The annual Wetumpka Softball Tournament brought plenty of talent, including five teams from last year’s state tournament and two defending state champions, to the city fields over the weekend. All five AHSAA schools from Elmore County were represented with Tallassee finishing on top but the competition spread well across the county line.
“When I first started planning out this tournament, the thought was to make teams want to be here,” Wetumpka coach Daryl Otwell said. “I think it’s eye catching to a lot of coaches. You want to play good competition especially early in the year. We tried to get 24 of the best teams in the state.”
Wetumpka (13-3) extended its winning streak to 10 games with victories over Pinson Valley, 8-1, and Smiths Station, 6-1, in pool play before defeating Marbury, 4-2, in the knockout round. Wetumpka’s tournament was cut short in the semifinals when Prattville Christian’s Landyn McAnnally limited the Indians to just two hits in a 4-0 loss.
Mya Holt led the way for Wetumpka’s offense, hitting a pair of home runs and finishing with five RBIs. Holt also had a strong outing in the circle against PCA despite taking the loss. She scattered seven hits and also struck out three in the complete-game effort.
Ashlynn Campbell also had a strong bat, finishing with six hits and three RBIs, while Jules Thames poured on five hits. Sierra Black also notched three while Madison Elmore and Lily Gray each had a pair.
Thames grabbed two wins in the circle, not allowing an earned run in 10 innings.
“I thought we competed hard but I saw a lot of things that we want to fix so that’s a good thing,” Otwell said. “You’re on a 10-game win streak so you don’t want to lose that but now we have an opportunity to create a new one.”
After pool play, the tournament became a single-elimination format which differs from the postseason but coaches hope the weekend showed players the feeling of playing with their backs against the wall.
“When you get into bracket play, there is going to be some pressure,” Otwell said. “This is a good learning situation for the girls. You lose one game at a regional or state tournament, you have to win five or six games straight to make it out of the losers bracket.”
Elmore County (12-3) came out on top of their pool and finished the weekend with three wins before being knocked out by Hazel Green in the quarterfinals.
Elmore County (12-3) had its work cut out for itself in the opening game when the Panthers squared off against Rehobeth pitcher Stephanie Schoonover, a Kentucky commit. Aubrey Allen matched Schoonover at every turn, striking out 11 over five innings, and led Elmore County to a 2-0 win.
Madelyn Becker hit a home run in the next game, leading Elmore County’s offense in a 5-2 victory against Stanhope Elmore. Ashtyn Pannell had a two-run double to break a tie in the first inning.
The Panthers offense kept the momentum going in the first round of bracket play against Dadeville. Elmore County racked up 15 runs in just three innings to grab the 15-1 run-rule win.
Pannell finished the weekend with six RBIs and three extra-base hits, including her first home run. Madison Britt led the team with six hits and a .750 batting average.
Stanhope Elmore (3-5) won its opener in extra innings against Opelika, 9-4, but lost to Elmore County in pool play before also being eliminated by McAnnally and PCA, 2-0.
The Mustangs struggled on offense but Brooke Burkett led the way by reaching base seven times in just eight plate appearances. Lindsey White was the big bat, hitting her first home run and finishing the weekend with a 1.375 on-base plus slugging percentage and two RBIs.
Neci King was dominant in the circle, striking out 20 and allowing just two earned runs in 12 innings.
In three games, the Mustangs struggled offensively and finished with only 12 total hits. All of their offense came from just five sources. Burkett and White each had three hits while Megan Smith, Morgan Carroll and King contributed two hits apiece.
Holtville (2-7) had one of the toughest draws of the weekend as it lost to Hazel Green and Montevallo in pool play. The Bulldogs had a chance to pull off an upset in bracket play against Saraland but the Spartans scored four runs in the bottom of the final frame, including a walk-off home run.