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Tharptown falls to Parrish, Berry at regionals


TUSCALOOSA — The Tharptown Lady Wildcats made it deeper into the postseason than any other softball or baseball team in Franklin County this spring.

Red Bay also made it to the regional tournament, but it was Tharptown that was the last local school still playing in the hopes of continuing its postseason run.

Day one saw a win against Southeastern but then a loss to Parrish, an ASWA top 10 team and strong opponent.

The Lady Wildcats came back on day two at the North Central Regional Tournament in Tuscaloosa ready for more, and the first team they faced was Appalachian.

The Lady Wildcats felt like they were in familiar territory, as their opponent wore a uniform oddly similar to that of rival Belgreen.

Tharptown put its first run of the game on the board when Kaitlyn Vandiver scored from third on a wild throw.

Rachel Love allowed another run for Tharptown when she drew a walk with the bases loaded in the top of the second.

An RBI double and a two-RBI double later the Lady Wildcats found themselves with a 5-0 advantage over Appalachian.

The a lull fell over Tharptown over the next couple of innings.

Whether it was from the strain of the tournament, complacency, or some other factor, Appalachian came back in a hurry.

The Lady Eagles scored three unanswered runs to cut Tharptown’s lead to 5-3, and things looked pretty grim for the Lady Wildcats.

Then, much like many other games before it, Tharptown came to life late in the game.

Autumn Sutter stole home plate on a wild pitch in the top of the sixth,. This started a massive two innings for Tharptown and would lead to Appalachian’s defeat.

Jessica Wilson, a courtesy runner for pitcher Shelby Palmer, stole home on a wild throw followed by Vandiver doing the same.

Another run scored on a wild pitch before Klaudia Harris was brought in on a sac fly for a RBI by Vandiver.

Palmer hit a two-RBI double to left center that produced the game’s final runs.

The Lady Wildcats had come back for a 12-3 win.

Around three hours later Tharptown was back on the diamond, this time facing Berry, one of only two 1A opponents to defeat the Lady Wildcats during the regular season.

Berry was yet another team of the five total 1As at Tuscaloosa ranked in the top 10 in the ASWA poll.

Berry started strong with two runs in the top of the first, but Tharptown answered in the bottom of the third with a two-RBI triple by Vandiver, a sac fly for a RBI by Palmer and a RBI double by Haley Malone.

After a brief lull Berry came up to bat in the top of the fifth, and that was when things decided to not go Tharptown’s way.

A brief 10-minute rain shower hit, and during that time Berry scored three runs to go up 5-4.

Berry scored another run in the top of the seventh, and the Lady Wildcats were unable to answer.

The 6-4 defeat ended yet another solid season for Tharptown, albeit in a manner the players and coached did not expect nor want.

“We had a successful season overall,” head coach Susie Sellers said. “We had our first season with 30 wins, which was good. We became ranked.

“We had a good season; it just didn’t end like we wanted it to. I’m still proud of them.”

Senior Kassy Baker will depart from the team after graduation, but the Lady Wildcats will return every other player to the field next year.

“It will be a huge advantage,” Sellers said. “These girls play together all the time. A lot of them play travel ball and they play against each other. It’s huge.

“They know what we’re thinking and what we want them to do. They know what to expect out of each other.

“My sophomores still have two more years left. We’re going to get better every year.”