After finishing first in its area, the Edgewood softball team received a bye in the regional tournament and clinched a spot in this week’s state tournament in Montgomery. However, the Wildcats still needed to play two games at the regional tournament to determine seeding.
Edgewood (41-16) started play against Lowndes, a team the Wildcats beat three times in the regular season. The game started in an unfamiliar way as Lowndes took a 3-1 lead after three innings.
“We have played them before and had a lot of success,” Edgewood coach Mark Segrest said. “We didn’t really play well this game but this time of year it’s all about getting to advance.”
The Wildcats cut the lead in half with an RBI single from Emmy Brothers in the bottom of the fourth. Mary Michael Burnham grounded into a fielder’s choice in the sixth but Jessie Morales scored on the play to tie the game.
With the score still tied after seven innings, the teams entered play with the international tiebreaker rules in effect. Faith Wheat finally put an end to the game with an RBI double in the ninth inning to send the Wildcats into the regional final.
Edgewood met area foe Autauga in the championship game and fell behind early as the Generals scored a run off Burnham in the first inning. Autauga added three more runs in the seventh inning and held off a late rally by the Wildcats to earn the top seed from the south region.
“They’re ranked No. 1 for a reason,” Segrest said. We got behind and it was tough to get back into the game. For the most part, that is how it’s going to be from here on out.”
Edgewood will be back in action Thursday with play at Lagoon Park beginning at noon. The Wildcats will play South Choctaw in the first round, a team they have not played yet this season.
“2A is absolutely loaded this year,” Segrest said. “We haven’t seen them but they are experienced and have an outstanding number one pitcher.”
There are no easy paths at this point in the season but staying out of an early trip to the losers’ bracket is important. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, a win would send Edgewood to a matchup against Pickens and the 2018 AISA Pitcher of the Year Shelby Lowe.
“That’s the balancing act,” Segrest said. “If we do win that game, we could have Pickens and they have the top pitcher in the country. You still want to win that first game but you have to look at what combination of pitching gives you the best chance at advancing and that can be tough.”
Edgewood will be looking to Burnham and Alexis Walls in the circle for all of its innings in the state tournament. The Wildcats will play up to three games Thursday and if they make it to Saturday, play will begin again at 10 a.m. with a possible appearance in their second straight championship at 2 p.m.