Photo: Members of the Southside High softball greet Jayln Allen following her two-run home run during the championship game of the Etowah County Schools Tournament on Saturday, March 26 at Gaston. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
The Southside High softball team found itself in familiar territory early on in the championship game of the Etowah County Schools softball tournament when a three-run home run by Casey Willett and an RBI single from Calee Morgan put Glencoe ahead 8-2 in the bottom of the third inning.
Unfortunately for Glencoe, Southside had the the Lady Yellow Jackets right where they wanted them.
Sparked by a three-run home run senior centerfielder Macey Herren in the top of the fifth and a two-run dinger by freshman Jalyn Allen in the top of the sixth – not to mention a pair of defensive gems by Herren that saved at least three runs – the Lady Panthers outscored Glencoe 9 to 1 over the final four innings for an 11-9 win and a second straight county tournament title.
In the semifinals earlier in the day, Southside trailed Sardis 4-0 before scoring nine unanswered runs in a 9-4 victory on Saturday, March 26, at Gaston.
“This has been the story of our season,” said Southside head softball coach Angie Reavis. “We’ve gotten behind n a lot of games, but we’ve never given up. That’s one thing I like about these kids. In just about every game this year, we’ve started in a deficit, but these kids fight and fight and fight and never give up.”
Herren, who was named Tournament MVP, went 2-for-4 with a home run, a double, four RBI and two runs scored.
“I wanted to go out with a bang considering that this is my last county tournament,” said Herren. “This team fought so hard to get to where we are, and we deserve this win. You won’t ever see this team give up or lay down just because we’re behind. We’re going to fight until the very end. No matter what kind of situation you’re in, you still have to give it our all, because you never know what will happen.”
Also for Southside (9-11), Maddie Griffith went 3-for-4, Peyton Burrell and Ava Ramsey each went 2-for-3 with two runs scored; Allen had a hit, two RBI and a run scored; and Bailey Houston had a hit, an RBI and a run scored.
“Macey is kind of a silent leader,” said Reavis. “With her actions, she a great model player for our team. Her character, her want-to, her drive and her discipline are all there.”
For Glencoe, Hailey Hanners went 2-for-4 with a double, a home run, three RBI and two runs scored; Willett went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double, four RBI and a run scored; Aubrey Maxwell went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored; and Summer Crump and Kaylee Higdon each went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Coming on in relief in the third inning, Allen did not allow a run until Maxwell’s leadoff home run in the bottom of the seventh. Allen retired the next three batters to secure the Lady Panthers’ win.
The Lady Yellow Jackets (15-7) put Southside in a 4-0 hole in the bottom of the first inning courtesy of Hanner’s three-run homer and Willett’s RBI double.
The Lady Panthers drew within 4-2 in the top of third when Ramsey and Burrell both scored off errors, but Glencoe put across four more runs in the bottom of the inning for an 8-2 lead, which turned out to be the high-water mark for the Lady Jackets.
Reavis nnoted that a number of her players were new to the starting lineup following the graduation of several standout seniors.
“It’s been challenging at times, and we’ve had a lot of teaching to do. Six of the nine are new, not only starting but [in terms of] roles and responsibilities.”
Joining Herren on the all-tournament were Maddy Griffith, Jaylen Allen and Peyton Burrell from Southside; Summer Crump, Hailey Hanners and Kaylee Higdon from Glencoe; Bailee Latronico and Rosie Garrett form Hokes Bluff; Jayda Lacks and Valerie Owens from Sardis; and Emma Samples from Gaston. West End did not participate in the tournament.
Glencoe reached the championship game by defeating Hokes Bluff, 5-3, in the semifinals. Crump was the winning pitcher, scattering six hits, one earned run and one walk while striking out one. At the plate, Higdon went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored, while Hanners had an RBI double. For the Lady Eagles, Latronico went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Kayla Traylor had a hit and two RBI.
Earlier in the day, Hokes Bluff defeated Gaston by a score of 12-3 in three innings. Garrett went 2-for-2 with a home run, a double, three RBI and a run scored; Makenna Bennich went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored; Kileigh Blackwell had a double, three RBI and a run scored; Halle Davenport had a triple, an RBI and two runs scored; Abby Payne had a double, an RBI and two runs scored; and Ava Dodd had a double, an RBI and two runs scored. For the Lady Bulldogs, Samples went 2-for-2 with an RBI.
“We can’t do what we do without all of our [assistant] coaches,” added Reavis. “We’ve got a great staff that has young girls who want to listen and learn and get better. These girls want to get to the next level, and they’re on their way.”