Softball teams competing in region tournamentsBy Stephen Dawkins Published 8:58pm Thursday, May 9, 2013
Inexperience is considered a liability in sports.
When the pressure builds, coaches would prefer players who have been in those situations before. A large group of seniors on a varsity team has had time to build a bond and usually sets the tone for how their underclassmen teammates prepare.
Just don’t tell Chilton County’s and Billingsley’s softball teams about all that.
Those teams are competing today in their respective South Central Region tournaments in Troy for a chance to advance to the state tournament May 16-18 despite rosters that include a combined three seniors.
Chilton has two seniors, Chynna Davis and starting catcher Tiffany Crowson, so the Tigers were young even before two of their best players, Brooke Sheffield and Holly Watts, were lost to injuries several weeks ago.
Ninth grader Hannah Oaks has been a revelation as a pitcher who can spell workhorse Kristen Binion.
The Tigers’ growing maturity was on display as they held on for an 11-inning, 8-7 win over Sylacauga in the area tournament that clinched a region tournament berth.
Now, the Tigers are looking to advance even further.
“They came together and did a good job,” Watley said. “We’re looking to go down (to Troy) and play hard and see where we’re at.”
CCHS begins regional tournament play at 3:30 p.m. Friday against Briarwood. Win or lose in the first game, the Tigers would play again later in the day.
Billingsley is another young team that proved its mettle in an area tournament.
The Bears defeated tournament host Maplesville, 9-8, in a back-and-forth game that eliminated MHS and paved Billingsley’s path to an elusive area title.
“They were excited to finally get over that hump and win the area,” BHS coach J.T. Lawrence said about a group that had become used to finishing second to rival Maplesville. “I’ve seen some teams in the past that, once things didn’t go the way they wanted, they couldn’t bounce back.”
But Lawrence has stressed to the team that they advanced to the regional round last season–and that they want to accomplish more.
Whether the Bears advance to the state tournament will at least partly depend on the performance of Summer Gaither, the team’s only senior who has been its primary pitcher her entire high school career.
Billingsley (12-11) plays Loachapoka at 8 a.m. Friday and, win or lose, would play again later in the day.
“We’ve played some of our best softball early in the morning when there’s a little dew on the ground,” Lawrence said of tournaments during the regular season. “Hopefully, that will carry over into regionals.”
All South Central Region games will be played at the Troy Sports Complex.