Thompson wins Gulf Coast Classic, improves to 30-5

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

GULF SHORES – The Thompson Warriors’ softball team traveled down to Gulf Shores on Monday, March 26, with one goal in mind, winning the 2018 Gulf Coast Classic to prove they should be taken seriously as a state championship contender in 2018.

The Warriors did just that.

With 10 consecutive wins between Monday and Wednesday, Thompson was able to bring home the Gulf Coast title after outscoring opponents 73-13 in the tournament.

It’s not just a middle of the road tournament, it’s one of the more prestigious softball tournaments each and every year, and the Warriors left no doubt about who the best team there was during the week.

After losing back-to-back games coming into the tournament to Spain Park and a big area game against Hoover, the Warriors looked like a new team at the beginning of the classic.

They stormed through pool play with wins of 10-2 against Marshall County, 3-2 against Yorkville (IL), 13-3 against Jackson and 10-0 against Grissom.

Thompson then entered the final day of the tournament on Wednesday, March 28, with every game being an elimination game and din’t let up.

The Warriors started the day with a 12-0 win against Hamilton and followed that up with a 4-1 win against Spain Park, who they lost to 5-1 a week earlier, then beat Pleasant Valley 6-0, Hazel Green 6-2 and Huntsville 5-0 before an exciting championship game with Hewitt-Trussville ensued.

Championship game: Thompson 4 – Hewitt-Trussville 3

In what was going to be a four-inning championship game due to the amount of games played in one day, both teams made the most of their few chances in the game, which led to a title game that went down to the final inning.

Trailing 2-1 heading into the top of the fourth, Thompson was able to put together a one-out rally to storm in front.

After Madison Bubel struck out to start the inning, Allie Miller singled followed by a double from Kennedy Foote to put two runners in scoring position with one out.

Having to score in the inning or face a loss in the title game, Madison Plunkett stepped to the plate after Foote’s double. After watching a first-pitch strike and then fouling one off, Plunkett was behind in the count, but not down.

The next pitch she saw was the one she wanted and it turned into a bases-clearing single to right field that brought Miller in for the game-tying run and Foote in for the go-ahead run and a 3-2 lead.

Lauren Cabiness then singled during the next at bat to put runners on first and second with one out still on the board.

Thompson then called for the double steal, which put both Plunkett and Cabiness in scoring position.

While Bailey Whitfield eventually flew out in a play that ended in a double play, Riley Parker’s base running to extend the play allowed Plunkett to score before eventually being tagged out—a run that eventually became key.

That run for the 4-2 lead was so important, because Hewitt-Trussville came to the plate and led off the bottom half of the final inning with an inside the park home run to draw within a run of tying the game.

Thompson picked up the first out after that before allowing a single. After an error allowed the game-tying run to get into scoring position, the Warriors were able to get that lead runner out on a play at third base for the second out of the inning.

Whitfield then forced Hewitt to ground out for the final out to preserve the 4-3 championship win.

Miller led the surge at the plate for Thompson with a 2-for-2 performance including one run scored. Plunkett had two of the Warriors’ four RBIs after a 1-for-2 performance, while Bubel and Whitfield each added one RBI as well.

At the end of the tournament, Thompson had improved to 30-5 overall, but is currently 1-1 in area play with key games against Vestavia Hills, Tuscaloosa County and Hoover still left on the schedule ahead of the area tournament.