On the day the Alabama Sports Writers Association released its first softball poll last Wednesday, the No. 8 Stanhope Elmore Mustangs learned just how big that target was on their backs in a losing effort to rival Wetumpka. The Indians needed an extra-innings rally to knock off the Mustangs 3-2 in Millbrook.
“They wanted it more than we did tonight,” Mustang coach Virginia Barber said after an intense outfield discussion with her squad. “They got the hits when they needed them. They didn’t make the mistakes that we did. I thought our pitching was pretty good, but they got the clutch hits when they needed them. They just wanted it more.”
Wetumpka jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third.
Lily Gray turned on an offering and fired it at the third baseman which ricocheted off her glove. The play allowed the runner to score from third and Gray to reach first safely.
“We played our best game of the year, a complete game,” Indians coach Jimmy Reeves said.
The Mustangs answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third.
Megan Smith and Kelbi Johnson singled and scored on a McKayla Wilson drive up the middle of the diamond.
The Indians threatened in the fourth and fifth innings before finally tying the game in the seventh.
Katie Hart led off the final frame by reaching safely on her second infield single of the night. With one out, Ashlyn Campbell reached on an error and Anna Kate Norton was issued a free pass.
With bases loaded Gray came through a second time, singling to push Hart and Campbell home and give the Tribe a 3-2 lead.
“We stayed in the game. Something happened late, my leftfielder (Hart) led off two or three innings and got on and sparked the offense. My little leadoff hitter had a great game, but we played the way we were capable of playing,” Reeves said. “They’ve got a great team. And anytime you beat a team like that you’re proud. We’ve got a pretty good little team too.”
The Mustangs couldn’t answer in the bottom of the seventh, going down in order to give the Indians the area victory.
“We needed this bad,” Reeves said. “We’ve had several games like this that we couldn’t close and tonight we were able to close it out. I’m proud of the girls; we used every player we had. Every one of them came in and made a contribution.”