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Russellville team wins state

GADSDEN — 2013 has been a good year for Russellville athletics.

Sports teams representing the city have competed in state tournaments in multiple sports, and some have even come back with state titles.

Another state title came back home recently thanks to the efforts of players and coaches from the Russellville 8 and Under All-Stars softball team.

The team won the state ARPA title in Gadsden playing against teams like Guntersville, Boaz, Heflin, Lincoln and Fort Payne.

Winning a state title at any level in any sport is a true accomplishment, but the * and Under girls from Russellville did so in a dominant fashion.

“It was a double elimination tournament, so there were no pool games like we’re used to playing,” said head coach Chad Whitfield.

“We figured it up after the tournament. We won by a total of 61-9 in all of our games total.

We scored 61 points, and our opponents scored nine. The girls played excellent defense, and all 10 players hit the ball well.

It’s probably one of the best tournaments we’ve played all year, and we’ve been playing a lot of softball since March.

In order to make it to the state level, the team had to first compete in an ARPA district tournament. The girls also passed this test with flying colors.

“We won first in it to make it to state. You had to finish in the top four to make it,” Whitfield said.

What made this group of young girls so good at what they do? the answer lies in a word that id very familiar to anyone who plays competitive sports.

“We have had a whole lot of practice,” Whitfield said.

“The girls have played together a lot this year. They have done excellent. We play travel softball, too.

“Last weekend we finished third in an open state tournament in USSSA, which is outstanding.

“For a group of girls just from right there in Russellville, they’ve done really well I think. I think it’s the first time a Russellville softball team has won state since 2002, and it was a 12 and Under team.

“I don’t think anyone from Russellville has won 8 and Under.“

Now that the all-stars have finished the state tournament and won it all, players and coaches can relax a little and bask in their accomplishment.

“It’s like a burden has been lifted.,” Whitfield said.

“This has been Joey [Rushing] and mine’s goal since we started three years ago.

“We’ve set goals since we started, and our main goal was to win ARPA state. We’re so above the teams at this tournament because of our experience.

“There were some good teams in it this year and last year, but we’re so far ahead of everybody right now because we’ve been playing together for so long.

“The girls love to practice. If you see an 8 and Under team where all the girls can slide, hit and play defense like we do, it’s really a big accomplishment I think, especially with just local girls.”