Sardis back on top in county softball

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Photo: The Sardis High softball team gathers for a photo following the Lady Lions victory over Hokes Bluff in the Etowah County Schools Tournament championship game on Saturday, March 23 at Hokes Bluff. Pictured, kneeling, from left: Halle Haynes, Annahkate Waldrep, Bailey Lusk, Barit Snead, Maddie Harris, Lexy Lee. Standing, from left: assistant coach Emily Cook, assistant coach Labron Lusk, assistant coach Amy Edwards, Baylor Gilmer, Vada Willmore, Adison Carnes, Presley Hubbard, Jalyn Hannah, Jordyn Knight, Mya Glass, head coach Richey Lee, assistant coach Dylan Bolding. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger) 

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

A pair of solid pitching efforts from Tournament MVP Maddie Harris helped the Sardis High softball team to its first Etowah County Schools Tournament title in four years on Saturday, March 23 at Hokes Bluff.
The Lady Lions (9-5) opened with a 3-1 win over Class 3A No. 9 Glencoe, followed by a 4-2 victory over Class 2A No. 2 and previously unbeaten West End, 4-2. Sardis then held off Hokes Bluff, 3-2, in the championship game to earn the program’s first county title since 2020
“We played in some close games lately, and that paid off for us today, because all three games were close,” said Sardis head softball coach Richey Lee. “We’ve been getting better and better defensively, and that showed today.”
Harris, who limited Glencoe to five hits and one run earlier in the day, held the fort in the finals. The Lady Eagles (10-7-1) amassed 10 hits but stranded seven baserunners. Harris issued one walk while striking out six.
“Maddie did an unbelievable job for us today,” said Lee. “She was able to locate her stuff and get in on some hands. She was able to battle through at times and get some tough outs for us.”
Harris’ first test in the title game came early on when Abby Payne doubled and Makenna Bennich singled to put runners on the corners with one out in the top of the first inning. But Sardis catcher Jalyn Hannah threw out Bennich attempting to steal second base, and Harris induced a lineout to third in the next at-bat to escape the inning unscathed.
The Lady Eagles threatened again in the top of the third when Hall and Payne singled and Bennich drew a walk to lead the bases with one out, but Harris struck out the next two batters to keep the scoreboard empty.
The Sardis offense ignited in the bottom of the inning when Baylor Gilmer doubled home Adison Carnes from second base. Later in the inning, Jalyn Hannah doubled off the right field wall to drive in Barit Snead and Annah Kate Waldrep to make it 3-0.
Lacy Grace Hall sent the Lady Lions down in order in the fourth, and Payne doubled and Benncih singled to set the table for Ryan Lumpkin, who plated Payne with a base hit to draw the Lady Eagles within 3-1.
Hall then retired six of the next seven Sardis batters to keep Hokes Bluff within striking distance, and the Lady Eagles took advantage in the top of the seventh when Hall doubled and scored on Payne’s single to cut the Sardis lead to one run with one out.
But that was as close as Hokes Bluff would get, as Harris induced a fly out and ground out to end the game and give the Lady Lions the first-place plaque.
In six innings, Hall allowed six hits, two runs and two walks while fanning four. She went 2-for-4 at the plate. Payne went 4-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, while Bennich went 2-for-3.
“Sardis and Southside are good softball teams, so it was a grind for us today,” said Hokes Bluff softball coach Rush Rutledge. “We played our tails off and played as well as we could, and we just came a run short. Having the bases loaded with one out and not getting anything, that probably was the turning point of the game. But give Sardis credit; we didn’t beat ourselves; we just got beat by a good team.
“When you’re starting a seventh grader, three or four ninth graders and a 10th grader, you’re going to have some growing pains. But we’re getting better, and that’s all that I can ask for.”
Joining Harris on the all-tournament team were Sidney Fitts from Gaston; Cayse Willett and Abi Bunt from Glencoe; Jovi Marble, Ava Ramsey and Peyton Burrell from Southside; Josie Bunch, Addie Mashburn and Kaylee Tarpley from West End; Hall, Bennich and Payne from Hokes Bluff; and Waldrep, Jordyn Knight and Lexi Lee from Sardis.
Sardis 4, West End 2
With Sardis and West End tied 1-1 through four innings, the Lady Lions scored four runs in the top of the fifth on the way to a 4-2 victory in the Etowah County Schools softball tournament semifinals on Saturday, March 23 at Hokes Bluff.
After West End pitcher Josie Bunch retired Sardis in order in the top of the first, the Lady Patriots (11-1) took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning in Bunch’s RBI base hit in the bottom of the inning.
Sardis tied it up in the second by way of Vada Willmore’s double and subsequent score off a Harris single.
In the fifth, Annah Kate Waldrep scored off an error, Willmore doubled in Halle Haynes and Carnes came home on an error to put the Lady Lions ahead 4-1.
The Lady Patriots drew within two runs when Kaylee Tarpley went yard on the first pitch of the bottom of the inning. But Haynes induced a game-ending flyout with a runner on first base.
In five innings, Haynes allowed four hits, two runs and three walks with four strikeouts. Willmore went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Liddy Falkner went 2-for-3 for West End.

Sardis 3, Glencoe 1
Maddie Harris threw a complete game five-hiiter to lead Sardis past Class 3A No. 8 Glencoe, 3-1, in in the Etowah County Schools softball tournament on Saturday, March 23 at Hokes Bluff.
In seven innings, Harris did not issue a walk and retired the side in order four times, including the top of the seventh inning to secure the win.
Following Emma Croy’s score off a fielder’s choice in the top of the first inning, Harris sent down 19 of the next 22 Glencoe batters.
The Lady Lions did not trail for long, as Annahkate Waldrep deposited a 3-2 pitch behind the centerfield wall. Sardis took the lead for good in the bottom of the second on Harris’ RBI double. Lexi Lee’s home run in the fourth provided some insurance. Jordyn Knifght went 2-for-3 for the Lady Lions.
Summer Crump went six innings for the Lady Yellow Jackets, scattering eight hits for walks while striking gout four. Cayse Willet went 2-for-3 for Glencoe.

Hokes Bluff 3, Southside 2
Lacy Grace Hall’s score off Makenna Bennich’s sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth inning pulled Hokes Bluff past defending champion and Class 5A No. 7 Southside in the Etowah County Schools softball tournament semifinals on Saturday, March 23 at Hokes Bluff.
A pitcher’s duel between Hall and Southside’s Jalyn Allen ended in the former’s favor. In five innings, Hall allowed one hit, two runs and five walks while fanning three. Allen allowed one hit, two earned runs and four walks while striking out eight.
The Lady Eagles jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first when Sophia Jackson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Abby Payne scored on a fielder’s choice.
The Lady Panthers (15-5-1) trimmed their deficit to one run in the bottom of the inning when Jovi Marble bunted home Peyton Burrell.
Southside tied it up in the bottom of the third on Ava Ramsey’s score off an error. Following Hall’s run in the top of the fifth, the Lady Panthers had runners on first and third with one out in the bottom of the inning, but Hall induced a flyout and ground out to secure the win.
Hokes Bluff 11, Gaston 1
Hokes Bluff scored four runs in the first innings, two in the second and five more in the third on the way to an 11-0 win over Gaston in the Etowah County Schools softball tournament on Saturday, March 23 at Hokes Bluff.
For the Lady Eagles, Abby Payne and Makenna Bennich each went 1-for-2 with a home run, two RBI and a run scored; Lacy Grace Hall went 1-for-3 with a double, two RBI and three runs scored; Peyton Ward went 1-for-2 with a double, two RBI and a run scored; and Ryan Lumpkin went 1-for-2 with two RBI. In four innings, winning pitcher Ward allowed one hit and four walks with six strikeouts. Sidney Fitts had a hit and an RBI for the Lady Bulldogs.

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