Stanhope Elmore entered last week’s softball game at Wetumpka needing a win in the final area regular season game to level the two team’s records in Class 6A Area 5. Stanhope jumped out to an early lead and got some big insurance runs, including five runs in the seventh inning to defeat Wetumpka 8-0.
“We’ve been working hard for four years so we had a lot to fight for today,” Stanhope coach Virginia Barber said. “But it wasn’t anything to do with Wetumpka; we wanted to fight for ourselves. We needed to get better and we did that.”
The Mustangs (14-15, 3-1) got the scoring started in the first inning with a sac fly from Mckayla Wilson. She just missed out on her first homer of the season but added another RBI in the third inning when she knocked in Kelbi Johnson on another sac fly.
Wetumpka (10-9, 3-1) had chances to respond to Stanhope’s early lead but Neci King stranded five runners in scoring position throughout the game. The Indians had two on with one out in the first inning but two consecutive strikeouts from King helped her settle into the game.
“We knew from the beginning we would have to play a little bit of small ball,” Barber said. “We did that to score those first runs and that allowed us to start swinging away. That gave us a little bit of confidence.”
In the top of the fifth inning, Stanhope appeared to add another run on the first homer of the season for catcher Megan Smith. However, after deliberation by the umpires, it was determined the ball hit the fence below the yellow line and Smith was sent back to second with a double.
While the run was momentarily taken off the board, Smith ended up scoring on an RBI grounder by Johnson to put the Mustangs ahead 3-0. And while that would be enough for the win, Stanhope’s offense was not finished.
In the seventh inning, Smith doubled again to put two runners in scoring position with one out. The Mustangs followed with four straight RBI singles, one each from Rikki McAdams, Johnson, King and Wilson.
“Our pitcher just ran out of gas,” Wetumpka coach Jimmy Reeves said. “I thought she pitched well enough to win but we didn’t back her up when she needed it.”
With the two teams tied on top of the area standings, the host of the area tournament will now be decided by a flip of a coin. Wetumpka still has two regular season games remaining, plus a tournament in Andalusia this weekend.
“You see what kind of team you are now,” Reeves said. “If we want to build as a team and as a family, we’ll pull each other through it. We just all had a bad day on the same day but I know our kids will be ready next time we get ready to play.”
After hosting a tournament last weekend, Stanhope has five games remaining on its regular season schedule. The Mustangs may not know where they will start postseason play but they are expecting to meet Wetumpka again and Barber continues to push her team to be ready for it.
“We want to take it out of them but you can’t put anything past a Wetumpka team,” Barber said. “Coach Reeves has done great with those girls but I had already told our team today that we weren’t going to be hitting the breaks at all. We were going all gas today and we got on top.”