Helena’s Lively, Thompson’s Williams compete in All-Star game

Published 8:00 am Thursday, July 20, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

MONTGOMERY – Excitement was in the air at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park Softball complex on Wednesday, June 19, as some of the state’s top softball talent took to the field and thrilled fans in back-to-back battles during the 2023 North-South All-Star game.

The two games ended with a combined difference of one run thanks to a 3-3 tie in the opening game of the doubleheader before the South team won the second game 6-5 in thrilling fashion.

Representing Shelby County, Helena’s Presley Lively and Thompson’s Laney Williams got to participate in both games following remarkable junior seasons with their respective teams.

In the opening game between the two, Lively earned one walk as the lone highlight between the two at the plate, while both helped in other areas as well.

As for the game, the North team took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second and held a 2-1 lead through four innings before the South evened the score in the bottom of the fifth.

The North quickly regained the lead in the top of the sixth with one run to make it 3-2, but the South team had its first of two consecutive thrilling seventh innings for the evening, scoring one in the home half of the final inning to create the 3-3 tie in game one.

In the opening game, Lively finished 0-1 with the walk, while Williams finished 0-2 at the plate.

The second game saw both reach base safely once to help leave their team have a chance in what eventually became a one-run loss.

The South took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but Lively’s impact was felt in the bottom of the second.

The Helena junior and the county’s Hitter of the Year followed a lead-off single with a bunt single that put two aboard with no outs.

Back-to-back fly outs eventually brought home the game-tying run to even the score 1-1 through two innings of play.

The next two innings went by scoreless before the North scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth to make it 2-1.

They then followed that with two in the bottom of the sixth, which saw Lively score her first run of the night. Pinch running, the smart baserunner, who stole 67 bases this season, was able to capitalize on an error that saw her move two bases for first of two consecutive runs to make it 4-1.

It wasn’t enough, however, as the South came back with a five-run top of the seventh to erase the three-run deficit and take a 6-4 advantage.

The North made things interesting in the bottom half, starting with back-to-back singles and loading the bases with one out. That led to one run scoring on a fielder’s choice, but a final strikeout ended the threat shortly after to create the final score.

In addition to Lively’s 1-for-2 game with one run scored, Williams finished with a walk in two appearances at the plate.

This past season, Lively was the county’s top hitter with a .535 batting average and 76 hits to earn Hitter of the Year, while Williams totaled 52 hits and 30 RBIs with an average of .433.

Now, both will get set for their final season with their respective teams.