Thompson avenges opening loss to Huntsville, reaches state tournament

Published 7:28 pm Monday, May 6, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

ALBERTVILLE – The Thompson Warriors looked to be on their way to the state tournament after taking a 6-1 lead in the top of the fourth in their first matchup of the Class 7A East Regional on Monday, May 6 at Sand Mountain Park.

However, after the Huntsville Panthers rallied for two three-run home runs in the fifth and sixth innings to earn the 8-7 win, Thompson found itself staring down elimination, needing two wins in two games to get to the state tournament.

The Warriors got just that as they beat the Sparkman Senators 6-0 and avenged their first-round loss to Huntsville 10-4 to return to the state tournament in Oxford.

Thompson recovered from its loss to Huntsville with a big combined shutout in the circle as Kayla Haney earned the win and Autumn Ingle put on a dominant relief performance.

Both teams got runners on base in the first three innings, but they couldn’t capitalize as the defenses settled into the matchup.

One of those big spots included the bottom of the second, when after lining into a double play, Sparkman drew back-to-back walks to put two on with two outs. Despite Haney going 1.2 innings without allowing a run, the Warriors made a pitching change to put Ingle in the game.

The freshman ace locked in and delivered a big pitching performance in a key spot for Thompson, earning a fly out to end the inning to start her run of 11 straight retired batters.

It looked like the Senators would continue their strong as well after they earned the first two outs of the top of the fourth, but a Morgan Adolphus single opened up the game for the Warriors.

On the next pitch, Hannah Hobbs doubled to right to bring Adolphus home from first and give her team a 1-0 lead.

Thompson kept its momentum rolling in the top of the fifth after Kelsey Burden hit a lead-off single and advanced to third off a stolen base and a passed ball. Olivia Tindell then scored Burden with an RBI single to double the advantage.

Two batters and a pair of stolen bases from Tindell later, Laney Williams bunted to put the ball in play in front of the plate. Tindell found herself in a tricky base-running situation with the ball close by, but she dove under the tag to put the Warriors up 3-0 at the end of the inning.

After a lead-off double and a stolen base from Adolphus in the top of the sixth, Allie Bauer sacrificed herself with one out to bring Adolphus home, making the lead 4-0.

While Ingle’s perfect relief run ended in the bottom of the sixth, she worked her way around a pair of baserunners to keep the shutout bid alive.

Thompson kept rolling at the plate with singles from Tindell and Motes on the first two pitches of the top of the seventh.

Once both runners advanced to scoring position off a Laney Williams sacrifice bunt, Savanna Burnett got a pinch-hit RBI single for the fifth run of the game.

Keara Hall then drew a walk to load up the bases, and an Adolphus sacrifice fly closed out the scoring in the 6-0 win.

Ingle finished the game with five shutout innings, striking out four batters against two hits and a walk.

Tindell went 2-for-2 in the game with a walk, two runs and an RBI and Adolphus finished 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI.

That set up a rematch against Huntsville an hour later with a spot in Oxford on the line.

After both teams went scoreless in the first inning to start the game, Thompson struck in the bottom of the second after a Williams double and Bush single started the inning.

Aubree Hooks then bunted in a bid to score a run with the ball sent to the Huntsville third baseman. However, the Panthers tried to throw Nora Ellis out at home after she didn’t tag up, and the throw was dropped at the plate to allow her to score and give Thompson a 1-0 lead.

After Hall singled to load up the bases, Huntsville made another questionable throwing decision by opting for the groundout at first base instead of throwing out Josie Hamm at home, which put the Warriors up 2-0 at the end of the inning.

Thompson wasted little time extending that lead in the top of the third as Motes homered on the first pitch of the inning to put her team up three.

The Warriors got another one-two-three inning in the top of the fourth, and they capitalized in a big way in the bottom half of the frame. With two outs and Davis on, Tindell was hit by a pitch to make it two baserunners for Motes, who ripped a two-run triple to extend the lead.

Williams then got hit by a pitch as well, and after Ellis came on to run, she got to second off defensive indifference. That allowed Bush to bring her and Motes home off an RBI single to make the lead 7-0.

While Thompson held a dominant lead going into the fifth, the Panthers threatened to make it a repeat of the first game as they got on the scoreboard.

An RBI triple capitalized off a lead-off single to give Huntsville its first run of the game, and a sacrifice fly off the next batter made the score 7-2.

Hooks then entered the game at pitcher and got two of the next three batters out to end the half-inning.

However, the Panthers weren’t done as they turned a lead-off walk in the top of the sixth into a two-run home run to make it a three-run game.

Needing a big response to stem the bleeding, Hooks delivered with three straight strikeouts to end the inning.

That swung the momentum firmly back in Thompson’s favor as it had a big last turn at the plate.

With two on and two out, Hooks plated two runs with an RBI double, and on the next batter, Hall hit an RBI triple to put the Warriors up 10-4.

While Huntsville hit a pair of singles to put two runners on with one out, Thompson got a pop out and Hooks secured a strikeout to end the game and start the celebrations as the Warriors punched their ticket to state.

Bush earned the win with 4.1 innings of work as she got around two runs and three hits and added a pair of strikeouts. Hooks took four strikeouts in her 2.2 innings of relief to secure the save after allowing two runs, four hits and one walk.

Motes led the offense with a 2-for-4 game with three runs and three RBI. Bush went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a walk and Hall had a 2-for-4 game with an RBI.

Thompson will now play in the Class 7A state tournament on Monday, May 13 at Choccolocco Park in Oxford as it looks to fulfill its dream of a second state title in three seasons.