Chelsea earns weekend wins against Vestavia Hills, Calera

Published 4:53 pm Sunday, March 19, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

CALERA – Their first season in Class 7A has featured a rollercoaster of a first 17 games, but the Chelsea Hornets hit a recent stride that has led to a three-game winning streak.

Following a 10-0 shutout against rival Helena on Thursday, March 16, the Hornets carried confidence into Saturday, March 18, leading to a thrilling win over No. 6 Vestavia Hills and a four-run win against Calera to improve to 9-8 on the season.

In the opening game of the doubleheader on Saturday, Chelsea and Vestavia battled back and forth in a thrilling matchup that saw the Hornets strike first with four runs in the top of the first.

They then added to that in the top of the third with one run to make it 5-0, but the Rebels responded with a big five-run inning in the bottom half of the third to quickly erase the deficit and even the score.

Thus, back-and-forth battle to the finish began.

Chelsea regained the lead in the top of the fourth, but Vestavia took its first lead in the bottom of the fourth with two more runs to make it 7-6.

But a steady effort for the Hornets paid off in the fifth and sixth innings. Chelsea, having scored one run each in the third and fourth, scored one in the fifth and one in the sixth to take an 8-7 lead.

The one in the sixth came on an RBI single from Walker Thomas and it became the game-winning hit as Cody Fortenberry scored the game-winning run after a single earlier in the inning.

Vestavia went on to load the bases in the bottom of the sixth, but the Rebels never could capitalize, while they then went down in order in the bottom of the seventh, as Chelsea preserved the one-run win.

Logan Moller got the start for Chelsea and went three innings, allowing six runs on seven hits with one strikeout. Brandon Ridderhoff pitched the final four innings of the game and was nearly perfect in that span with just one walk the only blemish, while he struck out five in a dominant outing.

At the plate, Thomas and Kaleb Hester finished with three hits and one RBI each, while Fortenberry added two hits and an RBI. Aiden Hughes added a hit and an RBI, while Paxton Stallings had one RBI. Chris McNeill, Jason Neal, Jackson Morgan and Bryson Morman all finished with one hit.

Against Calera in the second game of the doubleheader, the two teams matched each other in the opening inning with one run each, but it was all Chelsea from there.

The Hornets broke the tie with four runs in the bottom of the third, which became enough as neither team scored over the final four innings of the game.

Steven Shelton was big in the win for Chelsea, picking up a complete-game victory and allowing just one run on three hits with eight strikeouts.

Fortenberry led the way at the plate with two hits, including a double, and two RBIs. Thomas had the team’s only other hit in the win.