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Lady Golden Tigers win Area tourney

The Russellville Golden Tigers hosted the softball area tournament for the first time and came away with the championship to advance in the Class 5A postseason.

Leaving no doubt about which school was the top team in Area 15 in 2019, the Lady Golden Tigers took the area tournament by first defeating Lawrence County by a 10-0 score and following that up April 30 with a 13-0 win over Hamilton.

So far this season, Russellville has outscored area opponents by a 61-6 run total and has gone undefeated against those squads on the way to a 6-0 record, including three shutouts.

“The girls came out, and they knew they had history to make, and they knew that they had a job to do,” said Russellville head coach Kathryn Montgomery. “They have done a good job all season of putting one foot in front of the other no matter what faced them. They’ve gotten themselves into a very good position for the rest of the season.”

Two key leaders on this year’s team have been seniors Megan Warhurst and Karlie Moore. “We’ve overcome a lot of things this past week, and I think that we’re going to go really far in regionals,” Warhurst said. Moore changed positions this season to be the team’s catcher. “We’ve all worked so hard for (the area title), and we deserve this,” Moore said. “It’s crazy for me, from being a seventh grader up until now, all the change that’s happened with all of us girls. We’ve just been sisters the whole time, and it’s just been a great ride.”

Against Lawrence County, the Lady Golden Tigers needed only five innings to take care of the Lady Red Devils. Warhurst pitched and allowed one hit while striking out five batters and walking one.

With Area 15 being made up of three teams this year, and the top two schools in each area advancing to regional play, the win clinched a spot for Russellville.

Two home runs in an eight-run first inning for RHS gave the big home crowd something to cheer about early on. Already leading 2-0, Makala O’Neal came up with the bases loaded, and she cleared the fence with a grand slam. Madison Murray followed later in the inning with a two-run homer, and RHS cruised to victory.

Jenna Whitfield and Alexis Taylor had two hits in the win. Alivia Clemmons, Autumn Logan, Warhurst and Chalea Clemmons also hit safely for Russellville. Warhurst had two RBIs, while Chalea Clemmons and Logan had one each.

Fallin Cox helped out by scoring a run, and Taylor added a stolen base.

In the area championship game against Hamilton, Russellville outhit the Lady Aggies by a 16-1 total. RHS scored at least one run in each of the game’s five innings. Murray had a big game at the plate by going 4-for-4 including two doubles, five RBIs, three runs scored and two stolen bases. RHS swiped seven bases and was caught stealing only once.

Nine Russellville batters had hits, with Autumn Logan, Chalea Clemmons, Moore and Taylor finishing with two each. Meanwhile, Lauren Rogers, Alivia Clemmons, Kailee Simpson and O’Neal had one hit apiece. Chalea Clemmons, Logan, Taylor and Simpson had doubles, while Warhust had an RBI and Whitfield scored a run.

Russellville (20-16-1) got four innings of no-hit pitching by Warhurst to start the game. She struck out three and walked one HHS batter. Krista Sikes pitched the game’s final inning; she struck out a batter and walked none.

RHS will now move to North Region play at Coffee O’Neal Park in Florence. The first Russellville game will be against Brewer, and RHS will need to place first or second in the tournament to advance to state, which will be held in Montgomery.