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WEDNESDAY, MAY 16, 2007
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Danville softball player Kirby Wallace chases a pop up during practice drills Tuesday afternoon. The Lady Hawks (27-21) will play West Blocton (26-7) at noon on Friday in the eight-team, double-elimination Class 3A state championship tournament at Lagoon Park in Montgomery.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Danville softball player Kirby Wallace chases a pop up during practice drills Tuesday afternoon. The Lady Hawks (27-21) will play West Blocton (26-7) at noon on Friday in the eight-team, double-elimination Class 3A state championship tournament at Lagoon Park in Montgomery.

Wanting more
Danville hopes to improve on
past state performances

By Mark Edwards
medwards@decaturdaily.com · 340-2461

DANVILLE — After a recent practice, Danville High's softball players had a team meeting.

Oh, this wasn't a formal one, and it wasn't about softball. Instead, all the players loaded into cars and headed out for dinner.

"Mexican food," senior Kristen Sparkman said with a smile. "Mexican food is Danville food."

Four of the team's seniors — Sparkman, Kassie Cowart, Whitney Haggamaker and Bethany Evans — said that having everyone go to dinner together isn't unusual. They added that this group spends time around each other on the field, in school and out of school.

"We're really close," Haggamaker said, "and we have a bond."

The Lady Hawks are hoping that this bond and the closeness of the group can help them accomplish something that no team from this small-school powerhouse softball program has done — win the state tournament.

Danville (27-21) has advanced to the Class 3A state softball tournament for the third time in four years.

The Lady Hawks will open the eight-team, double-elimination event Friday at noon against West Blocton (26-7), which has advanced for the third time in four years, too.

Montgomery's Lagoon Park will host the tournament.

Danville made it this far for the first time in 2004 and finished tied for fifth. Then in 2006, the Lady Hawks lost their opener to Alabama Christian 4-0 and then fell to Leeds 9-4. That put Danville in a tie for seventh place in the final order.

Now, Danville wants more than that.

"In the past, we were happy just to be going to the state tournament," Haggamaker said.

Cowart completed the thought by adding, "Now we want to do some damage."

Cowart, Haggamaker, Sparkman and Evans have provided a solid core for the 2007 team. Sparkman, the starting third baseman, has played on the varsity since seventh grade. Evans, the catcher, joined the varsity in eighth grade, and Haggamaker and Cowart have played since ninth grade.

Haggamaker plays left field, and Cowart is the shortstop — and the four noted that this gives Danville an experience-heavy left side of the defense.

"We've talked to the younger players about not being intimidated by being at the state tournament," Evans said.

However, regardless of how Danville does in Montgomery, the Lady Hawks take plenty of pride in advancing this far.

They've noticed that they're the only Morgan County softball team still playing. Also, they have noticed that while plenty of larger programs are done for the year, they're still around, as are their friends at 1A Speake and 2A Addison.

"We're proud of that," Evans said.

Added Sparkman: "The power is with the small schools."

Then Haggamaker added, "We're the ones stepping up."

Now, all they want to do is win — and maybe a good meal of Mexican food.

"We're not happy with just going to the state tournament anymore," Evans said.

Danville’s five-year run

How the Lady Hawks’ softball team has fared in postseason the past five years:

  • 2003: Lost in second round of sub-state.

  • 2004: Finished tied for fifth at the Class 3A state tournament.

  • 2005: Lost in second round of sub-state.

  • 2006: Finished tied for seventh at the 3A state tournament.

  • 2007: Advanced to state tournament. Will open against West Blocton on Friday at noon.

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