MONTGOMERY – Senior Ariyon Hightower slugged a triple, single and grand-slam home run to lead Opp to a 15-0 win over Straughn in a Wiregrass softball game last week to finish with eight RBIs and landed in the AHSAA Softball Spotlight with the record-book performance.
The talented infielder drove in two runs with s triple in the first inning, two more runs with a single in the fourth inning and four RBIs on a grand-slam in the top of the fifth – the most RBIs in a single game since Good Hope’s Josie McDonald had nine in a 16-0 win over Vinemont in 2015. The AHSAA single-game record (11) was set by Candace Arreola of Central-Florence in a 16-1 win over Ardmore in the 2011 North Regional tournament at Huntsville. Enterprise slugger Sara Hilton had 10 in a 13-0 win over Charles Henderson in 2008, and Danyelle Martin of Springville drove in nine victory over St. Clair County in 2011.
Hightower is now tied with nine others for fourth best all-time in the AHSAA. Her dad Aaron Hightower, the current principal at Opp High School, was a standout athlete in high school who signed a football scholarship at Southern Miss and was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1992 Major League Draft. He spent two years in the Blue Jays minor-league organization.
Ariyon’s RBI assault edged out a home-run hitting barrage by Tuscaloosa County in a 17-10 win over Northside.
The Wildcats tied the AHSAA record for consecutive home runs (3) when Maddie Parks, Katie Atkins and Halie Jones hit back-to-back-to-back homers in the fifth inning of their 17-10 win over Northside. Guntersville also accomplished the rare feat earlier this season when Lauren Quigley, Kaylyn Dunn and Katie Wood boomed consecutive homers in the first inning of a 12-1 win over Brewer.
In other highlights reported:
IN THE CLUTCH
MIA KILLEN, FLORENCE: Slammed a two-run homer and drove in three runs in the Falcons’ 8-7 win over defending Class 7A state champion Buckhorn.
MADDISON WATKINS, EAST LIMESTONE: Had a triple, double and single and two stolen bases to score three runs as the Indians beat West Morgan 6-3.
BAILEY MURPHY, BAKER: Had a triple in the second inning, homer in the third, double in the fourth and a single in the fifth to hit for the cycle in the Honey Bees’ 16-0 win over Alma Bryant.
BRIANNA POSEY, CENTRAL-FLORENCE: Posey hit a grand slam home run and finished with six RBIs as the Wildcats beat Rogers 12-5.
MAGGIE WILLIAMS, DESHLER: Hit a grand slam and finished with five RBIs in a win over Colbert Heights.
BAILIE HALL, OAK GROVE: Batted .833 for the week with two homers and two doubles for the Tigers.
MAGGIE WILLIAMS, DESHLER: Had a grand-slam homer and five RBIs total as Deshler downed Colbert Heights 15-7. Teammate Kelsie Myrick also had three hits and drove in five runs as well for the Tigers, who scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to send the game into extra innings tied at 7-7. Deshler then scored eight runs in the top of the eighth to seal the win.
BAILEE COCHRAN, ASHFORD: Had a single, double and home run to plate five runs as Ashford beat Dale County 14-4.
ALIVIA CLEMMONS, RUSSELLVILLE: Had four hits and two RBIs and Krista Sikes had two hits and five RBIs in the Tigers’ 11-6 win over Haleyville.
LEANNA JOHNSON, BRANTLEY: Hurled a no-hitter and struck out 18 as the Bulldogs (31-4) blanked Pleasant Home 4-0. She also had 15 strikeouts in a 2-1 win over Class 7A Prattville.
HALEY HORTON, GARDENDALE: Hurled 11 shutout innings to get wins over Tuscaloosa County and Cordova as the Rockets won the Sumiton Christian tourney. She had eight strikeouts.
LIBBY BAKER & MORGAN FERGUSON, G.W. LONG: Hurled back-to-back three-inning no-hitters over Abbeville – winning 18-0 and 15-0. Baker struck out eight of nine batters faced and Ferguson whiffed seven of nine – for a combined 15 strikeouts over six innings.
MAKENNA PIERCE, DAPHNE: Was 4-0 with 37 strikeouts in 22 innings pitched for the week. Among the victories was a no-hitter in a win over Kinston.
BAILEY BROWNING, WEST LIMESTONE: Hurled a one-hitter and struck out nine as the Wildcats beat West Morgan 5-0. She also had two hits and three RBIs.
RILEY VAUGHN, MARS HILL BIBLE: Pitched a two-hitter and struck out 11 in a 2-0 shutout over Lauderdale County. Makayla Miller also pitched a two-hitter in the loss for the Tigers.
MONTGOMERY – Guntersville High School’s softball team slugged six home runs in the first inning and finished with an AHSAA state-record tying eight for the game to beat Brewer 12-1 last week to move into this week’s AHSAA Softball Spotlight.
The six home runs also set an AHSAA record and quite possibly a national record. However, the NFHS Record Book only lists team home run records for a season. Coach Capper Reed’s Wildcats opened the game with sophomore Candice Daniel hitting a home run. Lauren Quigley, Kaylyn Dunn and Katie Wood followed with back-to-back-to-back home runs. The inning concluded with Maggie Skaziak and Daniel hitting back-to-back homers.
Daniel, who had two in the first inning, and Skaziak, who had five RBIs, finished with two home runs each in the game to give the Wildcats eight in the five-inning game to tie the state record set by Ider in the 2000 season. Quigley pitched the win striking out 10.
Daniel now shares the AHSAA record for homers in an inning with 12 others, including
Demopolis’ Alex Abrams and Fairhope’s Sam Yarbrough, who accomplished the feat in 2017. Tiffany Burks of Gardendale and Delaina Franklin of Pleasant Grove set the record originally on consecutive days in 2005. According to the NFHS Record Book, the national record (3) was set by Sherri Wright of Nashville (TN) Overton in 1989 and tied by Stefanie Berecz of Chicago St. Benedict in 2002.
Quigley pitched five innings with 10 strikeouts. With the win, the Lady Wildcats improve to 10-7 on the season. They played Boaz last Thursday.
Goodman Logs Milestone Coaching Win
Guntersville’s home run barrage shared the spotlight with Alabama Christian Coach Chris Goodman, who registered the 1,300th career coaching victory when the Lady Eagles beat Montgomery rival LAMP 15-0 earlier this week. His overall coaching record after the LAMP win is now 1,300 wins, 618 losses and eight ties including tenures in baseball, boys’ and girls’ basketball, according to records compiled by ACA historian Paul Payne.
ACA (21-4) went 3-2 last weekend at the Sparkman Round-Robin Invitational tourney, then beat Montgomery rivals Saint James on Monday and LAMP on Tuesday. Goodman has served as head softball coach at ACA since 2007 compiling a 470-165-8 fast-pitch record overall with Class 4A state championships in 2007 and 2009 and runner-up finishes in 2010, 2013 and 2014. His 2017 team finished with a school-record 58 wins en route to a third-place finish at the AHSAA State Tourney. The Eagles won six other fast-pitch titles (1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006) and one slow-pitch championship (1995) for nine softball state crowns overall.
“It is all about the kids,” said Goodman, who compiled a 389-192 record as Alabama Christian’s baseball coach from 1986-2006. His baseball program produced state titles in 1995 and 2000 and finished second in 1994 and 2004. He was first coach in AHSAA history to win state titles in softball and baseball. Buckhorn’s Alvin Rauls accomplished that feat last season winning the 2017 Class 7A softball crown. Rauls, who was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame last month, won a baseball title at New Hope in 1992.
Goodman also compiled a 216-168 boys’ basketball record at ACA from 1986-2001 and was 225-93 coaching girls’ basketball from 2002-2012.
He said he has enjoyed coaching all sports, but will treasure coaching his daughters in softball. “I left baseball for softball just so I could coach them, and it has been an incredible experience,” he said. “I have been blessed to have the chance to coach so many outstanding kids. The wins are about them. I never counted them.”
In other reported performances:
IN THE CLUTCH
TAYLOR ROSS, NORTHVIEW: Slugged a grand slam home run igniting a seven-run third inning as the Cougars beat Northside 13-0 in four innings in their first game of the Northside Invitational Tourney as Northview opened with three wins. Ross also drove in the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning with a fielder’s choice as the Cougars beat Brookwood 5-4 to win the championship. She also took a0 throw from teammate Collier Peaden to tag out the potential go-ahead run in the top of the inning to snuff out a Brookwood rally. Peaden also had four hits in the final game. Jaala Torrence pitched all eight innings allowing five hits and striking out 14 to get the win.
MADISON PLUNKETT, THOMPSON: Singled in two runs to give the Warriors the lead for good 3-2 in the bottom of the final inning as the Warriors (30-5) capped a 10-win run in the Gulf Coast Classic tourney finals to beat Hewitt-Trussville 4-3.
DEVAN FULMER, FAIRVIEW: Clubbed a two-run homer in the fifth inning to put the Aggies ahead for good in a 4-3 win over Good Hope.
MACEY OGLE, JOHN CARROLL CATHOLIC: Compiled a 4-1 record and struck out 30 for the week and also had 10 hits, including four doubles, and drove in five runs while hitting .625 over seven games last week.
LAURA HUDSON, BRANTLEY: Tossed a no-hitter and struck out six to beat Highland Home 6-0 to complete a doubleheader sweep. Leanna Johnson struck out 12 in a 17-0 win in the first game with Hannah Sims clubbing s two-run homer, two doubles and a single to plate five runs.
RILEY VAUGHN, MARS HILL BIBLE: Hurled all 10 innings in the Panthers’ 10-9 win over Washington (IL) and drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the final to bring in the winning run. She also threw a 5-inning shutout with 12 Ks against Central Magnet and struck out 7 batters in a 4-inning win over East Limestone.
HOOVER – Decatur’s Tanner Burns and Westminster Christian’s Annie Willis were named Mr. Baseball and Miss Softball, respectively, by the Alabama Sports Writers Association on Sunday night at the group’s 46th annual convention at the Hyatt-Wynfrey in Hoover.
In addition, Mobile Christian’s Ethan Hearn was named the recipient of the ASWA’s Jimmy Smothers Courage Award. Named after the long-time sports editor of the Gadsden Times and guiding force in the ASWA, it recognizes his commitment to local and high school sports coverage, and honors a high school athlete who has overcome adversity and shown immense courage.
Burns, expected to be a high choice in the Major League Baseball player draft this week, was selected the ASWA’s Class 6A first-team shortstop and the 6A Player of the Year when the group’s prep committee met last week to select its all-state team. Burns was also the 6A hitter of the year in 2016 as a utility player, a first-team pitcher in 2015 and first-team designated hitter as a freshman.
In 37 games for the 32-5 Red Raiders, the senior hit .467 with 18 homers, 46 RBI, 49 hits and 56 runs. He walked 29 times and struck out just six times. As a right-handed pitcher, Burns went 10-1 with a 0.88 ERA and 116 strikeouts against 22 walks, while allowing eight earned runs in 64 innings. The Auburn signee helped Decatur to the quarterfinals – where the team was ranked 32nd in the nation before its loss to Cullman.
Willis was the Pitcher and Player of the Year in Class 4A in helping her team to a runner-up finish and a 51-4-1 record. With 543 strikeouts this year, she finished her pitching career with 1,975. This year, she went 43-3-1 and had an ERA of 0.40. She pitched five no-hitters, three perfect games and 21 shutouts. Willis allowed 44 walks, 90 hits and 15 earned runs in 259 2/3 innings.
The senior hit .464 this year with 12 homers, 64 RBI, 70 hits, scored 40 runs, walked 23 times and struck out just nine times. She was a first-team all-state pitcher as a junior and sophomore and was honorable mention as a freshman. The Troy signee helped the Wildcats to a high-water mark of 14th in the country.
Hearn was honored for his courage in the face of tremendous adversity. The sophomore returned from football practice on a Thursday night last November to find his mother dead of an apparent suicide. Though his teammates and coaches rushed to his house to comfort him that night, few expected him to make the trip to Oakman early the next morning for the team’s Class 3A quarterfinal playoff game. Not only did Hearn make the trip, he made 8.5 tackles in a Mobile Christian victory and eventually helped power the Leopards to the title game.
ASWA SUPER 10 VOTING
(First place votes in parentheses)
Tanner Burns, Decatur (9) 117
Bubba Thompson, McGill-Toolen (2) 87
Jacob Heatherly, Cullman 80
Cody Greenhill, Russellville 66
Sam Praytor, Helena 57
Connor Jednat, UMS-Wright 39
Taylor Hayes, Piedmont 37
Jonah Smith, Sweet Water 17
Brock Guffey, Hoover 13
Drew Williamson, T.R. Miller 11
MR. BASEBALL WINNERS
2017: Tanner Burns, Decatur
2016: Owen Lovell, Cullman
2015: Brax Garrett, Florence
2014: Cody Reed, Ardmore
2013: Keegan Thompson, Cullman
2012: Mikey White, Spain Park
2011: Daniel Koger, Huntsville
2010: Daryl Norris, Fairhope
2009: Luke Bole, Hartselle
2008: Tyler Stovall, Hokes Bluff
2007: John David Smelser, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa
2006: Del Howell, American Chr.
2005: Colby Rasmus, Russell Co.
2004: Patrick White, Daphne
2003: Joey Doan, Baker
2002: Allen Ponder, Lee-Scott Acad.
2001: Eric West, Southside-Gadsden
2000: Wade Miller, G.W. Long
1999: Matthew Maniscalco, Oxford
Annie Willis, Westminster Chr. (8) 115
Jenna Ergle, Sumiton Chr. (3) 105
Kendall Beth Sides, Sumiton Chr. 73
Mary Katherine Tedder, Spain Park 70
Abbey Latham, Demopolis 56
Josie Page, Washington Co. 49
Lacey Fincher, Faith Acad. 39
Zoie Emrick, Buckhorn 24
Alex Wilcox, Brantley 23
Amy Woodham, Slocomb 17
MISS SOFTBALL WINNERS
2017: Annie Willis, Westminster Chr.
2016: Ashlee Swindle, Curry
2015: Lacey Sumerlin, Baker
2014: Madi Moore, Winfield
2013: Kasey Cooper, Dothan
2012: Haylie McCleney, Mortimer Jordan
2011: Shelby Holley, Pisgah
2010: Leigh Streetman, Hueytown
2009: Hilary Phillips, Ider
2008: Lindsey Dunlap, Hueytown
2007: Whitney Larsen, Vestavia Hills
2006: Anna Thompson, Grissom
2005: Tara Donaldson, Baker
2004: Anna Thompson, Grissom
2003: Holly Currie, Pisgah
OXFORD – Springville High School captured the AHSAA Class 5A state softball championship Monday with a 2-0 win over Scottsboro in a game played at Oxford’s Choccolocco Park. The game was resume at Oxford after inclement weather forced suspension of the contest on Saturday night at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park.
The Tigers (45-11-1) of Coach Brandon Easterwood battled out of the consolation bracket Saturday to beat Scottsboro (44-17), which emerged undefeated in the winner’s bracket to reach the championship game. Springville won 11-1 in the first game, which forced the “if” game Saturday night. Rain interrupted the “if” game in the third inning with Springville leading 1-0.
The contest resumed Monday morning at Choccolocco Park. Springville won its third straight Class 5A softball championship behind a strong pitching performance from MVP Abby Swaney and stellar defense in the 2-0 victory.
Swaney, who was selected the Class 5A state tourney Most Outstanding Player, struck out eight and scattered five hits in the shutout. The defense was superb, including a game-ending double-play when second baseman Courtney Long grabbed a fly ball in shallow left field, and then threw to first base to nab the Scottsboro runner who had strayed too far.
Piper Long drove in the only run during Monday’s play with an infield single while Kaylee Chapman supplied the first RBI in Saturday’s action.
Piper Long and Ashlyn Perrin each had two hits for the Tigers. Lexie Bennett led the Scottsboro offense with three hits.
Swaney also hurled a four-hitter in the five-inning 11-1 Saturday win that forced the final game. Kaley Chapman had a home run and triple and four RBIs, including a home run, and Anderson Nolan had a homer, single and three RBIs to lead the Tigers in that win. Macy Kate Petriske had a single and RBI for Coach Robyn Johnson’ Wildcats.
Springville finished 5-1 in the tournament with win over Marbury (3-0) and Rehobeth (15-7) before falling to Scottsboro 2-1 in the winner’s bracket finals. The Tigers then beat Moody (6-4) to set up the two final contests. Scottsboro posted wins over Faith Academy (3-0), Hayden (10-2) and Springville to reach the championship contests.
All state-tournament boxscores are available on line at www.ahsaa.com. The final was live-streamed and is now archived at www.NFHSnetwork.com.
Class 5A All-State Tournament Team
Abby Swaney, Springville (MOP); McKenzie Brown, Springville; Kaylee Chapman, Springville; Anderson Nolan, Springville; Loren Grider, Scottsboro; Macy Kate Petriske, Scottsboro; Kylie Thackerson, Scottsboro; Shelby Waldrop, Scottsboro.
MONTGOMERY – Buckhorn High School (43-11) rolled to four straight wins at Lagoon Park to capture the 2017 Class 7A state softball championship Friday. Coach Alvin Rauls’ Lady Bucks beat their Madison County arch-rivals and defending state champion Sparkman 5-0 in the championship game.
Zoie Emrick pitched 4 1/3 innings in relief to get the win. She allowed no hits or runs and struck out two. Starter Lauren Harbin started and allowed two hits over 2 2/3 innings.
Emrick, was named the Most Outstanding Player in the Class 7A state tourney.
Buckhorn took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning and then scored four in the fifth frame with Jordan Evans’ three-run double the big hit. Courtney Marlow also had two hits and one RBI and scored twice. The Bucks also beat Fairhope 12-1, Tuscaloosa County 10-2 and Spain Park 7-1 to outscore all four opponents 34-4 in the state tourney.
Cassidy Duskin got the loss for Sparkman (54-11). Taylor Davis and Amanda Shikoh each had a hit for the Senators, who lost in the first round to Baker 7-5 and then won four straight games in the loser’s bracket to reach the finals.
The state tourney continues Friday and Saturday at Lagoon Park with all championship games set to be live-streamed over the NFHS Network.
Class 7A All-State Tournament Team
Zoie Emrick, Buckhorn (MOP); Sidney Edwards, Buckhorn; Kaylee Combs, Buckhorn; Laura Harbin, Buckhorn; Taylor Davis, Sparkman; Cassidy Duskin, Sparkman; Lily Calvert, Sparkman; MacKenzie Nutt, Buckhorn.