Local softball hierarchy difficult to determine

Published 9:45 pm Saturday, March 7, 2009

The seven softball teams in The Clanton Advertiser’s coverage area represent four different classifications and five different areas.

And, really, those distinctions are what matter. The softball regular season is about as unimportant as they come, but that’s not to say the ladies don’t relish the wins and loathe the losses. The most hard fought of those supposedly meaningless regular season games are the ones against local competition. We even have a Chilton County tournament, which gives one county team bragging rights for the entire year no matter what happens the rest of the season or in the playoffs.

So, what could be more fun than to speculate about the area’s best team? Please remember that this is just speculation based on a small sampling of games, but, since the Advertiser’s sports section has featured coverage of all seven local teams in the early part of the season, maybe this opinion is somewhat qualified.

We’ll have to start with the reigning county champion, Thorsby. The Rebels rolled through all their local competition the last two years but lost to graduation several crucial components of those teams and have struggled, somewhat, so far.

Thorsby defeated Billingsley but lost to Chilton County by an 18-3 score. As county tournament runner-up last season, we could assume the Tigers are the best around, right? Not so fast. While CCHS will be difficult to beat in a tournament setting because of their trio of experienced pitchers, Maplesville found a way to top the Tigers, 4-2, on March 5 and has also defeated traditional power Jemison, who edged surprisingly improved Verbena. Playing the who-beat-whom game is usually pointless, but that is about the only way to make sense of the season so far.

The Red Devils look as strong as any other local team—they feature ample pitching, a lineup that is solid throughout and above average defense around the field. Before we can claim Maplesville the area’s best team, though, we have to consider Isabella. The Mustangs return everyone but their shortstop from last year’s team and actually picked up two starters that decided to play again after sitting out last season. And Isabella features what might be the area’s best all-around player in Raelynn Liveoak.

It’s hard to say whether Isabella or Maplesville would win a meeting between the two traditional rivals—or whether another county team will make the improvements necessary to separate itself from the others.

We’ll just have to wait until a county tournament that is becoming more unpredictable and anticipated each day.