Danville’s season ends 1-2 in state softball tourney
By Brooke Milam
MONTGOMERY — It was a huddle of mixed emotions as Danville High’s softball team gathered for the last time this season, following a 10-2 loss to Leeds on Saturday in the Class 3A state softball tournament at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park.
With plenty of young talent still a little wide-eyed, it was easy to pick out the four seniors, who had their heads buried as the coaches addressed the team and were later the first to receive hugs from family and friends waiting.
Seniors Bethany Evans, Kassie Cowart, Kristen Sparkman and Whitney Haggamaker were the ones who took the loss the hardest.
Danville dressed out 23 players, including several eighth-graders, to fill its dugout for the largest player contingent of any team at the tournament.
“We thought it was good for our program for these young kids to come down here and see what it was like,” Danville coach Holly Little said.
“It’s exciting to be here, and it’s a great atmosphere. We wanted them to experience that.”
Younger players said their mission at the tournament was to make a happy ending for the Lady Hawks’ four seniors. And even though there were tears at the end, Danville put the season’s accomplishments in perspective.
“That’s what we wanted: to get to this point and help (the seniors) get here,” sophomore Nicole Linderman said.
“Coming down here — it was a good way to end their season.”
It was the third trip to the state tournament in four years for the Lady Hawks. Danville went 1-2 in this year’s tournament after taking two losses last season.
“We got one game farther than we did last year,” junior Mallory George said.
“That’s an accomplishment to us, and we’re proud to be here.”
Junior Brittany Atkins added: “I think it has set the bar higher. We weren’t just satisfied to come down here. We wanted to come down here and win.”
It goes to show the kind of steady leadership the Lady Hawks will have next year, as Atkins and George are the squad’s only two juniors and will provide senior experience next season.
Against Leeds, George had a single and an RBI, while Atkins had a single and scored a run.
Sarah Terry was 2-for-3 with a pair of singles. Cowart had a single and scored a run for the Lady Hawks. Haggamaker had a single, and Evans had an RBI.
“Leeds was one of the better teams here, but we just didn’t show up for the game today,” Atkins said. “It just didn’t go our way.”
Danville totaled nine errors against Leeds and the Lady Hawks hits seemed never to come at the right time.
“Momentum kept going their way,” Little said.
“Errors killed us and we didn’t put our hits together.”
Leeds 1-0 lead in the first inning swelled to 5-0 in the fourth.
The Green Wave tacked on three runs in the top of the fifth for an 8-0 lead, before Danville posted two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Atkins and Sarah Terry put up back-to-back singles to lead off the fifth for the Lady Hawks.
Cowart then loaded the bases with a flawless bunt to the third base side of the infield before Evans drove in Megan Doherty, who was pinch running for Atkins, for Danville’s first run.
Cowart later scored on an RBI by George, pulling the Lady Hawks within 8-2.
Leeds tacked on a run in the sixth and its final run in the seventh.
How they fared
Six area high schools girls’ fastpitch softball teams advanced to the Alabama High School Athletic Association state championships at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park last week. Here are how the teams fared.
Lawrence County: lost to Alabama Christian 7-3; defeated Central-Florence 5-0; lost to Elmore County 5-3.
Danville: defeated West Blocton 7-2; lost to Mobile Christian 13-2; lost to Leeds 10-2.
Addison: lost to Samson 10-2; defeated American Christian 7-2; lost to Ider 8-1.
Athens Bible: defeated South Lamar 9-0; lost to Kinston 4-0; lost to Pleasant Home 4-3.
Mount Hope: defeated Hubbertville 7-0; defeated Speake 2-1; lost to Kinston 5-1; lost to Pleasant Home 11-3.
Speake: defeated Pleasant Home 7-2; lost to Mount Hope 2-1; defeated Waterloo 4-0; lost to Pleasant Home 1-0.
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