One of the billboards behind the outfield fence at Wetumpka’s softball field may need to repair a dent.
In the bottom of the sixth inning with her team ahead 2-1 in a game that could clinch a playoff berth, Wetumpka third baseman Cassidy Bowers smoked a line drive directly off the advertising, punctuating an eventual victory for the Indians.
“It felt really good,” Bowers said. “I haven’t hit a home run since travel ball. It was a big relief to finally get a big hit after awhile. I was very happy.”
Wetumpka beat Benjamin Russell 3-1 in area tournament play Wednesday, advancing to the area championship game Thursday and locking in a spot in the regional tournament.
Mya Holt started and pitched four innings for the Indians, her lone earned run surrendered on a solo homer by Taylor Harris of the Wildcats. Ella Watson tossed three innings in relief and allowed just two baserunners and no runs in that timeframe, picking up a save and striking out four batters.
It was Wetumpka head coach Daryl Otwell’s 200th career win.
“I’m proud of them,” Otwell said. “Such a young group, to go on and lock that qualification to regionals up. Like I told them, now you’re kind of playing with house money. Now the pressure’s off. You show up tomorrow ready to go, you can be more relaxed.”
Most of Wednesday’s contest was a pitcher’s duel.
Harris started in the circle for Benjamin Russell, surrendering two earned runs in 5.2 innings of work. What early runs the Indians did get they had to fight for.
After Wetumpka went down 1-0 in the top of the third inning, Lily Gray doubled and scored on an infield single by Jasmine Russell.
Watson singled and advanced to third base on back-to-back sacrifice bunts in the fourth inning. Ashlynn Campbell drove her in on a throwing error from the Wildcats’ shortstop, although there’s a chance Campbell would have been safe at first anyway. Wetumpka led 2-1.
Bowers’ long ball came two innings later.
“It was a fastball right down the middle, more inside than outside though,” Bowers said. “It’s my perfect pitch, low and inside.”
Mya Holt gave a steady pitching effort to pick up a win for Wetumpka, but Watson was colder than liquid nitrogen in closing.
She issued a four-pitch walk to open her appearance but only one other Wildcat runner reached in her outing, and none moved past second base.
“Those two really counter each other well,” Otwell said. “Those last two innings, Ella’s changeup was working for a strike. Had her rise ball working, and was spotting her fastball really well. I thought when she first came in, she threw a couple of balls to the backstop, she was a little nervous. I was glad to see her settle in late and get her feet wet with playoff softball.”
Wetumpka will resume play against the winner of Stanhope and Benjamin Russell for an area championship Thursday.