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1A area softball day one

THARPTOWN —   The end of April is here and the month of May is upon us.

With the end of April comes the end of the regular season for Franklin County’s softball teams.

And the end of the regular season means only one thing: playoffs.

Softball differs from its baseball counterpart in that each team competes in the first round of the postseason, which comes in the form of area tournaments.

Each area is hosted by its respective winner, and as for Class 1A Area 11, that host is the Tharptown Lady Wildcats, ranked at No. 10 in the 1A ASWA poll.

The Lady Wildcats went undefeated in area play and went into the tournament as the No. 1 seed.

The Hackleburg Lady Panthers took the second spot, while the Belgreen Lady Bulldogs were seeded No. 3.

The Vina Lady Red Devils came in at No. 4, and the Phillips She-Bears rounded out the tournament at No. 5.

Day one of the tournament came on Monday, just a few short hours after a storm shook Franklin County over the weekend.

Conditions were as to be expected after the heavy rains of early Sunday morning, but the teams soldiered on in the hopes of winning the 1A Area 11 tourney title.

The first match of the day was between the Lady Red Devils and She-Bears.

Neither team wanted to be the first relegated to the losers’ bracket in the tournament, and competition was fierce.

Vina and Phillips swapped leads through the game, but it was the Lady Red Devils that went up late and held onto their lead for a 10-8 victory.

Next up came a match between No. 2 Hackleburg and No. 3 Belgreen.

Sometimes things just do not go your way, and in the case of this leg of the tournament, nothing went Belgreen’s way.

Despite getting some solid cracks at bat early on, every time a Lady Bulldog batter hit the ball it seemed to be directly at a Lady Panther fielder.

The only run Belgreen managed came near the midpoint of the contest when Courtny Williams brought in Allyson Bragwell on a RBI single.

The Lady Panthers had no trouble getting things going on offense, and Hackleburg rolled to a 12-1 run-rule victory.

The next game in the winners’ bracket pitted Vina against host Tharptown.

It was the Lady Red Devils that scored the first run of the game as Emily Renfrow rounded the bases and was brought in on a single.

The Lady Wildcats wasted no time in responding with two runs of their own to take a 2-1 advantage.

It was all Tharptown all the time after that in the contest, as the Lady Wildcats cruised to a 17-2 victory.

The final game of Monday afternoon found Belgreen playing Phillips in the first round of the losers’ bracket.

Both teams were hoping to keep their tournament (and further postseason) hopes alive with a win, as another loss would mean an exit in the double-elimination tourney.

In a complete 180 from the game against Hackleburg, the Lady Bulldogs scored early and often against the She-Bears.

In the bottom of the first Shellie Barber, Bailey Clark, Allyson Bragwell, Kylie Murray, Skylar Nelson and Abby Hester produced some of the 12 hits for Belgreen, which netted six runs on the board.

Phillips made it 6-1 in the top of the second, but the Lady Bulldogs followed up with a three-RBI double by Clark in the bottom of the third, which brought home Anna Grace Humphres, Hester and Barber.

Williams, Nelson, Humphres, Hester and Bragwell each had a hit in the fifth, and the Lady Bulldogs added five more runs to their total for a 14-4 lead.

Clark threw her fourth strikeout of the game for the last out of the top of the fifth, and Belgreen defeated Phillips 14-4 by run rule.

Day two on Tuesday started with No. 1 seed and tourney host Tharptown once again facing the Hackleburg Lady Panthers.

Hackleburg did not do quite so well against the Lady Wildcats, whop picked up a reasonably easy 13-2 win.

The Lady Bulldogs, having already picked up one win in the losers’ side of the bracket, now faced off against the Red Devils, freshly in the losers’ bracket after the loss to Tharptown.

The contest was close as the two teams were evenly matched, but it was the Lady Bulldogs that won 11-8, putting out yet another opponent from the tourney.

This left Hackleburg and Belgreen to play for the chance to face the Lady Wildcats in the tournament finals.

This game and the tourney final were played after press time on Tuesday afternoon. Coverage of the 1A Area 11 finals as well as coverage of the Class 2A Area 16 tournament, played entirely on Tuesday in Colbert Heights, that Phil Campbell and Red Bay competed in will appear in Saturday’s edition of The Franklin County Times.