Monday, January 27, 2020






Mars Hill Bible Wins 1A State Softball Title to Conclude 2019 Softball Championships

MONTGOMERY – Mars Hill Bible High School’s Lady Panthers softball team closed out the 2019 AHSAA State Softball Championships Saturday night with a 7-6 win over defending state champion Brantley.
    The AHSAA crowned seven state champions in its State Softball Championships held at Lagoon Park.
    The Panthers (40-11) of Coach Matt Burgess rolled through the winner’s bracket undefeated – beating Brantley 5-0 in the second round of the winner’s bracket Friday. The Bulldogs (42-12) stormed through the elimination bracket to get to the finals, then beat Mars Hill 9-8 to set up the showdown with the Panthers in the “if necessary” game which concluded after 10 p.m.
    Mars Hill collected seven runs off 14 hits and held off Brantley for the Class 1A state title. The Panthers scored all seven runs in the first four innings.
    After allowing Brantley to score four runs in the first two innings, Mars Hill pitcher Riley Vaughn settled in and kept the Bulldogs offense at bay. Trailing 7-5 in the final inning, Brantley got a solo home run by Hannah Sims, but could get no closer.
     The Panthers broke a 4-4 tie with two runs in the top of the third inning to take the lead for good. RBI singles by Grace Stanfield and Kylie Thigpen gave Mars Hill a 6-4 lead and never trailed again. Emma Pettus was 4-for-4 in the championship game. Stanfield and Thigpen each finished with two hits and two RBIs for Mars Hill. Vaughn worked all seven innings to get the win in the circle. Brantley, coaches by Cindy Hawthorne, was led by Olivia Jones, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Emory Bush had  two hits and drove in two runs.
    Mars Hill Bible’s Erika Mitchell was selected Class 1A State Tourney MVP. Also named to the 1A All-State Tourney Team were Grace Stanfield and Riley Vaughn of Mars Hill and Emory Bush, Kayden Dunn and Olivia Jones of Brantley.
    The softball title gave the Florence school a sweep in Montgomery. The Mars Hill Bible baseball team also won a state championship at Riverwalk Stadium earlier in the week.

Game 14: Brantley 9, Mars Hill 8
     Brantley forced the ‘if necessary’ game by building a 9-4 lead and holding off a late Mars Hill rally. The Panthers scored four unanswered runs, including three in the sixth inning before coming up one run short. Mars Hill held an 11-5 advantage in hits but stranded eight runners. Five different Brantley players had one hit each. Kylie Thigpen was 3-for-4 to lead the Panthers.

Game 13: Brantley 12, Spring Garden 7
    Brantley (42-11) took an 11-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning before a Spring Garden rally fell short in the elimination bracket finals. Spring Garden (31-11) scored six runs in the frame, sending 11 batters to the plate to pull to within 11-7. Brantley answered with a single run in the top of the seventh to wrap the scoring.
    Olivia Jones was 3-for-4 with a trio of RBIs to lead Brantley. Emory Bush, Kayden Dunn, Ainsley Watts and Elleigh Layton added two hits each.
    The win set up a showdown in the championship finals with Mars Hill Bible, which beat the Bulldogs 5-0 in the second round of the winner’s bracket.

Game 11: Mars Hill Bible 3, Spring Garden 1 (10 innings)
Hannah Henry’s three-run home run in the bottom of the 10th inning gave Mars Hill the walk-off win to clinch a berth in the 1A championship game. After entering the frame in a 1-1 deadlock, the Panthers opened the inning with consecutive base runners on a hit and a Spring Garden error. Henry then homered to center. Riley Vaughn drove in the Panthers’ other run and also got the pitching win. She struck out 18 in 10 innings of work.

Game 9: Belgreen 8, Kinston 6
Belgreen used a five-run second inning to grab a big lead before holding off Kinston in the elimination bracket. The Bulldogs got four hits in the frame to take a 6-0 lead. Kinston trailed 8-4 heading into the last inning before playing two runs and leaving the tying run on base.
    Sydney Borden and Gracie Dempsey each went 3-for-4 at the plate while Katie Dempsey and Jaelyn Johnson added two hits each for Belgreen. Cadence Elmore led Kinston with a 3-for-3 showing.

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