No one could tell.
Justice tossed a two-hit shutout and struck out eight against Woodland in the opener to set the tone for No. 2 Sumiton Christian, which swept its way to the state tournament for the fourth straight year.
“I said I wasn’t going to be nervous at the regional, but once I got there, I was shaking,” Justice said.
“But after the first inning I was OK. Then, in the last game, I was nervous again.”
Turns out Justice is nearly unhittable when she’s nervous.
At the regional, she threw seven innings, allowing just two hits and no runs.
The Lady Eagles outscored their opponents 46-4.
Justice and senior Cadi Oliver have picked up the slack on the mound created when Emily Ivey graduated after last season.
Ivey was the Lady Eagles’ starting pitcher each of the last three season.
“Katie’s come in and given us a different look to the team,” said senior catcher Clara Bowen, who calls pitches for the Lady Eagles.
“Emily was more of a junk ball pitcher who got you out by hitting the corners and being smart. She could hit a dime. Katie throws a lot harder. It’s been different in how we approach things.”
Justice, who transferred to Sumiton Christian from Curry, is one of three new starters this season along with Kirsten Click in right field as well as Kendall Beth Sides at first base.
“Katie’s fit right in,” Sumiton Christian Jessica Aderholt said.
“She’s been very vital with her pitching and defense. I think she came in and made good relationships with girls on the team.”
“I love it here,” said Justice, who pitched for Curry’s JV team last season.
“Ever since I’ve been here it’s been really fun. These girls are like my sisters.”
One of her teammates is her sister. Alison Justice, an 8th-grader, also made the move to Sumiton Christian this season and is on the team.
Sumiton Christian (49-15) opens play in the state tournament at 9 a.m. today against Houston Academy at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park.
The toughest part for Justice has been waiting for Friday to arrive.
“It seems like this week has gone by really slow. I just wish it was already here,” Justice said.
“I had never been past area. It’s been a big change. I think we’ll do really good. We came together here lately and everybody’s hitting. I’m sure everything will turn out the way it’s supposed to.”
Sumiton Christian’s opponents beware: Justice said she may be a little nervous.
“I’m excited, but I’m nervous. It hit me this week,” Justice said.
The Lady Eagles are four wins away from a state title. A win at 9 a.m.
Friday would pit Sumiton Christian vs. the winner of the No. 8 Leroy vs. No. 10 Lexington game at 4 p.m.
The winner’s bracket final is set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
On the opposite side of the bracket, No. 4 American Christian plays No. 6 Mobile Christian at 9 a.m. Friday and No. 1 Hatton, last year’s 2A state champion, faces Goshen at 10:30 a.m.