AREA SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT: Holly Pond advances to North Regional with runner-up finish, Lady Bearcats advance with win over Muscle Shoals

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The Holly Pond Lady Broncos fell to J.B. Pennington 4-3 Thursday to finish as runners-up in the 3A, Area 13 Tournament and advance to the North Regional in Florence. (Martha Needham/The Cullman Tribune)

HOLLY POND, Ala. – The Lady Broncos played their way to the 3A, Area 13 Championship Game Thursday night with a win over Susan Moore in the loser’s bracket final but unfortunately for the home crowd, they couldn’t keep the bats going in the area final and J.B. Pennington was able to rally late and defeat Holly Pond 4-3. With a runner-up finish in their area tournament, the Lady Broncos will advance to compete at the North Regional Tournament next week.

Just up the road, the Cullman Bearcats were playing Muscle Shoals for a spot in the 6A, Area 14 title game. The Lady Bearcats outpaced the Lady Trojans 6-3 to secure a spot in Thursday night’s championship game and punch their ticket to the North Regional Tournament in Florence next week.

J.B. Pennington 4 – Holly Pond 3 (3A, Area 13 Championship Game)

The Lady Broncos played their way out of jams in the first and second innings and got the bats going in the third to build an early lead. Maggie Nail drove an RBI single to left to put Holly Pond in front 1-0 and Addison Armstrong followed with another RBI single to make it a 2-0 game. After a scoreless fourth inning, J.B. Pennington trimmed the lead to 2-1 with a solo homerun in the bottom of the fifth.

The Lady Broncos put a couple runners on in the top of the sixth but couldn’t push them across and the Lady Tigers responded in their half of the inning, scoring three more runs to claim a 4-2 lead going into the seventh. Nail scored on a passed ball to trim the lead to 4-3 but Holly Pond wasn’t able to come any closer and J.B. Pennington held on to win it 4-3.

Nail (one RBI), Samantha Giles and Kaylee Stallings each posted a pair of hits in the loss.

Cullman 6 – Muscle Shoals 3 (6A, Area 14)

After a scoreless opening frame, Haley Shannon ripped a 2-run single into right field to give the Lady Bearcats a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Savannah Davis followed her with an RBI double into left-center that made it 3-0 and Cullman plated two more runs on passed balls to take a 5-0 lead into the third inning.

Muscle Shoals took advantage of some errors in the top of the third to cut the lead to 5-3 but after a scoreless fourth inning, the Lady Bearcats stretched their lead to 6-3 in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI single from Faith Guest. Shannon and the Lady Bearcats collected the final six outs over the next two innings and secured a 6-3 win for Cullman.

Shannon tossed a complete game, allowing three unearned runs on four hits and posting a strikeout. Shannon also added three hits and a pair of RBIs at the plate and Davis and Guest each finished with a hit and an RBI in the win as well.

Hartselle 13 – Cullman 1 (6A, Area 14 Championship Game)

The Lady Bearcats squared off against the top-seeded Lady Tigers for the 6A, Area 14 title Thursday night and unfortunately for the black & gold, Hartselle jumped out to an early 5-0 lead and Cullman wasn’t able to recover.

The Lady Tigers plated a pair of runs in the top of the first and three more in the top of the second to build a 5-0 lead going into the third inning. After a scoreless third, a 3-run homerun stretched the lead to 8-0 in the top of the fourth. Hartselle added another run in the top half of the fifth, but Olivia Britton drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom half of the inning to trim the lead to 9-1.

The Lady Tigers extended their lead to 13-1 in the top of the sixth and held on to defeat the Bearcats and claim this year’s 6A, Area 14 crown.

Britton posted the lone hit and RBI for Cullman in the loss. The Lady Bearcats will advance to play at the North Regional Tournament in Florence next week.

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