Maplesville wins central regional tournament, Verbena advances in second

Published 12:15 pm Friday, May 12, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Maplesville High School dominated the AHSAA Class 1A Central Regional Softball Tournament at Lagoon Park in Montgomery to punch their ticket to the Class 1A state tournament. The Red Devils outscored their opponents 43-2 over the three games from May 9-10.

Verbena High School also advanced to the state tournament by advancing through the loser’s bracket and avenged an earlier tournament loss to South Lamar High School to clinch the runner-up spot from the regional.

Maplesville opened its regional tournament with a 16-0 win in three innings over Loachapoka High School on May 9. The Red Devils scored eight runs in each of the first two innings up to bat and blasted six doubles. Four players had two RBIs each, and Kennedy Reed led the way with three RBIs. She also pitched a one-hitter with eight strikeouts in the circle.

Maplesville ended its May 9 docket with a 17-0 win over Keith High School scoring 11 runs in the second inning to blow the game open. Mollie Kayte Smith dominated in both phases with three RBIs at the plate and eight strikeouts in the circle. Jadon McGee and Laci Cook each contributed two RBIs.

With a spot in the state tournament on the line, Maplesville faced off against South Lamar on May 10. The Red Devils went down 2-0 early, but scored four runs in the fourth inning and six runs in the fifth inning to take a commanding 10-2 lead. Lexi Smith was 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs to lead Maplesville, and Cook had a home run and two RBIs.

“We played pretty well,” Maplesville coach Clark Watley said. “The girls played really good defense, and they hit the ball really well. They deserved victory for the way they practiced and played all year, and that was our message to them.”

Verbena’s regional tournament started with an 11-0 win over Wadley High School on May 9 where it outhit Wadley 13-1. Jaycee Quinn threw all five innings and struck out 10 hitters. Kadence Willis’ three RBIs led the team, and Kiara Ray launched a home run from the leadoff spot in the lineup.

“Our girls just played lights out and we played the best ball we have played all year,” Verbena coach Geoffery Lockhart said. “We had a great defensive tournament, we are finally coming together as a team and Jaycee pitched an outstanding tournament. Our defense stood behind her and helped out. We were clicking on all cylinders and we are peaking at the right time.”

Verbena’s May 9 schedule closed with a 3-2 loss to South Lamar. The Red Devils held a 2-1 lead from the top of the second inning until South Lamar pushed across two runs in the sixth inning to take the win. Quinn was 2-for-3 and had another 10-strikeout effort in the circle.

Verbena went into May 10 knowing they needed to win three consecutive games to make the state tournament, and it began that quest with a 9-0 win over Berry High School. Quinn surrendered one hit and struck out 14 hitters. She joined Maya Schuffert with two RBIs to lead the team.

Verbena advanced to play Wadley for a second time and shut them out again, this time 16-0 in three innings. Quinn did not allow a hit and had seven strikeouts. However, she did most of her damage at the plate with three home runs and accounting for six RBIs.

That win set up a rematch with South Lamar to see who would be the second representative from the central region at the state tournament. Quinn again was stellar in both phases with 10 strikeouts in the circle and a home run and two RBIs at the plate. Lakeyn Mims had two home runs and three RBIs to help boost Verbena to a 6-2 win.

Maplesville and Verbena advance to the 2023 AHSAA Class 1A State Softball Tournament at Choccolocco Park in Oxford on May 16-17.