Red Bay softball overcomes Hatton curse for area title
Scot Beard and Slade Gilmer
HATTON – Three times during the regular season the Red Bay varsity girls softball team faced Hatton. Three times during the season the Lady Tigers walked off the field with a loss.
Tuesday the team saw different results when it mattered most as Red Bay defeated Hatton 8-6 in the championship game of the Class 2A, Area 14 tournament to claim the area title.
"The girls played tough and persevered," said Red Bay coach Donnie Roberts. "They wanted it bad enough to win it."
The Lady Tigers opened the area tournament with a win against county rival Phil Campbell to earn a spot in the winners' bracket finals where they faced Hatton. Red Bay prevailed with a 3-0 victory to clinch a trip to the region tournament, but was not satisfied until it claimed the area title.
Hatton fought out of the losers bracket to set up a rematch with Red Bay. The Lady Hornets won the first game 13-1.
The Lady Tigers let Hatton know beating them a second time would not be so easy.
Red Bay scored three runs in the top of the first inning when Holly Hammock singled, moved around the bases on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch. Kirstin Sharp reached on an error, moved around the bases on the wild pitch and scored on a single by Whitney Sharp.
Whitney Sharp added the final run of the inning by scoring on an error by the center fielder.
Hatton threaten in the bottom of the inning by loading the bases with no outs. Whitney Sharp struck out the next batter before the following batter reached on a fielder's choice, allowing the runner at third to score. Sharp recorded another strike out then got the following batter to ground out the end the threat.
The Lady Tigers kept their offense rolling in the second by scoring four more runs to increase their lead to 7-1.
Hatton chipped into the Red Bay advantage with a pair of runs in the second, but the Lady Tigers buckled down defensively and did not allow another Hatton run until the seventh.
Red Bay added another run in the sixth when Taylor Hester – who reached on an error – stole second, moved to third on fielder's choice and scored on a double by Kirstin Sharp.
Hatton made the game close in the bottom of the seventh. The leadoff hitter doubled and the next hitter reached on an error.
The following batter grounded out, but the next batter double to score the lead runner. A sacrifice later in the inning allowed the other two runners to score to cut the deficit to 8-6.
Hatton had another batter reach base, but Whitney Sharp struck out the final batter to secure the area title for Red Bay.
Hammock finished the game with a pair of singles while Kirstin Sharp hit a single and a triple. Whitney Sharp and Lauren Williams each had a single while Emily Cox doubled.
Whitney Sharp earned the win, allowing seven hits and striking out six.
With the win, Red Bay advances to the region tournament in Huntsville where they will play the runner up of the Class 2A, Area 16 runner up.
Hatton forced a winner-take-all championship game by defeating Red Bay 13-1 in the first game of the Class 2A, Area 14 Tournament finals.
Cox doubled and singled while Williams, Kirstin Sharp and Taylor Hester each singled for Red Bay.
Phil Campbell 0
The Lady Hornets started slow, but finished strong in the losers' bracket final against Phil Campbell.
Hatton scored 10 runs in the fourth inning to put the game away.
Erica Halcomb had the only hit for Phil Campbell, a single in the fourth inning.
Phil Campbell 7,
Mars Hill 6
The Lady Bobcats fought off elimination by defeating Mars Hill 7-6 to reach the finals of the losers' bracket.
Phil Campbell rallied from a 6-2 deficit in the sixth inning to take the lead.
Jessie Halcomb singled while Erica Holcomb and Shalea Pace doubled for the Lady Bobcats.
Whitley Yocum hit a pair of singles while Amber Chaney, Talina Stehno and Kim Clark had one single each for Phil Campbell.
Red Bay 3
Cox shut down the Lady Hornets, holding the 2A, Area 14 regular season champions to three hits in a shutout win over Hatton to clinch a spot in the region tournament. Cox walked two and struck out two in the complete game victory.
Cox helped herself by hitting a double and adding an RBI in the top of the sixth.
Whitney Sharp led the Lady Tigers at the plate, going 3-for-3, while Kirstin Sharp, Hannah Sharp, Williams and Hester each added a hit for Red Bay.
Phil Campbell 11,
Jessi Halcomb went 3-for-4 at the plate to lead the Lady Bobcats past Cherokee in an elimination game during the 2A, Area 14 softball tournament at Hatton. Kim Clark added two hits and earned the win, allowing eight hits and striking out three in the win. Yocom, Korina Jimenez, Brooke Hallman, Erica Halcomb and Pace added hits for Phil Campbell.