Thompson beats Vestavia to advance to regionals, finishes runner-up in area tourney

Published 8:18 pm Wednesday, May 3, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

HOOVER – It came with its share of heart-pounding moments, but the defending state champion Thompson Warriors are headed back to the postseason after downing Vestavia Hills twice during this year’s Class 7A, Area 5 tournament.

The Warriors opened the tournament with an 11-1 win over the Rebels on May 2, but the important win came a day later.

After losing to Tuscaloosa County in their second game of the tournament, the Warriors were forced into another game with Vestavia on Wednesday, May 3, this time, with the season and a spot in regionals on the line.

In a game that was tied 3-3 through the top of the sixth, Thompson put together its most clutch inning of the season so far, scoring four runs in the bottom of the sixth to ultimately make the difference in a 7-4 victory.

The Warriors went on to lose a second game to Tuscaloosa County for the area tournament championship, but finishing as one of the top two teams, they had earned a spot at the regional tournament.

In the decisive game against the Rebels, Thompson was forced to play from behind early after Vestavia took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first.

The deficit grew even bigger in the top of the fourth when an error allowed a third run to score for the Rebels and put Thompson in a 3-0 hole on the brink of elimination.

Kendall Channell, however, had different plans.

Following a lead-off double in the bottom of the fourth from Chalea Clemmons and a walk from Laney Williams, Channell stepped to the plate and wasted no time tying the game by taking the first pitch she saw over the wall in right field for a three-run bomb.

That evened the score at 3-3, but more importantly, it shifted momentum.

Both teams threatened, but neither scored in the fifth inning, while the Rebels left two on base in the top of the sixth.

That set the stage for a game-changing bottom of the sixth for the Warriors.

A one-out double from Aubree Hooks kickstarted things, while a Savanna Burnett single drove home the go-ahead run.

A second out was then recorded, but the Warriors still weren’t done. A Neely Davis RBI single brought home another run, while Dailynn Motes followed with another home run for the Warriors, this one an inside-the-park home run that gave Thompson a 7-4 lead through six innings.

Vestavia did score one run in the top of the seventh and threatened for more, but Thompson ultimately got out of a one-out bases-loaded jam to hold on for the thrilling win.

Channell finished the game 2-for-4 with three RBIs, while Burnett added two hits and one RBI. Motes finished with the two RBIs on her big sixth-inning hit, while Davis added one hit and one RBI in the must-win game. Clemmons, Williams, Hooks and Kadyn Bush all totaled one hit.

In the circle, Clemmons earned the win, finishing off the final two innings and striking out five, while allowing one run on four walks and two hits. Hooks got the start and struck out four in 4 2/3 innings of work, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks.