UPDATED: Maplesville earns state tournament berth

Published 11:32 pm Saturday, May 12, 2012

Maplesville is headed to the state Class 1A softball tournament for the fourth consecutive season.

The Red Devils won the South Central Regional Tournament on Saturday at the Troy Sportsplex by defeating Fayetteville, 17-7, in the championship game.

Morgan Little was named tournament Most Valuable Player as MHS dominated each of its four games: 5-0 over Fayetteville to begin its run, then 14-2 over Holy Spirit and 10-0 over Jefferson Christian to set up the title game rematch with Fayetteville.

The Devils (24-15) will play Tharptown (21-15), runner-up in the North Regional, at 9 a.m. Thursday in the state tournament at Lagoon Park in Montgomery.

Maplesville coach Chad Harrison told his team before the regional tournament how important it was to win the first game.

“I felt that Fayetteville was one of the better teams there,” Harrison said. “I also explained to them that if we dropped the first, we would then have to win six straight games to claim the title.”

Little, Natalie Arnold, Autumn Smith, Kiana Andrews, Alexus Nix, Jordyn Graf and Sarina Gutierrrez all batted at least .500 for the tournament. Little batted .692 with a .714 on-base percentage, earned a win on the pitching rubber and played solid defense at shortstop.

“Take away that first inning in the championship game (when the Devils made five errors, resulting in six runs), and our defense played well the whole tournament,” Harrison said. “Our outfielders (Gutierrez, Arnold and Kelsie Barrett) were flawless defensively for the entire tournament.”

Five other local softball teams competed over the weekend in Troy.

Thorsby was closest to joining Maplesville as state tournament qualifiers. The Rebels finished third in the Class 2A South Central Regional; the top two teams in each regional advance to state.

“The team exceeded my expectations, and I am so proud of them,” coach Rachel Argent said. “They are a great group of girls, and I enjoyed being around them every day and I appreciate how hard they play for me.”

Both of Thorsby’s losses came to Goshen. The Rebels fell 8-1 in their first game before battling through the losers’ bracket, earning a 22-12 win over Millry, a 3-1 win over Central-Hayneville and an 8-2 win over Horseshoe Bend before being eliminated by Goshen, 11-3.

Billingsley also competed in the 2A South Central Regional.

The Bears lost to Central-Hayneville, 11-1, defeated Reeltown, 10-9, and were eliminated by Horseshoe Bend, 20-0.

Class 5A Chilton County opened its regional appearance with an 11-1 loss to Hueytown.

The Tigers staved off elimination with an 11-0 win over Greenville but then fell to Pleasant Grove, 2-1.

Jemison lost a 5-4 decision to Oak Grove before winning a couple of one-run games, 5-4 over West Blocton and 6-5 over Calera.

JHS was eliminated with a 6-3 loss to Bibb County.

Verbena lost its first game, 19-14 against Wadley, but won against Holy Spirit, 24-13, in a game that started at midnight.

Schedules were changed because of the threat of severe weather on Saturday, with some teams playing late Friday and then playing again early on Saturday.

“The girls lost to Fayetteville, 9-7 on Saturday, but in that game we faced rain delays and exhaustion,” VHS coach Nicole Ivey said. “We came back from behind twice in the game and had the opportunity two innings to score, and a few great hit balls went directly to their players.

“The girls played with more heart this weekend then they ever had.”