All together now

Published 9:20 pm Thursday, May 7, 2009

Montgomery will feel a little bit like Chilton County on Friday, with six teams worth of local softball players, coaches and fans making the trip to the state’s capital for the South-central region tournament.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association this season adopted a regional format for the second round of the state playoffs. The new format, the postponement of the previous playoff round because of the swine flu scare, this week’s weather and one school’s prom will make this year’s softball season a memorable one.

Five of Chilton County’s six seniors—Bevin Hawkins, Natalie Littleton, Kristin Nelson, Samantha Ray and Macee Thomas—Friday night will attend the school’s prom, leaving the softball team with a makeshift lineup.

Lindsey Parrish will man second base, seventh grader Brooke Lewis (sister of third baseman April Lewis) will play left field, and Kadie Coker will take over in center field—all playing positions they don’t have much experience at.

To compound the problem, Wednesday’s inclement weather resulted in schools closing early, which means teams aren’t allowed to practice, and Thursday saw enough rain to keep teams off the field.

“So, we’re going in there with a few of them not having practiced at their positions,” coach Krisi Parrish said.

Parrish said she understood the seniors’ decisions were based on more than simple preference—parents often foot the bill for expensive prom dresses, for example.

“I tried to be as supportive of them as possible,” Parrish said.

First baseman Bridget Robinson is the only senior that chose to stay with the team in its first trip this far into the playoffs in Parrish’s tenure.

CCHS plays Shelby County at 2:30 p.m. at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park, the site of every regional game.

The weather has affected other teams’ preparation, also.

“It’s been a nuisance, there’s no doubt,” Thorsby coach Nicole Hilyer said. “But you just kind of do the best you can.

“We still need to work on the basics. We do our fundamental work all the time, but we’re still not where we need to be.

Thorsby plays Class 2A No. 2 American Christian at 11:30 a.m.

Isabella coach Mike Ratliff said, at this point of the season, practice only amounts to “brushing the dust off.” Despite all the distractions, Ratliff said his team today is in better shape mentally than it was earlier in the season.

If so, one or more local teams might have a good showing at the regional. With so many teams having the opportunity to shine, the odds are in their favor.

“I hope that represents the quality of softball we have in this county,” Ratliff said.

Jemison plays Class 4A No. 2 Alabama Christian at 1 p.m. Maplesville plays Wadley at 10 a.m., the same time Billingsley plays Faith Christian.

“It’s a good plan. It reduces travel,” AHSAA Communications Director Ron Ingram said. “It puts softball more in line with basketball and other sports.”

Ingram said the softball committee, which is composed of coaches, recommended the change.