Jemison’s comeback bids not enough at area tournament

Published 2:50 pm Tuesday, May 2, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

Jemison High School traveled to Sylacauga High School on May 1 for the one-day AHSAA Class 5A Area 7 softball tournament, and the Panthers fell in their first two games to miss out on the regional tournament.

“We hit the ball well, and we did not have that many errors as a team,” Jemison coach Leighsa Robinson said. “I was really proud of the girls, and they fought hard.”

Jemison drew Shelby County High School in the first round after the No. 1 seed Sylacauga received a first-round bye. Shelby County jumped ahead early 9-0 after two innings, but the Panthers put together a four-run third inning with Jaclyn Lowery launching a three-run home run. Olivia Gilliland had an RBI single later in the inning to make it 9-4.

Shelby County added a run in their half of the third inning, but Jemison stormed back into the game in the fourth inning. Three consecutive singles to leadoff the inning was followed by a two-run double from Lowery and an RBI double by Kinsley Martin to cut the lead down to 10-7 without an out recorded.

Hannan Popwell knocked an RBI single later in the inning and loaded the bases, and Gilliland and Caley Branch followed behind with an RBI to tie the game at 10 runs apiece.

“From the time we started to the time we ended, they grew as a team,” Robinson said. “A lot of trust was built, and we had a lot of injuries and people were willing to step up and play in positions they do not normally play in, and do whatever they could for the betterment of the team.”

From there, Jemison was outscored 11-1 by Shelby County over the next inning and a half to fall 21-11 in five innings. Lowery scored in the top of the fifth inning on a passed ball for the Panthers 11th run.

Trinity Bean, Alyssa Hayes, Lowery, Martin and Popwell combined for 13 of Jemison’s 15 hits with Lowery leading the way going 3-for-4 with five RBIs. Both Martin and Bean went 3-for-4, and Popwell and Hayes each were 2-for-3.

The tournament was double elimination which sent Jemison into a matchup with Sylacauga at 3:30 p.m. after Shelby County defeated Sylacauga 4-3 to advance to the championship game.

The semifinal started scoreless until the bottom of the third inning when Sylacauga went up 2-0. The Panthers rallied in the fifth inning with four runs to take a 4-2 lead, punctuated by a two-run double from Braelyn Bradford that broke the 2-2 tie. Makayla Lang and Lowery each had RBI singles before the double. Lang returned for game two after injuring her labrum in game one.

Sylacauga stormed back in front with nine runs in their half of the fifth inning to lead 11-4. Jemison tried to fight back late when Lowery started a one-out rally in the seventh inning, and Martin followed behind her with a two-run home run. Jemison could not get any closer and lost 11-7 to end their season.

“I loved being able to come back home and wear that blue and white, and it means a lot to be on the field again (at Jemison),” Robinson said. “We have had a good time, and it has been challenging, but we won more games than we did last year. We improved from start to finish, and we had a lot of people to enjoy it with.”

Jemison posted a baker’s dozen of hits in its final game of the season, and Bradford, Hayes and Branch each went 2-for-3. The Panthers two through four hitters in the lineup, Lowery, Martin and Bradford, combined for six RBIs.