PREP SOFTBALL: Looking back at a fun 2021 season

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West Point’s Carlie Wilkins (left) and Cullman’s Chalea Clemmons (right) led both their teams to the North Regional this season. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The 2021 season was an eventful and memorable one for several local teams. Holly Pond, Cullman, Cold Springs, Good Hope and West Point all advanced to the Regional Tournament stage of the postseason and for the teams that didn’t make it as far as they planned, this spring was a great chance to build towards 2022.

Addison (13-18)

Addison looked to have a big season in 2021 behind a mixture of veterans and young up-and-coming players and after starting the season 2-7 to start the season, the Lady Bulldogs quickly got things back on track and finished the regular season 11-9. Their year came to an end in the Class 2A, Area 11 tournament when they fell to Sumiton Christian and Cold Springs. Addison finished the year going 13-18 overall.

Madison Aderholt graduated from Addison over the weekend, but the Lady Bulldogs have a bright future ahead as they will bring back a lot of young talent in hopes of getting into the postseason in 2022.

Cold Springs (19-14) (Area Runner-up, lost to Thorsby in Regionals)

Cold Springs brought back a veteran squad in 2021 as they looked to make some huge noise during the season. The Lady Eagles started out the campaign going 5-3. Despite going through a little slump, Cold Springs righted the shift and they rolled past Fairview, Good Hope, Dora, and Holly Pond to end the regular season strong.

The Lady Eagles dropped their opening game in the Class 2A, Area 10 tournament to Winston County, then they dominated Addison and the Lady Yellow Jackets to keep their season alive before falling to Sumiton Christian in the area championship game. Cold Springs advanced to the West Regionals in Tuscaloosa and dropped their opening game to Lamar County, but they defeated Isabella to keep their season alive. Unfortunately, that’s as far as they would get as their dropped their game to Thorsby, 2-0, and the Lady Eagles finished with a 19-14 record.

Anna Katherine Voce, Kyla Aaron, Shay Sellers, Toni West and Morgan Chasteen graduated from Cold Springs over the weekend so the Lady Eagles will have some big shoes to fill in 2022 but they also have some key pieces returning as well and they will look to return to the postseason.

Cullman (34-17-1) (Area Runner-up, lost to Athens in Regionals)

Cullman brought back a lot of young, amazing talent, along with some veterans, in 2021 as they looked to take home some hardware, including the Class 6A state title. After 10 games, though, the Lady Bearcats were just 4-6. Then everything started going according to plan as Cullman won 13 of their next 16 games and they continued their dominating run for the rest of the regular season, going 5-1-1 in their last seven games. The Lady Bearcats shut out Muscle Shoals in its opening game of the Class 6A, Area 14 tournament, 4-0, and it turned into a best-of-three series between Cullman and Hartselle to see who would take home the area championship. The Lady Bearcats defeated Hartselle 6-3 in their first game of the day but the Lady Tigers ended up taking the next two games to win the area title. 

Cullman traveled to Florence to play in the North Regionals at Florence and after rolling past Jasper in their first game, 15-2, the Lady Bearcats got shut out by Hazel Green, 10-0. Cullman got a huge shut out win over Ft. Payne to keep their season alive, but they ran into a really good Athens squad and wound up falling to the Lady Golden Eagles, 19-4. The Lady Bearcats finished the season with an impressive 34-17-1 record and sophomore Chalea Clemmons had a record-breaking year on the mound and at the plate as she finished with well over 300 strikeouts and over 20 home runs. 

Everyone will return for Cullman as they will look for a repeat performance in 2022 and make it even deeper into the postseason.

Fairview (11-18)

Fairview looked to take that next step in 2021 behind a young, talented squad. They split their first six games of the season and at one point, won four out of six games. The Lady Aggies finished the regular season going 4-3 in their last seven games. Fairview dropped their opening game of the Class 5A, Area 14 tournament to Brewer, 12-2, and looked to keep their season alive against Guntersville, but they fell just short at the end, 5-4.

The Lady Aggies finished with a record of 11-18 and lost Kyleigh Aleman, Kloie Watson and Deavan Fulmer to graduation over the weekend, but will bring back a lot of young, talented players as they will look to take that next huge step in 2022.

Good Hope (13-18) (Area Runner-up, lost to Cherokee County in Regionals)

Good Hope lost a lot of great talent over the past few years, and they fielded a very young squad in 2021 as they looked to get better each game. The Lady Raiders went through a lot of growing pains during the season, but they did pick up some huge wins over Addison and Holly Pond, including a 9-8 win over the Lady Bulldogs to end the regular season. Good Hope dominated Hanceville in its opening game of the Class 4A, Area 11 tournament, but dropped their next game to Curry before rolling past the Lady Bulldogs once again to get to the area championship game against the Lady Yellow Jackets. They ended up dropping that game, 16-0, as they finished second in the area tournament. 

The Lady Raiders saw their season quickly come to an end in Regionals at Montgomery as they ended up falling to Etowah and Cherokee County, 15-1 and 15-0, respectively. Good Hope finished with a 13-18 record and will have everyone coming back in 2022 as they will look to continue getting better each day.

Hanceville (0-19)

Hanceville looked to surprise some people in 2021, but the season didn’t go according to plan as they finished with an 0-19 record, including back-to-back losses to Good Hope in the Class 4A, Area 11 tournament. They lost four seniors to graduation over the weekend: Cassidy Campbell, Mersadies Childers, Brittney Dearing and Emma Goodwin but will bring back a young, talented squad with hopes of more success in 2022.

Holly Pond (21-11) (Area Champions, lost to Elkmont in Regionals)

2021 looked to finally be the year for Holly Pond as they looked to make some history behind a veteran team. The Lady Broncos started out the season going 6-1 in their first seven games and looked to keep things going their way the rest of the way. Holly Pond reeled off six straight wins at one point and finished the regular season winning four of their last six games.

They hosted the Class 3A, Area 13 tournament after going 6-0 during the season and after defeating J.B. Pennington and Susan Moore in their first two games of the tournament, the Lady Broncos were one win away from winning the area title. They would do just that as they rolled past the Lady Tigers in the championship game, 14-4, and they traveled to Florence to play in the North Regionals.

Holly Pond defeated East Lawrence in their first game, 2-1, before falling to Fyffe in the next round, 12-4, dropping them in the loser’s bracket game against Elkmont as they looked to keep their season alive. Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan as the Lady Broncos dropped the game, 10-0, but not before they finished with an amazing record of 21-11. They lost Aubrey Armstrong to graduation over the weekend, and she’ll be a huge loss for them. Holly Pond will bring home a lot of key pieces in hopes of making even more history in 2022.

Meek (11-15)

Meek brought back a lot of veteran players in hopes of having a big year in 2021. The Lady Tigers started out the season 5-3 and won five in a row at one point, but they went through a bad slump to end the campaign, dropping 11 of their final 14 final regular season games. Meek looked to right the shift in the Class 1A, Area 12 tournament and they defeated Hubbertville in a wild game, 11-10, but that ended up being their final win of the season as they fell to Marion County and Lynn.

The Lady Tigers finished the season 11-15 and saw seven seniors graduate over the weekend: Ryleigh Thompson, Abby Phillips, Courtney Lane, Savannah Smith, Dani Cotton, Victoria Frith, and Hannah Taylor. Meek will look to fill some huge shoes in 2022 as they will look to some younger players to contribute. 

Vinemont (7-16)

Vinemont looked to have a good year in 2021 behind a young, but talented squad. The Lady Eagles split their first six games of the season, but it was a struggle for wins the rest of the way for them. Vinemont picked up some huge wins over Phil Campbell, Fairview, and Meek during the season, and they took on Danville in the opening round of the Class 3A, Area 15 tournament. The Lady Eagles got shut out by the Lady Hawks, 10-0, and looked to keep their season alive against Phil Campbell, but they fell just short to the Lady Bobcats, 10-9.

Vinemont finished with a 7-16 record and lost McKenna Kline, Emilie Hoffman and MacKenzie Lawrence to graduation over the weekend. The Lady Eagles will bring back some young talent in hopes of having a great turnaround season in 2022.

West Point (24-20-2) (Area Champions, lost to Russellville in Regionals)

West Point looked to bring home a lot of hardware in 2021 as they brought back a lot of key players. The Lady Warriors started out the season 2-0 after scoring 31 runs in the first two games combined, but they struggled over the next 10 games, going 1-7-2. A five-game winning streak saw West Point slowly start to get things back on track and then went on an 8-2 run later on in the season. They ended the regular season by shutting out Danville on the road, 6-0, and that gave them a lot of momentum going into the Class 5A, Area 15 tournament. 

The Lady Warriors defeated Russellville in the opening game of the area tournament, 4-1, before rolling past the Lady Golden Tigers in the area championship game, 14-2, and traveled to Florence to play in the North Regionals. West Point dropped their first game of Regionals to Hayden, 6-3, and faced off against Russellville in a rematch of the area tournament as the Lady Warriors looked to keep their season alive. But it wasn’t meant to be for them as they ended up falling to the Lady Golden Tigers, 8-4. West Point finished with a 24-20-2 record and lost Lexi Shadix and Sydney Sellers to graduation over the weekend. They will have almost everybody coming back in 2022 as they will look to make an even deeper postseason run and will also look to fill some huge shoes.

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