Rebels, Panthers have strong showings in county tournament

Published 1:19 pm Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
Jemison's Madison Moore reaches out to catch a pop up in a contest against Chilton County on the tournament's second day.

Jemison’s Madison Moore reaches out to catch a pop up in a contest against Chilton County on the tournament’s second day.

By Brandon Sumrall and Drew Granthum

The 2015 Chilton County Softball Tournament began March 19, with six squads squaring off at Sam Bentley Field in Thorsby in pool play to set the bracket for a single-elimination tournament on March 20.

Jemison opened the tournament strong, going undefeated in pool play March 19, and Thorsby surging in the single-elimination tournament March 20 to make it all the way to the title game.

The Rebels came close to taking the championship, but eventually fell to Chilton County High School, 5-4.

The Panthers also went 2-0 on the day in pool play competition, defeating Maplesville, 17-0, and Thorsby, 9-1.

In the Maplesville contest, Jessica Paschal went 2-for-2 with two RBI, Destiny Bailey went 2-for-2 with two runs scored and three RBI and Dara Harris went 2-for-3 with two triples and three RBI.

On the mound, Kennise Bolton went three innings, surrendering just three hits and striking out five.

Against Thorsby, Kelsen Cole, Laura Vinzant and Bailey all went 2-for-3. Cole had two RBI in the contest.

Defensively, Hannah Corbin went six innings, giving up no earned runs on four hits and striking out three.

The Panthers earned a bye in the first round in the single-elimination tournament via being a No. 1 seed, and squared off with rival Chilton County in the second round.

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 its ticket to the championship match.

Corbin and Bailey were named to the All-Tournament Team for their performances.

The Rebels split their two contests on March 19, falling to Jemison, 9-1, and taking down Maplesville, 4-3, in extra innings.

In the Jemison contest, Taylor McManus went 2-for-3 at the plate,
McManus tossed seven innings, surrendering seven runs on 14 hits, striking out nine.

In the Maplesville contest, Charlet Childress went 2-for-3, while Lilly Barnett went 1-for-3 with an RBI and McManus went 2-for-4 with two RBI.

The Rebels started the single-elimination tournament with a convincing 22-2 win over the Verbena Red Devils.

Things got 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 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 County 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's Taylor McManus celebrates with head coach Leighsa Robinson after clinching a spot in the 2015 Chilton County Softball Tournament championship game.

Thorsby’s Taylor McManus celebrates with head coach Leighsa Robinson after clinching a spot in the 2015 Chilton County Softball Tournament championship game.


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 Cleckler drove in Ashlyn Chancellor on an RBI ground ball, and 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.

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.

McManus, Barnett and Chancellor were all named to the All-Tournament Team for their performances.