Briarwood softball opens state tourney with win
By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Editor
MONTGOMERY — The Briarwood Christian Lions softball squad got their trip to the AHSAA Class 5A state championships off on the right foot, winning the first two state playoff games in school history May 15.
The Lions kicked off their tournament by taking a 2-1 win over Athens High.
The Lions logged both of their runs in the top of the first, when Rachel Walz and Ashlyn Boyd came across to score and put the Lions up 2-0.
Neither team scored again until Athens added a run in the bottom of the second to cut the lead to one. From there it became a pitcher’s duel, as Briarwood’s Morgan Reed took control in the circle. Despite loading the bases twice in the final three innings, Athens never scored again and the Lions took the win.
The second game of the afternoon didn’t go as smoothly for Briarwood, as the Lions fell to the Moody Blue Devils in a defensive struggle, 1-0. The lone score of the contest came when Moody pushed a run across in the top of the fourth.
The loss put the Lions in the loser’s bracket of the tournament, setting them up in a win-or-go-home game against Valley High.
The contest started in similar fashion to the previous two contests, with Briarwood shutting down the opposition defensively, yet struggling to string together scoring opportunities. Things looked even more troublesome when the Rams took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth.
With their backs against the wall, the Lions’ bats came to life. Madison Chambers led the inning off with a single, moving to second on a sacrifice bunt by Amelia Moore. Both Donohue and Natalie Kidd were hit by pitches to load the bases. Co-captain and Notre Dame signee Morgan Reed knocked a single to bring Chambers to tie the game at 1-1.
The teams remained deadlocked until the top of the seventh. Moore started the inning off with a single, and reached third on a bunt by Kidd. With runners on the corners, Reed stepped into the box.
Looking to keep the Lions’ season alive, Reed stepped into a pitch and drilled it, sending it over the right center wall to give Briarwood a 4-1 lead. Walz scored to make it 5-1.
Reed’s pitching shut down the Rams in the bottom of the seventh to take the 5-1 win and keep the Lions’ season alive.
Head coach Suzanne Serrano was quick to comment on how big the wins —especially the one over Valley — were for the program.
“Wow. It was huge blessing and a team win,” she said. “Today was the first time for us to ever win at state. It was huge for us. I’m very proud of Morgan Reed. She has had an unbelievable season, and (the home run) was just perfect for her.”
The Lions now move on to face Curry May 16 at 10:30 a.m. at Lagoon Park Field No. 3 in Montgomery.