Softball teams return to basics as preseason begins

File / The Tribune Tallassee coach Pat Love was excited to get his team together on the field for the first week of practice.

There are not sports games currently happening every day but that should not stop us from remembering some of the best moments from the past. 

Since sports are a big part of the world and a big part of many people’s lives, we have decided to dedicate this section of the paper to events from the past which happened this week. Instead of dwelling on what events we have missed with the sports shutdown, we want to focus on the memorable moments that have made sports great.

Elmore County — June 6, 1999

It was a busy senior year for Benjamin Russell’s Pat Love as the three-sport athlete barely took any time off away athletics. That hard work was recognized when the Alex City Outlook awarded Love with the 1998-99 Outlook Male Athlete of the Year, the first of its kind. 

During his final year as a high school athlete, Love did his best to push the Wildcats close to the top in the state in all three sports he played. He led the football team to an appearance in the second round of the playoffs while he made the quarterfinals both as an individual on the wrestling mats and as a team on the baseball field.

“It’s a great honor; what can I say?” Love said at the time. “To be named the first ever is really great.” 

In 2017, Love was hired at Tallassee to lead the softball program. He has recorded 116 wins in his first four seasons and led the Tigers to the No. 1 ranking for the first time in program history.

State — June 5, 1999

The Alabama baseball team was riding a 12-game winning streak heading into the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament but standing in its way was LSU, which already defeated the Crimson Tide twice in the regular season. Alabama did not let the Tigers slow down its momentum as an offensive explosion pushed the Tide to an easy two-game sweep and sent them into the College World Series.

In Game 1, Alabama scored seven runs in the first inning and never looked back, winning 13-6. Jeremy Brown and Kelley Gulledge each hit home runs in the victory.

It was more of the same in Game 2 as the Crimson Tide jumped out to another 7-0 lead after four innings of play and went on to win 13-5. Future MLB player Andy Phillips hit his 22nd home run of the season and finished the game with three hits.

National — June 6, 2001

The Los Angeles Lakers were considered massive favorites in the 2001 NBA Finals and while they ended up living up to those expectations, Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers made sure it was not going to be easy. 

In Game 1, Iverson scored 30 points in the first half to give the Sixers a lead going into the break at Staples Center but the Lakers started to lock down on the league’s leading scorer using Tyronn Lue on defense. Iverson was held to 11 points in the second half, allowing the Lakers to come back and send the game into overtime.

Iverson was not going away though and scored seven consecutive points over a two-minute span to help the Sixers to a 107-101 victory. His final shot came from the corner in front of the Lakers bench as he saw his step-back jumper fall through before his iconic moment of stepping over Lue on the ground.

The Lakers went on to win the series in five games but Iverson led all players with 35.6 points per game. 

International — June 8, 2002

Before Serena Williams could take over the tennis world, there was one major hurdle for her to get over: her own sister. In the 2002 French Open, the two seemed destined to meet in the final as they were drawn on opposite sides of the bracket and both players held up their end of the bargain, dropping just one set combined on their way to the final.

Venus Williams was 5-2 against her younger sister heading into the match and she had won the only Grand Slam final matchup between the two players. Serena showed up and the match marked a changing of the guard in the women’s tennis world.

She swept the match, 7-5, 6-3, to earn her first win over her sister and her first Grand Slam title. The victory started a streak of five consecutive wins over Venus, all of them in Grand Slam finals. Serena Williams now holds the record for most Grand Slam title of all time, winning 23 finals. 

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.