Long day ends short stay for Lady Red Devils
Lawrence County plays 3 games in Class 4A state tournament
By Brooke Milam
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MONTGOMERY — The Lawrence County High softball season ended where the team wanted — at the state tournament in Montgomery. But it didn't end when the Lady Red Devils wanted.
A long day of play Thursday began at 9 a.m. for the Lawrence County, continued through a hot Montgomery afternoon, and ended under the lights at Lagoon Park. And when the day was done, the Lady Red Devils had a win and two losses, ending their run in the double-elimination event.
After falling to Alabama Christian Academy 7-3 Thursday morning, the Lady Red Devils bounced back for a 5-0 win over Central-Florence before a 5-3 season-ending loss to Elmore County.
"Every team but one ends their season with a loss and there were four or five teams ranked above us that expected to come down here and win this thing, but that didn't matter to this bunch," Lawrence County coach Don Smith said.
"They did belong here. This bunch will play with anybody, any time. They were not intimidated."
Thursday marked Lawrence County's first trip to the state tournament since the fast-pitch format was adopted 11 years ago. The squad finished 49-17, which set a school record for wins.
Alabama Christian, Elmore County, St. James and Dadeville remain alive in the Class 4A bracket.
Alabama Christian Academy 7, Lawrence County 3: The Lady Red Devils fell to last year's Class 3A state champions in the opening round of the tournament.
ACA won that crown before moving up in classification this year.
Lawrence County held a 2-0 lead in the first inning after Nichole Jackson and Sallie Beth Burch both scored.
ACA went ahead 3-2 in the top of the third, but the Lady Red Devils tied the game at 3, when Jackson scored her second run of the day in the bottom of the third.
The Lady Eagles mounted a comeback in the fifth, posting four runs for the win.
Ashley House hit her second homer of the day that, paired with an error, scored two runs to put ACA up 6-3. House also knocked a solo home run in the second inning for the Lady Eagles' first run.
Kaylyn Smith struck out five, pitching the complete game for Lawrence County.
Burch was 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and scored a run. Summer Wilkerson, Jackson, Kassie Terry and Morgan Smith each had a single, and Jackson scored two runs. Whitney Hood and Ashley Pitt each delivered a double for the Lady Red Devils.
Lawrence County 5, Central-Florence 0: After dropping the first contest, the Lady Red Devils regrouped for a win to preserve their season.
"We've had character all year to overcome stuff like that," Don Smith said. "It wasn't a whole lot of what I said after the first loss. We just wanted to come back and win one and try to get on a roll."
Wilkerson, Jackson and Hood each scored a run for Lawrence County in the first inning and the Lady Red Devils never lost control.
Hood's single scored Wilkerson and Jackson in the fourth to put Lawrence County up 5-0. The Lady Red Devils left the bases loaded in the inning, but had already done enough damage for the win.
Wilkerson got the win, striking out two in the shutout.
Wilkerson led Lawrence County at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double and two singles, and scored a pair of runs. Jackson and Hood each went 2-for-4 with two singles apiece. Jackson put up two runs, while Hood scored one.
Pitt, Terry, Shae Lane and Morgan Smith each contributed a single.
Elmore County 5, Lawrence County 3: Like Don Smith wanted, the Lady Red Devils got on a roll to open their third game.
Lawrence County's Wilkerson and Hood scored in the top of the first inning for a 2-0 lead. Elmore County scored in the bottom of the first to pull within 2-1.
Wilkerson drove in Carlie Borden in the second inning, tacking on another run for a 3-1 advantage.
Elmore County tied the game at 3 in the fifth on a two-run double by Breyonia DeJarnett, who was driven in by Hannah Taunton for the go-ahead run. The Lady Panthers led 4-3.
Taunton later scored to account for the final margin.
Lawrence County left two on base in the seventh, including stranding the tying run on second.
Kaylyn Smith struck out three in 5 1/3 innings for Lawrence County before being relived by Wilkerson, who struck out four in the final 1 2/3 innings.
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