Devils one of elite eight

Published 8:47 pm Thursday, May 14, 2009

It’s been an up-and-down season for the Maplesville softball team, but the Red Devils are as high now as they have been all year—and not far from the top.

Maplesville would have to be considered an underdog heading into the Class 1A state tournament at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park, but the Devils hope they can sustain the momentum that has gotten them somewhere they haven’t been since 2005, in coach Ashlie Harrison’s first season.

“This is all I’ve ever wanted since 8th grade,” said the team’s lone senior, Bridget Nichols, who is also one of only four current players that were a part of the program’s last trip to the state tournament. “It’s more special because it’s my senior year.

“I couldn’t ask for a better team. They’re all behind you, and I love them.”

A fifth Devil, pitcher Courtney Killingsworth, also has state tournament experience, but hers came with Bibb County before transferring.

Killingsworth sustained an injury to her non-throwing elbow during the season that coincided with the team reaching its lowest point.

“That kind of put a damper on things,” coach Ashlie Harrison said. “I’m not sure our girls completely believed in themselves until [advancing past the region tournament] last week.”

The more confident squad still faces a challenge. Maplesville is the only team in the tournament that was unranked in the final Alabama Sports Writers Association poll, and its 20-18 record isn’t as impressive as the competition’s.

But all that matters is what happens from this point forward.

“We’ve improved a lot this week,” Nichols said. “Everybody is more focused.”