Photo: Hokes Bluff’s Chloe Carter delivers a pitch during the Etowah County Schools softball tournament on March 26 at Gaston. (Alex Chaney)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Hokes Bluff went 5-1 at the Gulf Shores Classic earlier this week at the Gulf Shores Sports Complex. The Lady Eagles swept through pool play on March 28 and 29, posting a 7-2 win over Class 6A Homewood, a 6-3 victory over Class 5A Lawrence County, a 6-5 win over Chattanooga (Tenn.) Christian and a 7-5 win over Class 1A No. 4 Athens Bible.
In the elimination round on Wednesday, March 30, Abby Payne’s bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh gave Hokes Bluff a 4-3 victory over Class 7A Foley, 4-3. The Lady Eagles then fell to Class 5A No. 6 Mortimer Jordan, 5-0.
“It was a tough tournament against some tough competition, and I thought our girls played well,” said HBHS softball coach Rush Rutledge. “We’re just trying to learn how to win. We got ourselves in a bind in a few games and battled back, so that was a big thing for us. We learned lot about ourselves and hopefully we got better, which I think we did.”
Against Homewood, Makenna Bennich went 2-for-3 with a triple, a double, two RBI and a run scored; Halle Davenport went 2-for-3 with two runs scored; and Abby Payne went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Against Lawrence County, Bailee Latronico went 2-for-3 with a double, two RBI and a run scored; Makenna Bennich went 2-for-3 with two runs scored; Kileigh Blackwell went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored; Kayla Traylor had a two-RBI double; and Hayden Wolfe had a hit, an RBI and a run scored. Blackwell earned the win on the mound, scattering three hits and three walks while allowing no earned runs.
Against Athens Bible, Bailee Latronico went 3-for-3 with three runs scored; Kayla Traylor had a hit and three RBI; Halle Davenport had a hit, two RBI and a run scored; and Abby Payne had a two-RBI double. Winning pitcher Makenna Bennich allowed five hits, two earned runs and four walks while striking out three.
Blackwell notched the win against Foley, allowing six hits, two earned runs and three walks with seven strikeouts. At the plate, Latronico went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Rosie Garrett went 2-for-3, while Blackwell, Ava Dodd and Hayden Wolfe each had a hit and a run scored.
Latronico had the Lady Eagles’ lone hit against Mortimer Jordan.
Rutledge noted that the team had lost four games by one run before arriving at Gulf Shores.
“The tables finally turned a little bit down here, and we started winning those close games,” he said. “It was hot and we were up the last two mornings at 5:30 for an 8 a.m. game, so I’m very proud of them for playing hard and keeping focused and battling through it.”