Monday, January 27, 2020






Alabama Christian Wins 4A State Title at AHSAA 2019 Softball Tourney at Lagoon Park

                                                   BY SHANE HERRMANN
MONTGOMERY – Alabama Christian came out of the elimination bracket to beat Rogers twice Saturday night to win the Class 4A State Softball Championship at Lagoon Park. The Class 1A finals were still underway with Brantley forcing an “if” game with a 9-8 win over Mars Hill Bible after emerging out of the elimination bracket.
    The Eagles (40-14), coached by John Goodman, were sent to the elimination bracket by the Pirates (28-20) of Coach Haley Stutts in a 2-1 loss in the second round of the winner’s bracket Friday.  ACA roared back to five straight games, including a 10-0 win over Rogers in the first game of the championships to force the “if necessary” deciding game the Eagles captured 8-7.
    The state was the 10th in school history for Alabama Christian. Rogers, which won the Class 1A girls’ state basketball  title last February, was seeking its first state softball crown.
   Game 15, the final contest of the very competitive Class 4A division may have been the most competitive of the entire tourney. It featured four lead changes. However, it was Alabama Christian which struck last. Aniya Jackson’s two-run home run gave ACA the 8-7 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning and Class 4A MVP Haley Pittman recorded three outs in the top of the seventh to seal the win.
    The blast by Jackson came minutes after Rogers had rallied from an early 5-1 deficit to take the lead. The Pirates scored three in the third and three more in the sixth to take a 7-6 lead. Heidi Garner put Rogers ahead with a two-run triple to right field. The Eagles wasted little time regaining the lead. The first batter reached on an error to bring Jackson to the plate for her game-winning blast.
    Monica Willingham and  Haley Ingram had two hits each and Pittman had a double and RBI.
    Rogers’ Garner had three hits and three RBIs, Savanna Henson had two hits and Karly Jones stroked a triple.
     Joining Pittman on the Class 4A All-State Tourney team were Hannah Price, Karly Jones and Gracie Rogers, all of Rogers, and Pittman’s ACA teammates Hayley Cassidy and Haley Ingram.

Game 14: Alabama Christian 10, Rogers 0 (5 innings)
    Alabama Christian scored all 10 runs over two innings to take control in the first game of the 4A tourney championship to force the ‘if” game. The Eagles recorded 12 hits in the mercy-rule win, highlighted by a three-run home run by Monica Willingham. Eagles teammate Jacqueline Costanza was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs and two runs scored. Haley Pittman was 2-for-4 at the plate and also recorded the shutout win in the pitching circle. She held the Pirates to two hits, both by Karly Jones.
Alabama Christian came out of the elimination bracket thanks to wins over Dale County (13-3), White Plains (10-0) and North Jackson (12-6) Saturday.

Game 12: Alabama Christian 10, White Plains 0 (5 innings)
   The Eagles scored 10 runs off 12 hits in just five innings of play. Eight of the nine batters in the lineup had at least one hit, including four players with two hits. Monica Willingham started the scoring with a grand slam homer in the first inning. The Eagles added two runs each in the top of the second, fourth and fifth frames. Haley Pittman struck out 10 to get the complete-game shutout.

Game 11: Rogers 1, North Jackson 0
    Hannah Price pitched a complete-game shutout to lead Rogers (28-18) into the 4A state tourney finals. The freshman allowed only two hits with five strikeouts in the win. The Pirates scored the game’s lone run in the bottom of the third inning. Gracie Rogers led off the frame with a double and later scored on an RBI-double by Karly Jones. Pitcher Josie Thompson kept North Jackson in striking distance. The senior had four hits and four strikeouts.

Game 10: White Plains 10, Good Hope 5
White Plains took the lead for good with a four-run fourth inning. Four more runs in the top of the seventh then put the game out of reach. Gracie Surrett was 4-for-5 with three RBIs.
    Emma Jones led off the game with a solo home run and finished 3-for-5 at the plate. Lily Ponder also drove in three runs on a pair of doubles in a 2-for-4 performance. Angelina Flanigan was a perfect 4-for-4 to pace Good Hope.

Game 9: Alabama Christian 4, Dale County 3 (9 innings)
    Hayley Cassidy led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a solo home run to give Alabama Christian the walk-off win to keep the Eagles’ championship hopes alive. ACA held an early 2-0 lead after Haley Pittman hit a two-run shot in the first inning.  She was 3-for-4 for the game and also got the pitching win after 11 strikeouts.
    Monica Willingham also singled and scored in the bottom of the sixth for the Eagles. Dale County scored all three runs in the top of the fourth. Joanna Marshall singled and later scored on a passed ball. Gracie Suggs then tied the game with a two-run single.

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