COUNTY SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT: Good Hope downs Fairview 6-3 to win county championship

The Good Hope Raiders defeated Fairview 6-3 in this year’s Cullman County Championship Game Wednesday night. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

VINEMONT, Ala. – For the first time in nine seasons, a new team stepped up to claim the county championship at the Vinemont Sports Complex Wednesday night. After toppling the nine-time defending champion West Point Warriors in the semifinals, Good Hope clashed with Fairview in the title game. The Aggies overcame an early deficit to Holly Pond to earn their spot in the county finals. The Raiders got off to a 5-0 start in the first two innings of the county championship game and Fairview was unable to overcome the early lead, allowing Good Hope to secure the county title.

Good Hope 6 – Fairview 3 (Championship Game)

RBI singles by Molly Johnson and Molly Benefield gave the Lady Raiders a 3-0 lead in the top of the first and they added to their lead when they returned to the plate in the second. Addyson Burgess sent a triple into right field and Lizzy Steed singled back up the middle to put runners on the corners. An error allowed Burgess to score and advanced Steed all the way around to third base. A few pitches later, Steed scored on a fielder’s choice to make it a 5-0 game.

Fairview cut the lead to 5-1 in the bottom of the second with an RBI single from Ayda Payne and Addison Phillips drew a walk with the bases loaded to make it 5-2. Kallie Trussell drove in another run in the bottom of the third, trimming the lead to 5-3 but the Warriors wouldn’t come any closer than that. Benefield stepped into the circle for Good Hope and West Point didn’t record another hit the rest of the way. Campbell Koch scored on an RBI groundout in the top of the fifth and the Raiders cruised through the final two innings to capture this year’s county championship with a 6-3 win.

Benefield tossed 4.2 hitless innings in the win, striking out seven batters. At the plate, Benfield added three RBIs. Johnson posted a pair of hits and RBIs for Good Hope and Steed led the game with three hits. For Fairview, Trussell and Kylie Kovar each finished with a pair of hits.

Fairview 4 – Holly Pond 2 (Semifinals)

Holly Pond took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a two-run single off the bat of Libby Stallings, but Fairview countered in the top of the second inning. Addison Phillips scored on a passed ball, Allison Davis crossed the plate on a wild pitch, and Ralie Gaines scored on an error to give the Lady Aggies a 3-2 lead. After a scoreless third inning, Fairview added to its lead in the fourth. Isabella Lopez hit a leadoff double and came around to score on a fielder’s choice by Kylie Kovar to make it a 4-2 game.

It quickly turned into a pitcher’s duel after that, as Fairview’s Ada Fales and Holly Pond’s Maggie Nail kept it a two-run game going into the seventh. Ellie Burks hit a leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh, but Fales quickly struck out Alaina Folds for the first out. Fales then forced a pop out and doubled off Burks at first base to end the game and the Lady Aggies advanced to the championship game with a 4-2 win.

Kovar finished with a hit and an RBI for Fairview. Phillips added three hits, while Emily Benson, Payne, Davis, Gaines, and Lopez all collected a hit in the win. Payne gave up just three hits and no runs in her 6 2/3 innings of work and struck out six. For Holly Pond, Stallings posted a hit and two RBIs. Black finished with a pair of hits, while Molly Neal and Burks each ended up with a hit in the loss.

Good Hope 3 – West Point 2 (Semifinals)

There was no score going into the third inning, but Good Hope got the first runs of the game in the bottom of the third. Campbell Koch hit an RBI single to left field to give the Lady Raiders the early lead, then two pitches later, Kynzlee Garmon drove in a pair of runs on a single to center field to make it 3-0. After being held scoreless through the first four innings, West Point got on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth.

Sidney Burks hit a one-out single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and ended up scoring on an RBI single by Kara Jones to cut it to 3-1. The score stayed the same going into the top of the seventh. Macie Brown hit a leadoff double for the Lady Warriors, then an error allowed her to score to make it a one-run game. They didn’t get any closer after that, though, as Molly Benefield induced a groundout, then she struck out the next batter to end the game. Good Hope knocks out the top-seeded West Point Lady Warriors 3-2 to move on to the championship game. Garmon (two RBIs) and Koch (one RBI) each finished with a hit in the game for the Lady Raiders. Lizzy Steed added a pair of hits, while Carley Adams, Haley Lay, and Addyson Burgess each posted a hit in the win. Benefield went the distance for Good Hope, allowing just four hits and two earned runs and striking out six.

For West Point, Jones finished with a hit and an RBI, while Brown, Burks, and Kylee Quinn each collected a hit in the loss. Jones went six innings, gave up seven hits, three earned runs and struck out two.

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