Edgewood softball coach Mark Segrest expected the AISA-AA state tournament to be a challenge for his Wildcats, especially the pitching that was awaiting the reigning state champions. After falling to Autauga in the regional championship, the path looked even more difficult for Edgewood and Segrest decided to make some changes to his offense.
With runs expected to be at a premium in the state tournament, the Wildcats turned their focus to the small ball game for success. Edgewood scored nine of its 17 runs on bunt plays and stole 11 bases across four games on its way to another state title.
“I changed our lineup for this tournament and put our three fastest players at the top of the order,” Segrest said. “I thought we would need speed at the top and fortunately, that’s how it turned it out.”
Jessy Morales was moved to the top of the lineup for the first time this season and she delivered in a big way. She got six hits at the plate, including a double and a triple, while stealing four bases and scoring a team-high five runs.
Segrest put Kelley Green into the two-hole and she was often in charge moving Morales to third base for the rest of the order. She still came through with five hits and stole three bases of her own while scoring four times.
“We wanted to start off strong and get on base to let our big hitters get the job done,” Green said. “We practiced every day with bunting and coach had confidence in us. Everyone did a good job with it.”
Faith Wheat hit in the leadoff position for most of the season but was moved to third for the state tournament. Wheat missed the end of the season last year but came through for the Wildcats in one of the most crucial moments on Friday.
In a scoreless semifinal game against Clarke Prep, Wheat led off the sixth inning with a single to center. She moved all the way to third base on a sacrifice bunt from Grayson Laney.
“We work on that throughout the year,” Segrest said. “We do bunt scrimmages because you never know. Your hitting will come and go, you’re going to face some really good pitchers sometimes but that allows you to rely on another aspect of your game when you need a run.”
With Wheat on third base, Edgewood continued to turn to that part of the game to get the run it needed. Madison White put a bunt to the left side of the infield and Wheat beat the throw to the plate, pushing the Wildcats over the top in a 1-0 victory to clinch a spot in the championship game.
“We went to the small ball and got a lot of bunts down,” Segrest said. “We did the fundamental stuff we work on all the time. That’s really what propelled us for the championship.”
In the final, Edgewood got things started with a big two-run double but the Wildcats turned back to their speed for the insurance runs. They scored their final five runs of the game on infield grounders as six errors by South Choctaw helped lead Edgewood to a 7-0 win and the state title.
“It didn’t really surprise me because I knew we would have to go to it,” Segrest said. “We executed it perfectly though so maybe I was a little surprised about how successful we were with it.”