By Stan Veitch/Sports Correspondent
Claire Graves was almost unhittable on Saturday (Apr. 11) in the championship game of the Etowah County Softball Tournament.
The Southside senior allowed only two hits and five baserunners while striking out 14 in a 4-0 victory over Glencoe in Walnut Grove.
“(Claire) is a definite threat because of her capabilities,” Southside coach Angie Sanders said. “She deserves everything she gets.”
One thing Graves did get was the tournament’s Most Valuable Player trophy.
In addition to her pitching performance, Graves had a double and a solo home run, driving in three runs.
“I got down 0-2 (on the home run at-bat),” Graves said. “But I worked it back to a full count, then was able to sit back and wait for my pitch.”
Southside (25-2 and ranked No. 1 in Class 6A) scored a run in the first inning, with Emilee Coker reaching on a bunt single.
Savannah Elkins was thrown out at first on a bunt, but Coker went all the way to third and later scored on a grounder by Graves.
Graves’ homer came in the third inning, and then in the fifth came her RBI double.
It looked as if Glencoe (20-5-1) was going to score in the sixth, but Morgan Lyles was thrown out at home on Sally Tinker’s double.
“We were expecting a tough game out of Glencoe,” Sanders said. “They’ve got a solid team and should do well in the (Class 3A) playoffs. (Glencoe starting pitcher) Jessica Rathje was really good today – when she’s on, they’re hard to beat.”
In the tournament semifinals earlier in the day, the Lady Panthers defeated Sardis, 9-0, while Glencoe posted a 12-0 victory over Gaston. Sardis defeated West End, 10-0.
Joining Graves on the all-tournament team were Elkins, Brittany Williams and Paiden Kircus from Southside; Rathje, Lyles and Alaina Hampton from Glencoe; Samantha Mathis and Darby Samples from Gaston; Madelyn Gazaway and Lauryn Noojin from Sardis; Maddy Jennings from Hokes Bluff; and Payten Butts from West End.