By Chris McCarthy/Editor
The Etowah High School softball team’s season came to an abrupt halt at the Class 5A state softball tournament on Wednesday (May 18) at Lagoon Park in Montgomery.
The Lady Blue Devils (42-15-1) opened the tournament with a 7-3 loss to Helena in 10 innings, dropping the Attalla squad into the playback bracket, where the team lostto Alexandria, 5-1.
Etowah fell behind 3-0 early on against Helena before tying the game on Jessica Smith’s three-run home run in the bottom of the third. Emma Jones singled and Alyssa Howard doubled earlier in the inning.
The score remained knotted at 3-3 until the top of the 10th, when the Lady Huskies pushed across four runs on a three hits and a sacrifice fly. The Lady Blue Devils went down in order in the bottom of the inning on two strikeouts and a flyout.
“We hit the ball, but we didn’t hit it as well as we should have,” said Etowah head coach Stephen Coggins. “We had a few calls that didn’t go our way and had a few situations late in the game where we could have put the game away but we didn’t. After [Helena] hit that home run early on, Madison [Grant] really kept them at bay. But we just couldn’t push that last run across the board over those last few innings.”
For Etowah, Aimee Fancher went 3-for-4; Smith had a home run, three RBI and a run scored; and Howard and Jones each had a hit and a run scored.
Grant took the loss on the mound, scattering 15 hits, six earned runs and one walk while fanning four in 10 innings.
“I really feel that if we won that game, we’ve would have gotten some momentum,” said Coggins. “But that game took so much out of us phy-sically, mentally and emotionally. It was just a tough game to lose.”
The Lady Blue Devils managed just five hits against Alexandria starting pitcher Lauren O’Dell, who walked none and struck out eight.
The Lady Valley Cubs jumped out to a 4-0 lead after one inning. Etowah pulled within three runs in the top of the fifth when Bree Vasser doubled and scored on an RBI groundout by Madison Grant.
But Alexandria tacked on another run in the bottom of the inning, and the Lady Blue failed to muster any more offense against O’Dell the rest of the way.
Vasser went 2-for-4 with a run scored, while Jones and Taylor Bush each had a hit.
“We only gave up three hits and we had five, so that one was a tough one to swallow,” said Coggins. “I also thought that we pitched pretty well, but in the end it didn’t come out in our favor on the scoreboard.”
Coggins noted that the 2016 Lady Blue Devils set school records for most fast-pitch wins and most home runs and state records in most grand slams in a both an inning and a game.
Coggins had special praise for his seven-member senior class of Grant, Fancher, Howard, Krislyn Farmer, Heather Bush, Savannah Waddell and Britney Wright.
“I can’t say enough about this group. They’re hard workers who have a bunch of grit and never give up. I know in about five or six years after the finish college, I’ll be talking with a bunch of adults who will have their degrees. They’ll be successful in whatever they choose to do.”