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Belgreen wins five straight to claim county title

The Belgreen Bulldog girls lost their first game in the Franklin County Tournament Friday afternoon but proceeded to win five straight, including four straight Saturday, to win the 2022 Franklin County Tournament for the second consecutive year.

Belgreen lost to Red Bay Friday afternoon 8-3, sending the Bulldogs to the loser’s bracket to face Tharptown.

Belgreen beat the Wildcats on a run by Noelle Willingham as the timer expired to eliminate Tharptown and advance to Saturday marathon bracket play.

“I am so proud of my girls. After a bad loss to Red Bay in the first game, they came back and were resilient,” said Belgreen coach Susie Tverberg. “They showed up to compete on Saturday.

Showed up – and showed out.

Belgreen eliminated Vina 11-2 early in the day. Then, the Bulldogs eliminated Phi Campbell 14-2 to advance to the championship to face Red Bay again.

Belgreen won the first game 7-4, forcing a second championship game, wherein the Bulldogs proceeded to win 8-2, claiming the title.

Belgreen trailed only once in the fivegame stretch, and that was 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning of the final game. The Bulldogs scored three times in the top of the second and never trailed again.

“We have a lot of talent in Franklin County,” Tverberg added. “So being able to say we are the county champion is a huge accomplishment. We faced great pitching and very good hitters.”

Tverberg praised Tharptown’s Taylor Cameron as “one of the best pitchers we have faced all year,” adding that Cameron as well as and Red Bay’s Chloe Knoblock “threw the ball extremely well, and they are very hard to hit.”

Belgreen had a huge day from sophomore Lily Blackburn in the circle and at the plate.

In the circle, Blackburn allowed 11 hits and struck out 20 in the fivegame stretch, including a no-hitter in the nail biter with Tharptown Friday night. At the plate, Blackburn had eight hits, including four doubles and six RBIs, and scored four runs.

“I knew we were not going to be able to step in the box and slug away,” Tverberg explained. “I felt if we were going to win, we would have to have quality atbats, manufacture base runners and runs and be aggressive on the base paths.

“We went in with a plan to see lots of pitches and small ball so our opponents had to make plays. The girls executed brilliantly.”

Against Vina, Makayla Willingham had two hits, including a double and two RBIs, and scored two runs. Morgan Vandiver had two hits and two RBIs and scored two runs.

Against Phil Campbell, Noelle Willingham had two hits and an RBI and scored three runs. Hannah Borden had three hits, including two doubles, two RBIs and scored two runs. Katie Cooper had three hits, including a double and two RBIs, and scored a run.

In the first championship game against Red Bay, Noelle Willingham and Morgan Vandiver had two RBIs each. Borden had two hits.

In the final game, Makayla Willingham hit a three-run home run, and Vandiver had a two-RBI single.

For Red Bay, Emma McCollister hit three-run home run in the final game.