Spain Park softball advances to state tourney
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
MONTEVALLO – Starting the week in a college softball stadium and finishing it in Lagoon Park in Montgomery, that’s the opportunity ahead for the Spain park Jaguars after winning the West Central Softball Regional tournament on Monday, May 13, to advance to the state tournament.
The Jags met the Thompson Warriors in a Regional Championship game at the University of Montevallo Softball Stadium at Orr Park, and continued to look like a team heading toward a championship thanks to a 12-2 victory in six innings to improve to 40-6.
The move to Montevallo came after torrential rain postponed play early in the tournament, which was originally scheduled to conclude at Bowers Park in Tuscaloosa.
But all four teams came together and tried to find a suitable venue to step up and allow them to finish the tournament on Monday in much better conditions on a championship-level field.
That’s exactly what the University of Montevallo did, and it led to an environment fit to hold a championship game, and the Jags flourished in it.
Spain Park outhit Thompson 14-5 and scored eight runs in the first two innings to jump out to an 8-0 lead, which was more than enough for Annabelle Widra in the circle.
Widra’s dominance in the circle featured 11 total strikeouts in a complete-game effort, while giving up five hits and two runs—only one of which was earned.
Spain Park’s bats were alive throughout the day as well, but the scoring started in the bottom of the first thanks to patience at the plate and smart baserunning.
After Widra and Taylor Harrington led off the inning with walks, Harrington was eventually thrown out at first, but Maddie Majors reached on an error.
The errors continued after that for Thompson, as Widra came in to score on an error by the catcher, while Majors came in on a wild pitch during the next at bat.
All of those mistakes for the Warriors left them down 2-0 after one inning of play, which is already a difficult hole to dig out of against Spain Park.
After a quick inning defensively, the Jags came back to the plate and showed even more poise.
This time around, they got the bats going.
The inning started with a single from Lydia Coleman and a walk from Lindsay Parker to put two aboard with no outs. That was followed by back-to-back RBI singles from Caroline Wooley and Caroline Kendrick to quickly tack on two more runs to the lead.
After an out was recorded, Harrington came through with a big hit on a triple to center field, which brought home another run after Kendrick had scored during the at bat on a passed ball.
A sac fly from Majors quickly made it 7-0, before Bailey Bowers doubled to left field to drive home the final run of the inning for an 8-0 advantage through two innings of play.
Thompson added its first run of the game in the top of the third on an error from the Jags, but that’s all of the damage the Warriors could do in the frame.
Spain Park took a break from scoring in the third, but got right back to it in the fourth with an RBI ground out from Coleman and an RBI single from Wooley to make the score 10-1.
After a quiet fifth inning, Thompson added its second run of the game in the top of the sixth, but Spain Park answered immediately in the bottom half with two more on an RBI double from Parker and an RBI single from Widra to close out the 12-2 victory.
At the plate, Spain Park was led by Wooley, who went 2-for-2 with two RBIs. Bowers, Widra and Coleman all added two hits with an RBI apiece. Harrington added one hit with two RBIs, while Majors, Parker and Kendrick all had one hit and one RBI apiece.
Thompson was led by Madison Plunkett with a 2-for-3 game, while Lauren Haskins, Lauren Cabiness and Taylor Cordova all had one hit apiece.
For the Warriors, they went on to lose to Hewitt-Trussville in a win-or-go-home game later that afternoon to see an incredible season come to an end at 38-5-1.
The Jags, however, punched their ticket to state and picked up their 40th win of the season.
Heartbreak has been no stranger to Spain Park in the state tournament, coming close to the title on several occasions, including two straight losses in the championship series last year.
This year, however, they seem more poised than ever to lift the Blue Map come Friday night, but it all comes down to how they handle the situation as a team.
Spain Park will kick off the tournament on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. against Baker. The 7A tourney will come to an end Friday night.