THS softball wins area
THARPTOWN — The Tharptown Lady Wildcats softball team has become accustomed to winning its area.
After all, the team from the relatively new high school has now won four-straight area titles against opponents like Belgreen, Hackleburg, Vina and Phillips.
Tharptown remained undefeated in the area this season and ran through the tournament without suffering a loss.
“It an awesome feeling,” Tharptown head coach Susie Sellers said.
“We set the bar high this season, and so far the girls have delivered.”
The victories in the area tourney put the Lady Wildcats at 33-12 on the season, and all but two of those losses came against teams from larger classes.
The only two Class 1A opponents that have managed to defeat Tharptown this year have been Berry and Lynn, which have both been ranked in the ASWA top 10 this season.
The Lady Wildcats split with the Lynn Lady Bears in a doubleheader recenlty in amatchup that pitted No. 8 against No. 10 (Tharptown.)
The Lady Wildcats found themselves ranked for the first time in school history at No. 10 in the next to last poll of the ASWA, and that position remained in the final poll of the year on April 25.
In years past the team travelled to Huntsville for the next leg of the playoffs, the regional tournament.
However, this year the areas were redrawn, and the Lady Wildcats will have to travel to Tuscaloosa for regionals.
The biggest change in this new format is that Tharptown will face teams like Sumiton Christian, Berry, Lynn, Parrish and the best Class 1As the large Tuscaloosa area has to offer.
Consensus is that the level of talent found in Tuscaloosa far exceeds
that found at the Huntsville regionals.
“We have been to Huntsville in the past and we were used to it,” Sellers said.
“Now we will be playing in a new place against new teams. We tried to schedule some of those new opponents this season to help us later on in the postseason.”
The Lady Wildcats will be heading to the regional tournament with fellow Class 1A Area 11 team Hackleburg, which was the runner-up of the area tourney.
The Lady Panthers found themselves at the head of the losers’ bracket in the area tourney by Tuesday afternoon. That meant they would have to face Tharptown, but the Lady Wildcats would have to lose two straight games in order to drop out of first place.
This would not come to pass, as Tharptown downed Hackleburg 4-2 in the tourney finals, rendering another “as needed” game unnecessary to determine a victor.
Pitcher Shelby Palmer got things started off for the Lady Wildcats with a RBI triple to center field that brought in Kaylee Bain in the bottom of the first.
In the bottom of the second Rachel Love hit a sacrifice ground ball for a RBI that brought in Haley Malone. Klaudia Harris followed up with a bloop single over second base that brought in Love.
This put Tharptown up 3-0, but the Lady Panthers would not be shut out in this one.
A wild throw to third and a wild pitch allowed Hackleburg to pick up two runs in the top of the third inning, but that would be all of the offense the team could manage in the tourney finals.
The last run of the contest for Tharptown came on a RBI double by Malone in the bottom of the sixth.
The score would remain the same until the end of the game and the Lady Wildcats picked up the two-run win. It was not the blowout victory that Tharptown was used to in the tournament, but a win is a win.
“I had a feeling the last game would be close,” Sellers said. “Hackleburg has a good pitcher.
“We were hitting the ball, but we were hitting it right at them because we were trying to pull the ball. We struggled in that one.”
Now that the team has yet another berth in the regionals, Coach Sellers must set about preparing the team for the level of competition to be faced in T-Town.
“We are not content just making it to the regionals anymore,” she said. “We want to be competitive there.
“We have to work on the little things like our baserunning and our pitch counts. We struggle sometimes when we get behind in the count.
“We need to work on our hitting and bunting, situational stuff like that.”
The regional tournaments across the state will begin this Friday and will run through Saturday.