There was not a clear favorite entering the AISA-AA softball state tournament Thursday but Edgewood was clearly the best team over the two-day event.
The Wildcats finished off their second consecutive state title with a 7-0 win over South Choctaw on Friday afternoon with Mary Michael Burnham picking up her fourth win in two days.
“We knew a lot was riding on us,” Burnham said. “We had a target on our backs because we won it last year but we knew we just had to play our game and we’d be fine.”
The Wildcats (47-17) had the two seed from Region 1 after losing the region championship to Autauga but they did not drop another game for the rest of the season. Burnham helped make sure of that, pitching every inning of the Wildcats’ run.
“She gave us exactly what we needed at the right time,” Edgewood coach Mark Segrest said. “With the way she spots the ball, she’s got the best changeup in the state regardless of classification. When you’re throwing that for a strike, nothing is going to surprise me.”
Burnham allowed just one run across 28 innings and finished the year with a 23-inning scoreless streak. She struck out 25 batters and allowed just 10 hits on her way to earning the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.
Edgewood opened play Friday against Clarke Prep. Burnham allowed just three baserunners, two on errors, while pitching a no-hitter to lead the Wildcats to a 1-0 win and sending them to the championship.
“If she’s not the league MVP, I don’t know who is,” Segrest said. “She’s worked at it and has had a dominant year for us. I could not be prouder of her.”
In the final, Burnham saw her hitless innings streak come to an end when South Choctaw got a single in the opening inning. Burnham responded with retiring eight consecutive batters.
By the time the Rebels recorded another hit, the Wildcats provided a little bit more support at the plate. After starting the inning with two groundouts to third, the Wildcats looked to the bottom third of their order to start a rally.
Haylee Brown, who was the MVP of the 2018 state tournament, singled to center and moved to third when Emmy Brothers reached on an error. Anna Catherine Segrest knocked both of them in with a two-out double and came around to score on an infield grounder from Kelley Green to put Edgewood ahead 3-0.
Edgewood looked to play small ball after that, scoring its next four runs on two bunts and two infield grounders. Grayson Laney, Jessy Morales, Madison White were named to the all-tournament team along with Burnham.
“I was just so proud of these girls for being able to do it back to back,” Segrest said. “It says so much about the work they have put in. I just think we played our best ball at the end of the year.”
Segrest said this was his final year as the program’s coach but he’s going out with a pretty good record. In two seasons at Edgewood, Segrest helped the Wildcats to a 90-35 record while securing their seventh and eighth state title.