G.W. Long 13, Mars Hill Bible 7
MONTGOMERY – G.W. Long battled from a 7-1 deficit in the championship game to beat Mars Hill Bible 13-7 as the Rebels claimed the 2018 AHSAA Class 2A State Softball championship. The state title also gave the school a sweep in Montgomery since the G.W. Long boys won the Class 2A state baseball crown, ironically, over Mars Hill Bible, earlier in the week.
Junior pitcher Libby Baker, the Class 2A state tourney MVP, supplied the power with two home runs and three RBIs for Long. Her two-run blast highlighted a seven-run fourth inning that gave the Lady Rebels (35-14) the lead for good 8-7.
Coach Nikki Long’s team rolled through the 2A state tourney undefeated with wins over Leroy 4-1, Lamar County 15-8 and Mars Hill Bible 5-2 in the winner’s bracket finals. Coach Matt Burgess’ Mars Hill girls downed Thorsby 11-0 and Reeltown 4-0 before falling to the loser’s bracket. The Panthers (45-16) beat Reeltown 9-3 to advance to the championship game.
G.W. Long had 10 hits in the finals with Kenzi Payne, Savanna Wood and Dallas Potter collecting two hits each. Potter also had a homer, had two RBIs and scored three times. Payne, Wood and Emmaline Hughes each added two RBIs.
Mars Hill scored all its runs in the first three innings off Baker, who allowed 10 hits, walked eight and struck out eight. Faith Stanford got the loss for the Panthers. Annah Steadhman collected a double and single to drive in three runs for Mars Hill. Riley Vaughn also had a double and two RBIs, and Kayla Thigpen had two hits and scored twice.
The state title was the first in school history for G.W. Long.
CLASS 2A ALL-STATE TOURNEY TEAM
Libby Baker, G.W. Long (MVP); Kenzi Payne, G.W. Long; Savanna Wood, G.W. Long; Emmaline Hughes, G.W. Long; Erika Mitchell, Mars Hill Bible; Riley Vaughn, Mars Hill Bible; Annah Steadman, Mars Hill Bible; Allie Mitchell, Mars Hill Bible.
Hartselle 6, Saraland 5 (8 innings)
GAME 2: Auburn 1, Hewitt-Trussville 0 (Auburn wins championship)
MONTGOMERY – Senior Drew Jennings turned in a stellar pitching performance Saturday in game two of the Class 7A State Baseball Championship Series art Riverwalk Stadium and shut out Hewitt-Trussville 1-0 to seal the Tigers’ fourth state championship and first since 2010.
Jennings (10-2) allowed just three hits, had two walks and struck out six – but more importantly, pitched out of jams in the sixth and seventh innings to notch the final game victory. His superb effort came just 18 hours just 16 hours after teammate Brooks Fuller hurled four-hitter in game one to beat the Huskies 4-1.
Coach Matt Cimo’s Tigers (34-8) limited Hewitt-Trussville (32-11) to just one run and seven hits in the series. Coach Jeff Mauldin’s staff also pitched well, blanking Auburn in 13 of the 15 innings played, held the Tigers to nine total hits and five total runs.
Michael Fowler started Saturday for the Huskies pitched the first inning allowing one hit and no runs before leaving the game with soreness in his arm. Davis Burgin hurled the final six innings, allowing only three hits, one run and striking out three.
That one run turned out to be the big one. Auburn lead-off hitter Garrett Morris drew a walk to open the top of the third inning, stole second and went to third on Griffin Speaks’ bunt single. Jackson Arnold followed with a sacrifice fly to right field and Morris scored. It would be the only run the Tigers could muster all day but it was enough.
Jennings, who earned Class 7A series MVP honors, ran into trouble in the bottom of the sixth when Tyler Mauldin, who had two hits, singled with two outs. Creed Parker was inserted as a pinch runner and moved to second when Caden Kirk drew a walk. Parker and Kirk double steals to move to second and third, but Jennings struck the next batter out to snuff the rally.
In the seventh inning, Jacob Bishop singled to opening the inning, advanced to second on a throwing error and moved to third on Zach Defnall’s sacrifice bunt. Jennings then got the next two batters to ground out to end the game.
Mauldin finished two singles an Bishop had the hit for Hewitt. Speaks had two hits for the Tigers, Ryan Lambert and Tanner Jones had the other hits.
Hewitt-Trussville beat Auburn in 2016 to win the school’s only 7A state title. Auburn returned in 2017 falling to Hoover in the finals. The Tigers won championships previously in 1986, 2009 and 2010.
The 7A series ended the 63rd AHSAA State Baseball Championships, which were held annually from 1948 to 1961 for large schools, discontinued from 1962-69 and reinstated in 1970 completing its 49th season in the current format of separate classification championships.
It has been played annually in Montgomery since 2001.
Hale County 13, Wilson 2
MONTGOMERY – Hale County downed Wilson 13-2 in the 2018 AHSAA Class 4A State Softball Tournament at Lagoon Park Friday night to win its fourth state championship since 2014.
Coach Lori Wyatt’s team scored five runs in the second inning and four each in the third aknd fourth innings to beat the Warriors (49-5) of Coach Laura Jo McFall. Wilson forced the final game after emerging from the loser’s bracket to beat Hale County 10-7 to force the second game of the finals.
Freshman pitcher Emily LaFoy allowed five hits, walked one and struck out two in the final game to get the win for Hale County (37-18). She was named MVP of the Class 4A state tourney. Senior teammate Olivia McCray had a triple and double and drove in four runs for the Wildcats. Kayla Wyatt had a triple and single and scored twice, Savanna Holmes had one hit and three RBIs, LaFoy had one hit and three runs scored for the winners.
Johnna Staggs started and got the loss for Wilson. McKenzie Walker had a double and Staggs had an RBI to pace the Warriors.
Hale County, which won three state titles in a row from 2014-16, also downed Alabama Christian 1-0, Wilson 18-11 and North Jackson 15-9 in the winner’s bracket.
The Warriors opened with a 5-2 victory over Cherokee County, then moved to the loser’s bracket after the second-round loss to Hale County. Wilson then beat Cordova 10-2, Alabama Christian 7-3 and North Jackson 11-5 before beating the Wildcats 10-7 to force the final game.
The AHSAA 24th annual fast-pitch state tourney will conclude Saturday with Classes 2A and 6A finals set for 2 p.m. The NFHS Network will be live-streaming both over the NFHS Network. Go to www.nfhsnetwork.com to access or subscribe.
CLASS 4A ALL-TOURNEY TEAM
Emily LaFoy, Hale County (MVP); Savanna Holmes, Hale County; Madalynn Langham, Hale County; Olivia McCray, Hale County; Johnna Staggs, Wilson; Taylor Brown, Wilson; Karlee Liverett, Wilson; Sidney Bevis, Wilson; Josie Thompson, North Jackson.
GAME 1: Auburn 4, Hewitt-Trussville 1
MONTGOMERY – Senior Brooks Fuller pitched a four-hitter and struck out eight in the AHSAA Class 7A State Baseball Championship Series opener at Paterson Field Friday night as Auburn posted a 4-1 victory over Hewitt-Trussville to take a 1-0 edge into the best 2-of-3 series Saturday.
Prattville Christian 7, Geneva 1
GAME 3: Hazel Green 1, Helena 0 (Hazel Green is state champ)
MONTGOMERY – Hazel Green High School Coach Frankie Perez said he learned early on in his first season as the Trojans’ head baseball coach that in a clutch situation, he and the team wanted to ball in the hand of senior left-handed pitcher Tyler Duskin.
Friday night, Perez did just that and Duskin did not disappoint the Hazel Green faithful. Duskin hurled a five-hit shutout in game three of the AHSAA’s Class 6A State Baseball Championship Series as the Trojans nipped Helena 1-0, and Hazel Green (32-13) captured the school’s first-ever state baseball title.
GAME 2: Faith Academy 7, Russellville 3 (Faith is state champion)
MONTGOMERY – The third time was the charm for Faith Academy’s baseball team Friday morning as the Rams beat Russellville 7-3 to complete the sweep of the AHSA Class 5A State 5A State Baseball Championship Series at Riverwalk Stadium.
Russellville (30-16) won the 5A title in 2015, 2016 and 2017 – beating Faith Academy in the finals the last two seasons. This year’s finals belonged to Coach Matt Seymour’s Rams (36-3).
Sophomore pitcher Eli Giles (8-1), who pitched the final two outs of Thursday night’s 5-3 win in game one to notch a save, hurled six strong innings Friday allowing only four hits, one earned run and striking out eight to get the win. He was also named the Class 5A series MVP.
Faith Academy pecked away at Russellville from the get-go scoring a single run in the first, third and fifth innings to take a 3-1 lead into the top of the sixth. Senior catcher Chris Sargent delivered a bases-loaded double to clear the bases and then pinch runner Brandon White added the fourth run of the inning scoring on John Griffin Bell’s suicide squeeze bunt.
Coach Chris Heaps’ Golden Tigers scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, and relief pitcher James Flynn shut done Russellville in the seventh inning to seal the win.
Faith Academy got eight total hits with Braxton Bell had a double and two singles, John Griffin Bell had one hit and two RBIs, Jackson Bell had the double and three RBIs, and Reece Ewing had two hits.
Starting pitcher Rudy Fernandez (6-4) pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowed five hits, two earned runs and struck out two for Russellville. Houston Kitterman had a single and RBI while Brock Malone, Devin Buckhalter and Fernandez each had one hit for the Tigers.
The Class 6A series between Helena (26-15) and Hazel Green (31-12) gets underway at 4 p.m., today at Riverwalk. The Trojans won Thursday’s game 4-3 and holds a 1-0 edge in the best 2-of-3 series.
The Class 7A championship series opens Friday at 6 p.m. at Paterson Field with Hewitt-Trussville (32-9) facing Auburn (35-7). The 7A series close the AHSAA Championships Saturday at Riverwalk Stadium with game two at 10 a.m.
All championship series games are being live-streamed over the NFHS Network.
The AHSAA Softball Championships is underway at Lagoon Park today through Saturday.
GAME 1: Hazel Green 4, Helena 3