Red Devils look to take next step at state softball tournament

Published 10:52 pm Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Maplesville’s softball team has taken a small step each of the past three seasons.

The next step–which the Red Devils could take Thursday–would be winning a game in the Class 1A state tournament at Lagoon Park in Montgomery.

“We’re just hoping to keep progressing as we’re building the program,” coach Chad Harrison said.

Three years ago, the Red Devils made the state tournament as a runner-up at the regional tournament. Two years ago, they won the region. Last year, they went unbeaten through the regional.

Harrison was an assistant coach on those three teams, and he took over as head coach for this season.

MHS has gone 0-6 at the past three state tournaments. Harrison and his players know well what the next logical step would be.

The coach said he thinks the team’s biggest hurdle is that it faces better pitching at the state tournament than the players are accustomed to.

Harrison said he hopes a different approach to preparation for the tournament will produce a different result. Instead of focusing on improving and the tournament as a whole, Harrison said the team this week worked only on its first opponent, Tharptown.

“All of our practices have been focused on winning that first game,” Harrison said. “We’re going to treat it like a championship game.”

MHS has practiced fielding bunts extensively, Harrison said, because Tharptown is a fast team that often attempts to bunt for hits.

Maplesville’s primary pitcher, Autumn Smith, also pitches to contact, making defense even more of a priority, Harrison said.

“Autumn is going to throw strikes, and the other team is going to put the ball in play,” he said. “We’ve just got to catch it.”

Win or lose against Tharptown at 9 a.m., the Devils will play again at 1:30 p.m. If they win one of their first two games, they would play again at 5:30 p.m.

So, two wins Thursday will be required to survive to the second day of the double-elimination event.