REGIONAL SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT: West Point punches ticket to State Tournament with 4-3 win over Ardmore

The Lady Warriors celebrate following their 4-3 win over Ardmore at the North Regional Tournament Thursday. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

FLORENCE, Ala. – For the first time in school history, the West Point Lady Warriors are headed to the State Tournament. West Point arrived in Florence to continue their run at the North Regional and after falling to Hayden in the winner’s bracket final 2-1, the Lady Warriors bounced back with a 4-3 win over Ardmore to punch their ticket to Oxford next week.

Ardmore went into the top of the seventh trailing 4-3 and loaded the bases with nobody out. The Lady Tigers tagged up on a fly ball to left field, but Macie Brown gunned her down at the plate to keep West Point in front and put two outs on the board. A few pitches later, a fly ball to Kylee Quinn at first base secured the win for the Lady Warriors.

West Point Head Coach Steven Harbison was proud of the way his team rose to the occasion Thursday night and is excited to continue the season at state next week with his group of veterans.

“They’ve been battling all season and in the last three of four years we’ve been in spots like this and came up short, but we’ve got some grizzled vets that have been here before and they all just pulled together as a team,” Harbison said. “It was just amazing; everybody was contributing, and it was beautiful. There are no words to describe how proud I am of them and how much they deserve this.”

West Point 4 – Ardmore 3 (5A loser’s bracket final)

Ardmore took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but the Lady Warriors responded in their half of the inning. Bethany Minck blasted a leadoff homerun to tie the game at 1 and singles by Carlie Wilkins, Braelee Quinn and Macie Brown loaded the bases. That’s when Sidney Burks laced a single up the middle and a throwing error allowed three more runners to cross the plate and give West Point a 4-1 advantage going into the second.

After a scoreless third inning, Ardmore scored in the top of the fourth to trim the lead to 4-2 and following a scoreless fifth, the Lady Tigers took advantage of an error to make it a 4-3 game going into the final frame. Ardmore’s first three batters strung together three straight singles to load the bases in the top of the seventh but after tagging up on a fly ball to left field, Brown threw out the runner advancing to the plate and put two outs on the board. A fly ball to Kylee Quinn at first base iced a 4-3 win for the Lady Warriors a few pitches later and secured a spot at this year’s 5A State Tournament in Oxford next week.

Wilkins pitched another complete game in the win against Ardmore, allowing three runs (two earned) nine hits. Burks (two hits) and Minck (two hits) each posted RBIs for West Point and Wilkins added a pair of hits as well.

The Lady Warriors will now advance to compete at the State Tournament in Oxford and will be on the field at Choccolocco Park to play Wednesday.

Hayden 2 – West Point 1 (5A winner’s bracket final)

The Lady Wildcats jumped out to an early lead with a 2-run homer in the bottom of the first, but West Point was able to get one of those runs back in the top half of the third. Macie Brown led off the inning with a single to right field and after a sacrifice bunt by Braelee Quinn moved her over, she crossed the plate on a wild pitch to trim the lead to 2-1.

Hits were tough to come by after that. Carlie Wilkins and Brown singled to give the Lady Warriors a pair of runners in the top of the fourth, but a line drive off the bat of Quinn turned into a double play and ended the inning. Macayla Wilkins drew a walk and Carlie Wilkins doubled over the center fielder’s head to put runners in scoring position in the top of the sixth, but a pair of strikeouts left them stranded. West Point threatened the lead again the top of the seventh but couldn’t bring the runners home and Hayden held on to win it 2-1.

Carlie Wilkins tossed six innings for the Lady Warriors, allowing two runs on just two hits and striking out seven. Wilkins and Brown each posted a pair of hits at the plate as well.

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