s action in the Oxford Spring Sting tournament at Choccolocco Park. (Photo by Joe Medley)

White Plains

The Wildcats (14-8) got a single and two RBIs apiece from Cassidy Arnold and Sara Kate Adams against Hokes Bluff.

Braeton Moran went 3-for-4 with a run, and Callie Richardson went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI.

Carli Fritts struck out 10 batters in 6 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and one earned run. Leighton Arnold got a strikeout for the final out.

Hokes Bluff’s Makenna Bennich had a single and an RBI.

Richardson had a double among White Plains’ three hits against Pell City, and Halie Smith had an RBI, and Leighton Arnold scored the Wildcats’ run.

Moran went 3-for-3 with an RBI against Beauregard, and Fritts had a double and two RBIs.

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