Spain Park wins area tournament, headed to Regionals

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor 

HOOVER – Will this be the year for the Spain Park Jaguars’ softball team? After several years of heartbreak at the state tournament, the Jags are now officially back in the postseason after claiming the Class 7A Area 6 tournament championship to cement a spot in Regionals, and this year, they’re hoping all of the misfortune will finally be put to rest.

And right now, this team looks like one that is going to be tough to compete against in the next two weeks after not only sweeping the area tournament with wins of 11-0 against Mountain Brook and wins of 3-0 and 4-1 against Hewitt-Trussville, but having also won 10 consecutive games and posting seven shutouts and nine wins by giving up two runs or less.

To close out the area tournament perfect, the Jags took down Hewitt for the second time in as many days thanks to a dominant effort from Annabelle Widra in the circle and seven hits offensively leading to four runs in a 4-1 victory to claim the championship.

In the first inning, Widra set the tone for Spain Park not only with a 1-2-3 inning in the circle, but also with her solo home run to lead off the game and quickly put Spain Park up 1-0.

The Jags then added to that lead in the top of the fourth. With one out, Alexis Anderson and Bailey Bowers strung together a single and double, respectively, to put runners on second and third.

That was then followed by a single from Lydia Coleman to drive home Anderson and put Spain Park on top 2-0.

Hewitt’s first sign of success came in the bottom of the fourth, and ended up leading to the Huskies’ first and only run of the game. A two-out RBI single allowed Hannah Borden to score and bring Hewitt within a run of the lead heading to the fifth inning.

But in the fifth, the Jaguars were ready for an answer of their own, and this time it was a game changer.

Following back-to-back one-out walks to Widra and Taylor Harrington, Maddie Majors hit a hard ground ball that ended in a two-RBI single driving in both runners for a 4-1 lead.

That ended up being the difference in the game, as Hewitt put two runners aboard in the bottom half of the fifth, but left the runners stranded and never regained the same momentum in a 4-1 loss.

Majors finished the game 1-for-4 with two RBIs, while Coleman and Widra each went 1-for-3 with an RBI apiece. Anderson, Bowers, Caroline Wooley and Kate Campbell each added one hit apiece.

In the first of the two matchups against the Huskies to remain in the winner’s bracket, the Jags used their stellar pitching and a three-run second inning to pull off a 3-0 victory.

Anderson went 3-for-3 at the plate, while Bowers, Wooley and Campbell each had one hit and one RBI.

Widra got the start in the circle and struck out 13 in a complete-game victory.

In the area tournament opener against Mountain Brook, the Jags picked up an easy 11-0 victory and were led by Bowers and Majors at the plate. Each went 2-for-3 in the game with three RBIs. Mackenzie Thompson and Alexis Anderson also batted well thanks to each posting two RBIs in the win.

Campbell got the start in the circle and allowed no hits and no runs with five strikeouts to pick up the win, while Ella Reed pitched the final inning and struck out two.

The Jags will now head into the Regional round of the playoffs, scheduled for May 9-11 at Mary Bowers Park in Tuscaloosa, with an overall record of 38-6 and a heavy favorite to advance to the state tournament.