Tigers take county softball tournament

Published 12:24 pm Saturday, March 21, 2015

Kricket Caton celebrates after Chilton County High School captured the 2015 Chilton County Softball Tournament Champion.

Kricket Caton celebrates after Chilton County High School captured the 2015 Chilton County Softball Tournament Championship.

By Brandon Sumrall/Special to the Advertiser

Suspense, drama, heroics and excitement are all words that could be used to describe the single-elimination round of the 2015 Chilton County Softball Tournament held March 20.

The crowd that filed into Sam Bentley Field in Thorsby saw one great ball game after another, all the way down to the nightcap.

In the finals, Chilton County Tigers successfully defended their title as county tournament champions in a hard fought 5-4 win over the Thorsby Rebels.

It was no easy task for either the Tigers or the Rebels, as both were forced to play all day after going 1-1 during pool play March 19.

The Tigers’ day started with a matchup against the Maplesville Red Devils in a game that looked to be in favor of the Red Devils until the top of the sixth inning.

With the Tigers down 3-1 and the bases loaded with no outs, consecutive doubles by Morgan Dennis and “Kricket” Caton gave the Tigers four runs in the inning to propel them to a 5-3 win—and a date with the No. 1 seed Jemison Panthers.

After the two teams exchanged runs in the first inning, the Tigers took a three-run lead in the top of the third inning thanks to an RBI single by Gabriel Kelley and a two-run home run by Taylor Smitherman.

The Panthers answered in the bottom of the fourth inning with five runs of their own thanks to a couple of Tiger errors and an RBI double by Laura Vinzant along with an RBI single by Kelson Cole.

The Panthers held that 6-4 lead until the top of the seventh inning, as the Tigers reeled off six runs thanks in no small part to a base-clearing double by Kelley as Chilton County went on to knock off the Panthers, 10-4, and punch their ticket to the championship match.

The Rebels were also forced to fight their way to the championship game but started the day with a convincing 22-2 win over the Verbena Red Devils.

Things got much tougher for the Rebels in their next matchup for the day as they had to get past the other No. 1 seed in the tournament, the Isabella Mustangs.

The Mustangs got on the board first with one run in the bottom of the first inning, as Victoria Fletcher scored the game’s first run to give Isabella an early 1-0 lead.

The Rebels got on the board in the top of the fourth inning when a Lilly Barnett double set up a run-scoring single by Rachel Curry.

The Mustangs however, answered right back in the bottom half of the inning when Chandler Kirkland scored on a Jayda Jones double to put the game back in favor of the Mustangs.

Lauren Reeser set up an RBI double by Addison Niamon with a double of her own in the top of the seventh inning to knot the game at 2-2.

With the game going to the top of the eighth inning, the international tie break rule was put into effect.

With each team starting the inning with a runner at second base, the rule aided the Rebels greatly as they added two runs in the inning in the form of Taylor McManus and Kayla Cleckler to take a 4-2 lead.

The Mustangs answered, however, in the bottom half of the inning when Hailey Underwood and Chelsea Cox came across the plate for Isabella to tie the game at 4-all and send the contest into the ninth inning.

The Rebels picked up one more run in the top of the ninth inning, and while the Mustangs managed to push two runners to second and third, two consecutive outs by the Rebel defense ended the game and set up the tournament’s championship matchup.

With McManus fresh off a nine-inning game on the mound for the Rebels and the Tigers coming in fresh off a late come-from-behind win over the Panthers, the championship game was set to get under way.

A Tiger error in the first inning on a McManus ground ball led to the Rebels’ first run of the game when she later come around to score on another Chilton County error to give Thorsby an early 1-0 lead.

Chilton answered in the bottom half of the second inning when Cassie Phillips reached and later scored on an error by the Rebels to tie the game at 1-all.

Thorsby tacked on another run in the top of the fourth inning when a Niamon double to deep centerfield set up an RBI single for McManus to give the Rebels a 2-1 lead.

Errors haunted the Rebels heavily in the fifth as Phillips started the inning by reaching on an error and was followed by Destinee Scott reaching after being hit by a pitch.

With two out and two on, the Rebels looked poised to rebound from the early errors and snuff out the Tigers’ scoring threat, but an RBI single by Kelsey Headley and a two-run double by Caton propelled Chilton County to a 4-2 lead.

The Rebels answered in the top of the sixth when Kayla Cleckler drove in Ashlyn Chancellor on an RBI ground ball, and Charlet Childress scored McManus on a single back up the middle to tie the game at 4-all.

Taylor Smitherman started the Tigers’ half of the sixth inning with a leadoff double, and reached as far as third base before three consecutive outs brought the inning to a close and sent the game to the seventh with the score still tied at 4-4.

Reeser started the seventh for Thorsby with a single to centerfield, but was stranded on third after a Rebels’ strikeout and two ground ball outs to the Tiger defense.

A Caelyn Griffin infield ground ball was mishandled by the Rebels, and put the game-winning run on first for the Tigers in the home half of the seventh inning. Two quick outs for the Tigers managed to advance Griffin to third, but the Tigers were also down to their final out.

With Caton at the plate for the Tigers and facing a 3-1 count, ball four from McManus put Caton aboard and brought up Kelley with two away. Facing a 1-0 count, Kelley sent a fly ball over the Rebel infield, pushing Griffin across home plate and giving the Tigers the 2015 County Tournament Championship.

Caton led the Tigers in the championship game with a 2-for-3 performance with two doubles and two RBI. Kailey Cordes pitched three innings while allowing two earned runs and recording three strikeouts.

McManus led the Thorsby bats with a 3-for-4 performance with three singles and an RBI. She also pitched a complete game with two strikeouts, six hits and one walk.