Helena finishes Claw Classic undefeated to claim tournament title

Published 3:53 pm Monday, April 8, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

SUMITON – The Helena Huskies extended their latest win streak to 11 games and brought home a trophy in the process as they claimed the Claw Classic Championship on Saturday, April 6 at Sumiton Christian School.

Helena went 5-0 in the tournament with wins over Gardendale Rockets, Mortimer Jordan Blue Devils, Sumiton Christian Eagles, Cordova Blue Devils and Carbon Hill Bulldogs.

In the tournament opener against Gardendale, the Huskies got all three batters out in the top of the first before putting a pair of runners on base with walks.

After Presley Lively stole third, Emma Olive drove her home with an RBI single to open up a 1-0 lead.

Helena doubled that lead in the second inning. Molli Rollan hit a lead-off single, and the Huskies used smart hitting to move her up the base paths, first off a Gracie Storey sacrifice bunt to reach third and then off a Cammi Pugh sacrifice fly to score and make the lead 2-0.

The Rockets got a run back in the top of the third after a Gardendale runner scored after tagging up during a fly out.

However, Helena used a lead-off single by Hannah Steele in the bottom of the third to set it up for another run. After a Henley Traywick sacrifice bunt, Olive got her second run-scoring hit of the game, this time off an RBI double, to score Steele and increase the lead to 3-1.

The Rockets cut the deficit to one with a two-out RBI single in the top of the sixth, but they didn’t have enough time to get beyond the sixth inning and the Huskies took the 3-2 win.

Hayden Traywick took the win with three strikeouts in 5.2 innings against two runs, six hits and four walks.

In the second game of the day, Helena quickly overcame an early deficit to top Mortimer Jordan.

After a walk and a single to start the top of the first for the Blue Devils, a passed ball put them on the board and an RBI single on the next pitch made the score 2-0. Harley Morrison then struck out two of the next three batters to get out of the inning.

Mortimer Jordan gave Helena a pair of chances to get on base with an error and a walk, and then two passed balls of its own allowed Lively and Steele to come home and tie the game at 2-2.

After a scoreless second inning, Lively hit a triple on the first pitch of the bottom of the third. That extra-base hit foreshadowed another two-run inning for the Huskies.

Steele walked to put runners on the corners, and then Henley Traywick hit into a ground out to allow Lively to come home and make the lead 3-2. Olive then hit an RBI double to double the advantage to two runs.

The Blue Devils clawed back a run off an error in the top of the fourth, but Helena responded in the bottom of the inning with three straight hits by Harley Morrison, Destiny Brashears and Pugh.

Mortmer Jordan issued an intentional walk to load the bases with one out, but a sacrifice fly took the lead back to two runs and eventually allowed Helena to win 5-3 in four innings.

Morrison earned the win across a complete game of four innings, earning two strikeouts while working her way around one earned run, three total runs, three hits and two walks.

The next day, the Huskies kicked off Saturday with a big win over Sumiton Christian.

A pair of walks and a Lively stolen base put runners on the corners in the top of the first for Olive, who hit an RBI single to open up the scoring.

That was the start of three straight scoring plays for Helena as Rollan batted in a run off a line out and Addison Draiss took the lead to 3-0 after an RBI single.

The second inning came and went without a run, but Steele and Henley Traywick reached base off walks to kick off a big third inning.

On the next at-bat, a run scored off an error during Olive’s at-bat to make the score 4-0. Rollan then doubled on the next pitch to clear the bases and increase the lead to six.

Draiss singled to put runners on the corners, but the Eagles then got a runner out at home off a fielder’s choice to get the first out of the inning.

Carli Darden plated another pair of runs with an RBI single as the lead grew to eight. That was followed by a pair of bunt singles from Pugh and Lively in a bid to get Darden home, but Sumiton Christian got the out at home.

Steele then continued the run of singles with an RBI single to make the lead 9-0 at the end of the third.

The Huskies then got a trio of free base runners in the top of the fourth off a walk and back-to-back errors. Pugh then brought a pair of those runners home off an RBI single and sealed the 11-0 win.

Lively, Draiss and Pugh each finished the game 2-for-3 with Pugh earning two RBI and a run, Draiss earning a run and an RBI and Lively scoring a run. Rollan had a team-high three RBI in a 1-for-3 game.

Jaida Holtzclaw and Marlee Parsons combined for a four-inning no hitter as a first inning walk was the lone base runner for the Eagles.

Helena carried that in into its second game of the day against Cordova.

The Huskies got on the board in the bottom of the first after a lead-off double from Lively turned into an RBI ground out by Steele on the ensuing at-bat.

That 1-0 lead shortly became 2-0 after an Olive double, hit batsman and a Storey single loaded up the bases for Tatum Cooper, who drew a five-pitch walk.

The Blue Devils tied up the game in the top of the second after a pair of singles turned into a two-run double.

Helena went on a hitting spree in the bottom of the second as Pugh, Lively, Steele and Henley Traywick hit four straight singles, and Henley Traywick’s hit led to a pair of runs to make the score 4-2.

Cordova cut the lead to one off an error in the top of the third, but the Huskies restored their two-run lead off a Lively RBI groundout in the bottom of the same inning. The 5-3 scored held through the bottom of the fourth to give Helena the win.

Storey went 2-for-2 at the plate and Lively had a 2-for-3 game with two runs and an RBI. Henley Traywick had two RBI in a 1-for-3 game.

Morrison took the win with three strikeouts in three innings and Parsons came in for the fourth inning for the save.

Helena then closed out the tournament with a shutout win against Carbon Hill.

The Huskies overcame three walks in the top of the first that loaded the bases to strike out the next two batters and end the inning.

Helena then took the lead shortly after thanks to a sacrifice fly that scored Lively following her lead-off single.

The next inning, a Storey double and Hayden Traywick walk put a pair of runners on.

Pugh then grounded out to advance the runners to second and third and set up Lively to shoot a hard grounder to center and bring both runners home. Lively herself then came home off an error by the center fielder to make the lead 4-0.

Helena then put the finishing touches on the 6-0 win in the bottom of the third with a one-out RBI single by Rollan and a two-out RBI double by Storey.

Helena secured the shutout with a dominant no-hitter performance in the circle by both Holtzclaw and Parsons.

Holtzclaw took the win with five strikeouts in two hitless innings against four walks, and Parsons secured four strikeouts in a pair of hitless innings of her own while allowing just one walk.

Lively and Storey finished the game 2-for-2 as Lively had two RBI, two runs and a walk and Storey scored a run and had an RBI.

With the victory, the Huskies claimed the Claw Classic championship with their fifth straight win at the tournament.

Helena will return to area play on Monday, April 8 as it hosts Helena at 5 p.m.