Lady Eagles fly through area tournament


Photo: The Hokes Bluff High softball team gathers for a phot after winning the Class 3A Area 11 Tournament on Monday, April 29at HBHS. (Courtesy of Alex Chaney)

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

Hokes Bluff submitted a fine showing at the recent Class 3A Area 11 softball tournament at HBHS.
After receiving a first-round by, the Lady Eagles (21-12-1) defeated Glencoe twice, 3-1 in the semifinals on Saturday, April 27 and 10-0 in the championship game on Monday, April 29.
Both Hokes Bluff and Glencoe advanced to the East Regional Tournament next week in Albertville.
“We played Glencoe a little tight in the first game, but I thought we were a lot looser [on Monday],” said Hokes Bluff head coach Rush Rutledge. “We did our jobs. We’ve been hitting pretty consistently one through nine all year. Whenever we needed something, different people came through, not just one player.”
It took Hokes Bluff only five innings to dispatch the Lady Yellow Jackets in the title contest. The Lady Eagles pushed across four runs in the first inning, one in the second, two in the third and three more in the fourth.
Lacey Grace Hall went the distance on the mound for Hokes Bluff, scattering five hits and two walks while striking out four. Her finest moments came in the second and third innings, when in both instances she struck out a Glencoe batter looking after the Lady Jackets had the bases loaded with two outs.
“She’s only a freshman, and Lacey’s a player that’s willing to work to get better,” said Rutledge. “It’s a grind for her sometimes, and she has a point to prove, being that there’s a lot of naysayers out there. She comes through in pressure situations and she gets out of jams. If Glencoe scores a run or two either time, it might have been a different story.”
Hall received all the support she would need in the bottom of the first on a two-run single by Sophia Jackson and a two-RBI double from Chloe Dodd.
Abby Payne singled home Addie Robertson in the second, while Dodd went yard with Peyton Ward on base in the third to make it 7-0. Jackson put to rest any notion of a Glencoe rally with a three-run homer in the fourth.
Jackson went 2-for-3 with five RBI and two runs scored; Dodd went 3-for-3 with four RBI and a run scored; Payne went 2-for-2 an RBI and a run scored; and Ward had a hit and three runs scored.
Summer Crump, Aubrey Maxwell, Jordyn Morris, Caitlin Romano and Evelyn Nowak each had a hit for the Lady Yellow Jackets.
Saturday’s semifinal was for the most part a pitching duel between Hall and Crump. In seven innings, Hall allowed three hits, no earned runs and no walks with four strikeouts. Crump scattered four hits, two earned runs and two walks while fanning one.
Following Cayse Willett’s RBI groundout in the top of the first, Hall retire 12 of the next 13 batters, not including intentional walks in the fourth and sixth innings. Besides Crump in the first inning, no Glencoe runner advanced past second base.
Hokes Bluff tied the score in the bottom of the first when Ryan Lumpkin singled in Payne.
Crump proceeded to keep the Lady Eagles off the scoreboard until the bottom of the fifth when Makenna Bennich homered over the leftfield wall.
Bennich went 1-for-2 with two RBI and a run scored, Lumpkin had a hit and an RBI and Payne scored two runs. Crump, Morris and Adyson Owens accounted for Glencoe’s three hits.
Rutledge likes his team’s chances in Albertville next week.
“I’ve only got four girls who’ve had substantial playing experience at regionals, so there’s going to be some nerves in that first game for our younger players. They need to work through that. We’re going to go up there and have a good time and try our best to get to the state tournament, which has been our goal all year.”

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