Spain Park goes 6-1 at spring break tournament

Published 3:16 pm Monday, April 3, 2023

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

GULF SHORES – The Spain Park Jaguars seem to be hitting their stride near the final leg of the season, and that was no more evident than with the effort they put forth at this year’s Gulf Coast Classic March 27-29.

The Jags extended a win streak to eight games during the tournament, winning all four of their pool play games before winning their first two elimination games to advance to the semifinals.

Spain Park ultimately fell 6-4 to Springville in the semis to fall a game short of the championship, but by the end of the tournament, the Jags had improved to 23-6 on the season.

Spain Park’s wins included John Carroll, Alexandria, Dale County, Dothan, Enterprise and Gardendale.

On Monday, March 27, the Jags opened with a 3-1 win against John Carroll to kick start the tournament.

After falling into a 1-0 hole, Spain Park bounced back with two in the second and one in the third to notch the two-run victory in four innings.

Klara Thompson led the team with one hit and one RBI, while Reagan Stewart totaled two RBIs. Beyond those two, Charlee Bennett and Ella Ussery each finished with one hit.

Ussery also got the win in the circle, striking out seven and giving up one unearned run on three walks and two hits in the complete-game effort.

The second game was also a low-scoring battle, but the Jags scored all five of their runs in the top of the first to take a 5-0 lead and held on from there. Alexandria scored two in the home half but never crossed the plate again in what became a quiet next four innings to finish off the 5-2 game.

A grand slam from Bennett was the ultimate difference maker, leading to four of the five runs from Spain Park. Bennett finished with that lone hit and four RBIs to lead the Jags, while Margaret Daniel, Thompson, Stewart and Kenley Holmes all had one hit.

Ella Reed got the win in the circle, striking out nine and giving up just one hit and no runs over 4 2/3 innings of work in relief of Holmes.

The impressive trek continued against Dale County for the Jags, as they overcame an early 1-0 deficit with six combined runs between the second and third innings to put away a 6-1 victory.

Reed led the team with three RBIs thanks to a three-run home run, while Katie Flannery finished with one hit and two RBIs. Daniel led the team with two hits in a 2-for-2 effort.

Ussery, Reed and Holmes all combined to allow four hits and one run with six total strikeouts in the 6-1 victory. Ussery gave up four hits and one unearned run in two innings to earn the win.

That led into back-to-back shutouts for Spain Park, starting with a 6-0 effort against Dothan.

The Jaguars scored at least one run in each inning of the win, while Ussery and Stewart combined for a strong outing in the circle. Ussery struck out two and allowed one hit and two walks in four innings, while Stewart finished the final inning with a 1-2-3 inning.

Flannery finished 2-for-2 at the plate with two RBIs and two runs scored, while Caroline Charles totaled two hits and an RBI. Daniel and Blakley Watts each finished with one hit and an RBI in the win.

Spain Park then picked up second shutout in a row against Enterprise, using another strong effort from Reed. She got the complete-game shutout by striking out 11 and giving up just four hits in a 4-0 victory.

Flannery put together a 3-for-3 game at the plate, while Thompson finished with two hits and two RBIs. Bennett and Jaley Young added one hit and one RBI each.

Spain Park then punched a ticket to the semifinals with a thrilling win against Gardendale. The Jags scored two runs in the opening inning and held on for a one-run win after Gardendale scored one in the bottom of the fifth. The Rockets left one on base in both the fifth and sixth inning.

Ussery got another impressive win with a 10-strikeout performance that featured one hit and five walks with the lone run given up.

Daniel was the leader at the plate, driving home both runs for Spain Park on two hits, while Flannery finished with a double and scored one run. Charles scored the other run after finishing with one hit.