REGIONAL SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT: Cullman splits opening matchups, Good Hope, Holly Pond eliminated

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Cullman defeated Jasper in its first game of the North Regional Tournament Tuesday 17-12 (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

FLORENCE, Ala. – Three Cullman County squads were on the field at Coffee O’Neal Park in Florence Tuesday to compete in this year’s North Regional Softball Tournament and outside of a 17-12 Cullman win over Jasper, it was a tough day for local teams. Holly Pond and Good Hope dropped their opening matchups against Elkmont and West Morgan respectively and were eliminated from postseason contention in their following games against East Lawrence and Hamilton. Cullman fell in its second game of the day against Mortimer Jordan but will be back on the field action Wednesday at 9 a.m. to play Gardendale.

Cullman 17 – Jasper 12 (6A)

The Lady Bearcats jumped out to an early lead in their first matchup against Jasper, plating five runs in the top of the second. Carlie Burnham scored on a passed ball to put Cullman’s first run on the board and Reese Hopper drove a 2-run single into left field to stretch the lead to 3-0. Haley Shannon punched an RBI single up the middle to make it a 4-0 game and Shannon came around to score on an error to give the Lady Bearcats a 5-0 lead.

The Lady Vikings trimmed the lead to 5-1 in the bottom half of the second, but Cullman got the run back in the third with an RBI single from Brooklyn Morton to build the lead back up to five. Jasper was able to put some runs on the board in the bottom of the third, stringing together three hits and taking advantage of three errors to tie the game at 6 going into the fourth.

The Lady Bearcats bounced back to retake the lead in the next frame. An RBI double by Taylor Au brought Presley Reeling home to score and make it 7-6. Shannon scored on an RBI groundout from Davis and Burnham tacked on another run with a sacrifice fly to extend Cullman’s lead to 9-6. The ‘Cats ended the bottom half of the inning with a double play and added another run in the top of the fifth on an RBI groundout by Abby Maples to make it a 10-6 game.

Jasper rallied in the bottom of the fifth, plating six runs to move in front 12-10 going into the sixth inning. The momentum continued to swing back and forth as Burnham ripped a 2-run double into center field to tie the game 12 and Faith Guest drove an RBI single to right to put the Lady Bearcats back in front 13-12. Hopper drew a walk with the bases loaded to make it 14-12 and a fielder’s choice allowed Cullman to plate another run to pull ahead 15-12.

The Lady Vikings went down in order in the bottom half of the sixth and the ‘Cats tack on some insurance runs in the top of the seventh. RBI singles from Hopper and Maples extended the lead to 17-12 and the Lady Bearcats collected the final three outs in the bottom of the seventh to wrap up a 17-12 win over Jasper.

Cullman racked up 18 hits in the win. Guest (one RBI) led the way with three hits and Hopper (two hits) posted four RBIs. Burnham (three RBIs), Shannon (one RBI), Au (one RBI), Morton (one RBI) and Olivia Britton each finished with a pair of hits in the win.

Mortimer Jordan 11 – Cullman 7 (6A)

Cullman took care of business in their first game at the North Regionals in Florence, outlasting Jasper, 17-12. They looked to move even closer to the finals as they took on Mortimer Jordan. 

The Lady Blue Devils struck first in its opening at-bats as a leadoff triple, followed by an RBI groundout, gave them an early 1-0 lead. Mortimer Jordan added to their lead in the top of the third inning. A leadoff single was followed by an RBI triple as that made it 2-0, then an RBI fielder’s choice gave them a 3-0 lead. The Lady Blue Devils added another run on a wild pitch to make it 4-0 in the fourth inning. 

A pair of RBI singles in the fifth inning pushed Mortimer Jordan’s lead to 6-0, then a Cullman error, a fielder’s choice, and a passed ball helped them increase their lead to 9-0 in the top of the sixth. After being held in check through the first five innings, the Lady Bearcats got something going in their half of the sixth. With two outs, Savannah Davis hit a single, then Carlie Burnham reached on an error. Olivia Britton and Sadie Graham each hit back-to-back RBI singles to make it a 9-2 game, then a Lady Blue Devil error allowed Britton to score as that made it 9-3.

Mortimer Jordan added a pair of runs in the seventh to push their lead to 11-3, but Cullman looked for a late rally in their final at-bats. The Lady Bearcats put runners on the corners with two outs and Haley Shannon scored on a wild pitch to cut it to 11-4. Burnham hit an RBI single to left field to bring home Davis as that swiveled the deficit to six at 11-5, then Britton lined a two-run home run over the center field fence to make it 11-7. Unfortunately, though, they didn’t get any closer after that as Cullman ended up falling just short at the end to Mortimer Jordan, 11-7.Britton finished with two hits and three RBIs for Cullman. Graham added a pair of hits and an RBI. Burnham ended up with a hit and an RBI. Shannon added a pair of hits, while Davis and Faith Guest each chipped in with a hit of their own. 

The Lady Bearcats will look to keep their season alive Tuesday morning as they will take on Gardendale at 9 a.m.

Elkmont 13 – Holly Pond 0 (3A)

Holly Pond drew Elkmont for its first North Regional Tournament matchup Tuesday and the Lady Broncos had some trouble getting the bats going against the Lady Red Devils. Elkmont plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the first and two more in the second to pull ahead 4-0 early. The Lady Red Devils added another run in the third to stretch the lead to 5-0 going into the fourth.

A single by Maggie Nail gave the Lady Broncos a base runner in the top of the fourth but a pair of strikeouts left her stranded. Elkmont went back to work at the plate in the bottom half of the inning, stringing together six hits to score eight runs and pull away to defeat Holly Pond 13-0 in five innings.

Nail posted the only hit for the Lady Broncos in the loss.

East Lawrence 10 – Holly Pond 7 (3A)

Holly Pond looked to quickly bounce back against East Lawrence in a loser’s bracket game. After a scoreless first inning, the Lady Broncos got on the scoreboard first in the top of the second. Molly Neal hit a leadoff single, then Madyson Rickman hit an RBI triple to right field to give Holly Pond a 1-0 lead. Brooke Hill followed that up with an RBI single as that made it 2-0. The Lady Broncos added a run in the top of the third inning on an RBI single by Maggie Nail and in the fourth on a Samantha Giles RBI single.

East Lawrence had a quick answer in their half of the fourth as an RBI single put them on the scoreboard. The Lady Eagles scored on a pair of passed balls to make it 4-3, then an RBI double tied the game up at four. Holly Pond quickly broke the tie in the fifth inning as Neal hit an RBI single and Rickman hit a solo home run over the center field fence as that gave them a 6-4 lead. The Lady Eagles, though, responded with yet another big inning as they plated six runs in the bottom of the fifth, all with two outs, as they took the lead right back at 10-6.

The Lady Broncos looked to get the lead once again in the top of the seventh. Nail hit a one-out single, then Neal reached on an error. Rickman lined an RBI single to center field as that brought home Nail to make it a 10-7 game. But that’s as close as they would get the rest of the way as a line out and a groundout ended the game. Holly Pond’s season comes to an end as they ended up dropping the game to East Lawrence, 10-7.

Rickman finished with three hits and three RBIs for the Lady Broncos. Nail had a huge game for Holly Pond as she finished four-for-four with an RBI. Giles and Neal each added a pair of hits and an RBI. Hill ended up with a hit and an RBI, while Addison Armstrong collected a hit as well. 

Seven players played their last game as a Lady Bronco: Addison Armstrong, Rebecca Bell, Mattie Earl, Cidney Hays, Brooke Hill, Emmaray Spitzer, and Kaylee Stallings. They will graduate on May 21st and Holly Pond will look to not only fill some very huge shoes but get back in the postseason once again in 2023.

West Morgan 16 – Good Hope 1 (4A)

The Lady Raiders squared off against West Morgan in their first Tuesday matchup at the North Regional and after taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, the Lady Rebels plated eight more runs in the second to take an early, 9-0 lead.

Good Hope had a difficult time finding a rhythm at the plate and West Morgan added another run in the bottom of the third to extend the lead to 10-0. Alexandria Steed scored on a sacrifice fly from Haley Lay to cut the lead to 10-1 in the top of the fourth, but the Lady Rebels responded in their half of the inning. A 2-run homer by West Morgan built the lead up to 12-1 and the Lady Rebels were able to stretch their lead to 16-1 to secure a win over the Lady Raiders in four innings.

Steed posted the only hit for Good Hope in the loss.

Hamilton 5 – Good Hope 0 (4A)

Good Hope looked to keep their season alive in a loser’s bracket game against Hamilton. The Lady Aggies, though, got on the scoreboard first in its opening at-bats as a sacrifice fly and an RBI groundout gave them an early 2-0 lead. The Lady Raiders slowly started to get something going in the top of the fourth inning as Haley Lay led off the inning with an infield single. A couple of batters later, Carly Adams reached on another infield single, and Natalie Miller drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. A flyout, though, quickly ended the inning for the Lady Raiders.

Good Hope put a couple of more runners on base in the top of the fifth inning but were unable to put any runs on the scoreboard. Hamilton added to their lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. A leadoff walk was later followed by a one-out RBI triple and that made it a 3-0 game. A pair of Lady Raider errors allowed Hamilton to push across two more runs as that helped increase their lead to 5-0. Good Hope couldn’t get anything going in their final at-bats as the Lady Raider season came to an end Monday to the Lady Aggies, 5-0.

Lay finished with two hits for Good Hope and Alexandria Steed, Bailey Keef, and Adams each added a hit for the Lady Raiders. This postseason appearance for Good Hope will really help out this really young team for next season as everyone will be coming back in hopes of making an even deeper playoff run.

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