Lady Patriots win second straight area title


Photo: The West End High softball team gathers for a photo after winning the Class 2A Area 10 Tournament championship on Tuesday, April 30 in Walnut Grove. (Submitted photo)

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

West End recently won its second straight Class 2A Area 10 championship by way of a blowout and a nail biter in Walnut Grove.
Following a first-round bye, the Lady Patriots (21-10-1) defeated Cleveland 14-1 in the semifinals and 11-10 in the championship game to earn a berth in the East Regional Tournament next week in Albertville.
In the title contest on Tuesday, April 30, Braylee King’s one-out base hit in the bottom of the seventh inning scored Addy Mashburn for the walk-off victory. Mashburn led off the inning with a single and advanced to third base on Kaylee Tarpley’s sacrifice bunt.
“It was definitely an exciting ending,” said West End head coach Ricky Watkins. “We had a lot of people out here supporting us, which helped a lot.”
Matters were not going in West End’s favor over the first three innings when the Lady Panthers built a 9-1 lead. But Liddy Falkner’s RBI sacrifice fly in the third got the hosts on the board, and a four-run fourth inning drew West End within 10-5.
Emma Franklin came on in relief for two innings, and Falkner provided the Lady Patriots with a pair of scoreless innings. West End took advantage with three runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth.
Kenndi Nix supplied some heavy artillery with a three-run home run with two outs in the fifth, while Josie Bunch went yard in the sixth with King on base to tie the game at 10-all.
“I thought Kenndi’s home run was the turning point of the game,” said Watkins. “It was a big momentum shift, and Josie’s [home run] in the next inning kept it going.”
Bunch retired three straight batters in the top of the seventh after a leadoff single by Cleveland, and King’s game-winning hit in the bottom of the inning cliched the championship.
King went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored; Falkner went 2-for-4 with two RBI; Nix had a home run, three RBI and two runs scored; Mashburn went 2-for-4 with a run scored; and Bunch had a home run, two RBI and a run scored.
The Lady Patriots polished off their semifinal win on Monday, April 29 in five innings. While Bunch limited Cleveland to five hits, one earned run and one walk in five innings, the West End lineup tagged the Lady Panther pitchers for 14 hits, including five for extra bases. The Lady Pats scored two runs in the first inning, six in the second, four in the third and two in the fourth.
Falkner went 3-for-3 with a triple, a double, four RBI and three runs scored; King went 4-for-4 with a double, four RBI and a run scored; and Bunch went 2-for-4 with a home run, four RBI and a run scored.
West End opens the double-elimination regional tournament against Fyffe on Wednesday, May 8 at 9 a.m.
“We haven’t played [Fyffe] this year so we don’t know a whole lot about them,” said Watkins. “But Fyffe is Fyffe, so they’ll be scrappy and play hard the whole time.”

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