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Sydney Dixon digs in to outrun a bunt against Stanhope Elmore.

Wetumpka, SEHS tangle in Round 1

Published 12:00pm Thursday, May 2, 2013

For schools across the state of Alabama high school softball season comes down to three days.

In Elmore County, the two biggest rivals are going head-to-head on the first day.

“We are just ready to play,” said Jenna Mead, coach of the Stanhope Elmore Lady Mustangs. “We took the weekend off to heal some nit-picking injuries and to give everyone a chance to rest and refocus. Now we’re ready to compete.”

The two met during the regular season with Wetumpka pulling ahead in both games and will tangle Thursday afternoon at 2 in the second game of the Class 6A, Area 7 softball tournament.

Prattville and Thompson meet earlier in the day at noon.

“Our mindset is to go in and win two games and get back to Troy,” said Randy Belyeu, coach of the Lady Indians. “In a situation like this, you can’t take anybody lightly. And you have to play great defense. The run we went on, winning a bunch of games in a row, that’s because we played awesome defense.”

Tournaments, though, come down to pitching.

The Lady Mustangs will rely on the arms of sisters Alyssa and Kerstie and Reynolds (a senior and a freshman) and sophomore Amanda Ingram.

“Ingram’s always bringing the heat,” said Mead. “Alyssa did have the best ERA on the team, but gave up two home runs against Marbury. She’s our go-to.”

The Lady Indians will counter the Stanhope Elmore combination with a pair of sophomores, Lauren Lett and Savannah Reaves.

“Lauren is pitching her tail off right now,” said Belyeu. “In a situation like this, you’ve seen each other so many times, you pretty much pick up everybody’s habits and what they are going to do. Hopefully we can go out there and pitch to our strengths and to their weaknesses.”

Both teams are looking for a return trip to the Troy-hosted South Central Regional tournament and a first-game win will move either team a step closer to  a seat on the southbound bus.

“Everybody is going to be fired up,” said Belyeu. “Stanhope Elmore is not a bad team and we can’t take them lightly.”

The Lady Mustangs are anchored defensively by third baseman Moody Dejarnette and can rattle off the offense.

“I think we are peaking at the right time,” said Mead. “They are working very hard now and the important thing is how we finish.”

Blair Denman, a Wallace-Dothan signee, banged out a homer and a triple on senior night. Jourdan Forarori, a Southern Union signee, accounted for a double and a triple and currently lead the Lady Mustangs with a .407 mark from the leadoff spot.

“I need a pretty good tournament out of a few people,” said Mead. “When we have everything clicking, we are pretty unstoppable. We had everything clicking in the Elmore County tournament and finished second. We lost in the Pelham tournament at the first of the year, but we were stringing together base hits. I know what these girls can do. The question is can we come together and do it.”

For the Lady Indians, the sophomores have taken the lead. Courtney Richardson (.388) and Lett (.385) are the leaders at the plate, just ahead of collegiate signees Jamica Williams (signed to LBW, batting .323), Sydney Dixon (signed to Pensacola State, batting .290) and Alexis Strickland (signed to Chattahoochee Valley, batting .290).

For the Lady Indians, Thursday and Friday’s games are going to require little travel as Wetumpka won the regular season area crown and the right to host.

“It’s our facilities and our field,” said Belyeu. “We don’t have to travel, so you don’t have to worry about the girls getting roadweary. And we’re in town so you know they are going to eat and rest.”

The championship pairing will advance to Troy May 10-11 and will more than likely match up with the winner and runner from the Pelham/Oak Mountain area.

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