Thompson claims area championship, now 37-3-1 heading to postseason
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
ALABASTER – More chapters continue to be written to a historic season for the Thompson Warriors’ softball team after the team not only finished the regular season unbeaten in area play, but has now swept through the area tournament with three consecutive victories to claim the Class 7A Area 5 tournament championship.
The Warriors started the tournament with wins of 7-3 over Hoover and 11-1 over Tuscaloosa County to qualify for Regionals, before coming back a day later on Wednesday, May 1, to take on the Oak Mountain Eagles for the area tournament title.
With both teams having claimed a spot in regionals as the top two teams in the area, the matchup was for the pure pride of claiming the area tournament.
But for the Thompson, it was even more than that, as the team looked to finish off nine matchups with area opponents without a single loss. And just as they had done all season, the Warriors dominated.
Thompson outhit the Eagles 11-3 in the game and scored five runs in the first two innings before adding three more insurance runs in the sixth, while only giving up one in the fourth to pick up an 8-1 victory.
With the win, the Warriors finished off area play between both the regular season and are a tournament a perfect 9-0. Through those nine games, Thompson outscored Hoover, Oak Mountain and Tuscaloosa County by a combined 81-32.
Looking to close out the area championship on Wednesday night, the Thompson used that confidence from the regular season and the two dominant victories in the first two rounds to help early in the matchup with Oak Mountain.
In the bottom of the first, that helped, as the Warriors struck first on an RBI single from Mikayla Touhey, driving home Kindall DeRamus who walked to lead off the inning.
That was just a warmup inning, however, as Thompson truly made its statement in the second inning.
A leadoff triple from Makenzie Munroe was just the start to a damaging inning at the plate. She was quickly driven on a sacrifice fly from Ella Pate to put the Warriors on top 2-0.
Then, following a second out in the inning, Thompson put together a two-out rally thanks to two home runs in the next three at bats. The first came on a blast off the bat of Daelynn Motes, who bombed it over the center-field wall. After DeRamus walked to put a runner on following that home run, Lauren Haskins stepped to the plate and rocketed one of her own over the center-field wall driving home DeRamus as well for a 5-0 Thompson lead.
Oak Mountain, who had already won two games during the day to stave off elimination and earn a spot in the game, was battling fatigue and a rested Thompson team that hadn’t played at all during the day.
That seemed to play a factor, as the Eagles struggled to put together long innings, but in the top of the fourth, they did get a solo home run from Hannah Atwood to draw within four runs at 5-1.
That, however, ended up being Oak Mountain’s only run of the game, and in the bottom of the sixth, the Warriors put the game away with two sac flies from Grace Robertson and Touhey, as well as another home run, this time from Madison Plunkett, to put away the 8-1 win.
At the plate, Thompson was led by Haskins with a 2-for-4 game featuring two RBIs and two runs scored. Touhey added two RBIs with one hit, while Robertson, Plunkett and Motes added one hit and one RBI apiece.
Madison Holtzapfel and Eleanor DeBlock continued a strong tournament in the circle. Holtzapfel pitched the first three innings allowing two hits and one run with two strikeouts, while DeBlock pitched the final four innings allowing just one hit and no runs.
Thompson will now head to Bowers Park in Tuscaloosa May 9-11 to compete in regionals where the Warriors will look to clinch a spot in the state tournament the following week.
Photos available at Shelbycountyphotos.com.