Oak Mountain hits walk-off homer, wins area with coin toss
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
NORTH SHELBY – It was the same book for the Oak Mountain/Spain Park softball rivalry on Tuesday night, April 17, at Oak Mountain High School, but a new chapter to the book was written.
While the third chapter of the 2018 softball season looked similar to the first two, it was stellar nonetheless.
After both pitchers, Annabelle Widra for Spain Park and Lacey Marty for Oak Mountain, had stellar games, it came down to one at bat in the home half of the seventh inning.
Tied 0-0 due to the impressive pitching, Torie Denkers led off the bottom of the seventh looking to play the role of hero.
After watching a strike for the first pitch, Denkers got a feel for exactly what she wanted and what was coming next. She guessed right and laced the second pitch of the at bat over the left-field wall for a walk-off home run that sent the Eagles into a frantic celebration.
Coming into the game, Spain Park (29-6) held the upper hand in the area having beaten Oak Mountain (22-11) 3-2 just two weeks earlier. A win for the Jaguars meant the regular-season area title, which would have allowed them to host the area tournament.
Instead the loss forced a coin toss that both coaches agreed to after the completion of the game. Once the toss was concluded, Oak Mountain hadn’t just won a thrilling game, but also won the right to host the area tournament during the first week of May.
And if that wasn’t reason enough for the Eagles to erupt in celebration, head coach Kaitlin Griffin also picked up her 100th career victory to complete a trifecta for the night.
In the grand scheme of things it’s not a huge difference as both teams will play either Huffman or Mountain Brook, who they have had no difficulty with so far this season, meaning there will most likely be an Oak Mountain/Spain Park chapter four. After three one-run games this season, that would please the fans.
Oak Mountain showed signs early against the Jags during the big game. In the bottom of the second, the Eagles were lead the inning off with back-to-back singles to put two base runners on quickly.
Those hits, however, were followed by three consecutive outs from Widra and the Spain Park defense to get out of the jam.
After another 1-2-3 inning defensively, the Eagles got another great chance in the bottom of the third thanks to the first two batters reaching base again.
Widra, however, settled in again and didn’t allow any damage thanks to back-to-back fly outs and a groundout to keep the game tied 0-0.
Both teams went 1-2-3 in the fourth inning before the Jags finally got their best chance of the game in the top of the fifth.
After a groundout to start the inning, Caroline Wooley doubled to right field to give the Jags some life. That was followed by a single from Alexis Anderson, but the ball didn’t leave the infield which forced Wooley to only advance one base to third.
That was big because Wooley was then called out for offensive interference shortly after. That was followed by a pop out to shortstop to quickly end the threatening inning.
Spain Park got another chance in the top of the seventh when Bailey Bowers led off with a double to left field. Two batters later, Kate Cambpell was able to move her over to third after a single of her own put runners on the corners.
However, like Widra had done throughout the game, Marty was able to get out of the inning with two consecutive fly outs to strand both base runners.
The next person to step to the plate was Denkers in the bottom of the seventh, who abruptly ended the game in two pitches.
Oak Mountain got hits from Maddie Katona, Abbi Brown, M’Kiyah Mitchell, Bryson Campbell and Denkers, while Jenna Galloway added the game’s only walk.
Marty got the complete-game victory allowing four hits and no runs while striking out two.
The Jaguars got hits from Bowers, Campbell, Wooley and Anderson. Bowers and Wooley had the game’s only two doubles.
Widra had a stellar night despite the home run given up. She kept her team in the game by allowing just five hits and one walk and striking out three batters.
Photos available at Shelbycountyphotos.com