COUNTY SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT: Broncos, Aggies, Raiders advance on day 1

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Molly Neal’s walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth completed a dramatic, 17-16 comeback win over Vinemont Monday night. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

VINEMONT, Ala. – This year’s Cullman County Softball Tournament is underway and three teams secured spots in the semifinals on day one. Fairview handled Hanceville 15-0 to move on and Good Hope fended off a late rally from Cold Springs to advance as well. Vinemont clashed with Holly Pond in the final game of the day and after falling behind 10 runs in the fifth, the Lady Broncos put eight runs on the board in the bottom of the sixth and two more in the seventh to tie the game at 15 and force extra innings. Vinemont reclaimed a 1-run lead in the top of the eighth, but Holly Pond plated a pair of runs in the final frame to complete a dramatic comeback and punch its ticket to the semifinals.

This year’s semifinal games and championship game were originally scheduled to be played Tuesday but due to the threat of inclement weather, all games scheduled for Tuesday have been moved to Wednesday starting at 2 p.m.

Fairview 15 – Hanceville 0

The Lady Aggies took just three innings to secure their win over Hanceville. Fairview plated four runs in the bottom of the first inning to take an early lead and continued to add to it in the second. A single off the bat of Emily Benson drove in a pair of runs to make it 6-0 and back to back triples from Ayda Payne and Addison Phillips put three more runs on the board, stretching the lead to 9-0.

Allison Davis kept the inning going with an RBI single into left field and a few pitches later, Ralie Gaines knocked a double into right field to plate two more runs and make it a 12-0 game. Gaines scored on an Ada Fales groundout to make it 13-0 later in the inning and a single from Payne tacked on two more runs and put Fairview in front 15-0 at the end of the second. The Lady Aggies collected the final three outs they needed in the top half of the third to secure a spot in Wednesday’s semifinals.

Payne led the way at the plate with three hits and four RBIs. Gaines (one hit) finished with a pair of RBIs and Benson (one RBI) and Phillips (one RBI) each added a pair of hits.

Fairview will play Holly Pond in the semifinals Wednesday at 2 p.m.

Good Hope 10 – Cold Springs 6

The Lady Eagles took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Kaydance Williams scored on a sacrifice bunt from Kortnie Williams, but Good Hope responded in the bottom half of the inning. Campbell Kock ripped a 2-run single into left field to give the Lady Raiders a 2-1 lead and Carley Adams launched an RBI double into center field to make it a 3-1 game going into the second inning.

After a pair of scoreless innings, Good Hope added to its lead in the fourth. An RBI triple from Haley Lay extended the lead to 4-1 and two pitches later, Natalie Miller drove in another run with a single to right field to make it 5-1. Lizzy Steed knocked an RBI single into the left field to make it a 6-1 game and a 2-run double off the bat of Molly Johnson put the Lady Raiders ahead 8-1 at the end of the fourth.

Good Hope tacked on two more runs in the fifth to build the lead up to 10-1 but the Lady Eagles rallied in the top of the sixth, pushing five runs across the plate to cut the lead to 10-6. However, Cold Springs couldn’t come any closer and the Lady Raiders advanced to the semifinals with a 10-6 win.

Johnson finished with three hits and three RBIs in the win for Good Hope. Miller and Campbell Kock each posted a pair of hits and RBIs and Lay (one RBI) and Steed (one RBI) each added two hits. For Cold Springs, Williams, Ciara Calvert and Sadie Smith each recorded a hit in the loss.

Good Hope will play top-seeded West Point Wednesday at 2 p.m.

Holly Pond 17 – Vinemont 16 (eight innings)

Vinemont got off to a fast start, taking a 4-0 lead in the top of the first. Three of those runs came on a 3-run homer by Katleyn Evans and later in the inning, Emma Dortch connected on an RBI single to make it 4-0. However, Holly Pond answered with four runs in the bottom half of the first. A single from Maggie Nail, an error and a single off the bat of Alivia Farr tied the game at 4 going into the second inning.

The Lady Eagles strung together hits by Callie Millwood, Haley Millwood and Evans to put three more runs on the board and take a 7-4 lead in the top of the second. After a scoreless third inning, they added to their lead in the fourth and the fifth. Callie Millwood scored on a wild pitch to make it an 8-4 game in the top of the fourth and later in the fifth, Brooklyn Knott scored on a passed ball to make it 9-4. A hit batter with the bases loaded, a passed ball and an error helped Vinemont stretch the lead to 12-4 by the end of the inning.

The Lady Broncos were able to push a run across and trim the lead to 12-5 in the bottom of the fifth, but Vinemont answered with three more runs in the top of the sixth, extending the lead to 15-5.

The bottom of the sixth is when the momentum began to shift toward the Holly Pond dugout. With a pair of runners on the bases, Lauryn Hoffman, Nail and Libby Stallings squared up three straight singles to plate four runs and cut the lead to 15-9. Following a pair of walks, Farr sent a single into right field to make it a 5-run game and one pitch later, Ellie Burks drove in another run with a single up the middle. The hits kept coming for the Lady Broncos and later in the inning, Maycie Black knocked a 2-run single into center field to make it a 15-13 game at the start of the seventh.

The Lady Eagles were unable to add to their lead in the top of the seventh and down to its final three outs, Holly Pond was able to score on a fielder’s choice and an error to tie the game at 15 and send us to extra innings. Arleigh Thomason put Vinemont back in front 16-15 with an RBI single in the top of the eighth but the Lady Broncos completed their comeback in the bottom half of the inning. Black scored on an error to tie things up at 16 and with two outs on the board and the winning run on base, Molly Neal walked it off with a line drive single back up the middle, giving Holly Pond a hard-fought, 17-16 win and a spot in the semifinals.

Stallings (two hits) posted four RBIs in the win and Farr (two hits) finished with three. Black (two RBIs) collected four hits and Hoffman (one RBI) and Alaina Folds each added three.

For Vinemont, Evans (two hits) led the way with five RBIs and Dortch (one RBI) posted a pair of hits. Callie and Haley Millwood each finished with a hit and an RBI in the loss.

Holly Pond will play Fairview in the semifinals Wednesday at 2 p.m.

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