Five local teams still alive

By Staff
Kim West
Franklin County Times
With the state playoffs in full swing, there are five Franklin County baseball and softball teams still alive and hoping to bring home an elusive Blue Map trophy.
In baseball, No. 8 Russellville will play No. 7 Hartselle tonight in one of the more interesting third-round series because the winner would have a lot of momentum heading into the Class 5A semifinals.
Last week the Golden Tigers (35-12) came back from an opening game loss to win a best-of-three series on the road against a stubborn Mortimer Jordan team.
Phil Campbell, which is ranked eighth in Class 2A, has a chance to rip a monkey off its back this weekend against No. 5 Ranburne, which has eliminated the Bobcats (24-11) the past two seasons in the state playoffs.
Phil Campbell split the first two games last week and won the deciding Game 3 over an overmatched Westbrook Christian team to advance to the quarterfinals.
In softball, there are three county teams that managed to get through their area tournaments this week and will play in a sub-state game next Tuesday.
Tharptown is enjoying a record-setting season as the county champion Lady Wildcats qualified for the school's first-ever varsity playoffs by finishing second in the Class 1A, Area 15 tournament at Athens Bible School Monday.
Tharptown (21-11) lost to Athens Bible twice but defeated Decatur Heritage twice by a combined score of 37-5, including a 19-hit outburst in an 18-2 victory. The Lady Wildcats will play at either Marion County or Hackleburg, the Area 12 winner, on Tuesday afternoon, in a sub-state series.
"We're the first sport to make the playoffs in in anything," Tharptown coach Susie Sellers said. "They're having a pep rally for us Monday, and the whole school and the community have really gotten behind us."
The Belgreen softball team (17-10) fought its way out of the loser's bracket Tuesday in the Class 1A, Area 16 tournament in Muscle Shoals to earn a berth in the sub-state playoffs.
The No. 8 Lady Bulldogs beat Vina 5-4 as Deborah Billingham allowed two hits to earn the victory and the mound and Loren McVicker had two hits and three RBIs.
Belgreen beat Covenant Christian 12-3 as Katelin Barber homered and Deborah Billingham had two hits, while Martha Billingham (8-5) earned the win, scattering five hits and striking out six with two walks. Amber Smith, who also provided pitching relief against Vina, added three hits against Covenant Christian.
Belgreen lost 5-2 in the tournament championship game despite two RBIS and three hits from Lauren Oliver. Loren McVicker (8-5) took the loss for the Lady Bulldogs, while Kristin Melton earned the win for Waterloo.
Belgreen will travel to play the Area 14 winner Tuesday.
"We've achieved two of the three goals we set this season," Belgreen coach Frank Billingham said. "We wanted to win the area but we accomplished our goal of making it to sub-state. We also wanted to have a winning record and win 18 games, which is still possible if we win Tuesday even though we missed 10 games because of rainouts."
In Class 2A, Area 16, the Red Bay softball team won its 20th game and the area tournament championship Tuesday by blanking Mars Hill 9-0 Tuesday.
The Lady Tigers (20-11) won three games in the tournament by a combined margin of 33-1 and earned the right to host a sub-state series next Tuesday afternoon against the Area 14 runner-up.
Kim West is sports editor for The Franklin County Times. She can be reached at kim.west@fct.wpengine.com or (256) 332-1881, ext. 30.

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