Oakman softball players celebrate after winning the Class 3A West Central Regional Tournament’s top qualifier at Bowers Park in Tuscaloosa on Friday. The Wildcats went 3-0 in the tournament, beating J.B. Pennington in their final game. Oakman will open play in the State Softball Tournament in Montgomery at 10:45 a.m. Wednesday.
By W. BRIAN HALE, Eagle Sports Writer
TUSCALOOSA — The Oakman Wildcats would not be denied their third consecutive title this season.
Overcoming long weather delays and a field of tough competitors, the Wildcats went undefeated at the West Central Regional Tournament in Tuscaloosa, capping the two-day campaign with a 3-2 victory over J.B Pennington to capture the championship plaque and top qualifier spot in next week’s AHSAA State Championship Tournament.
The Wildcats will open play at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park at 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday.
Two other local teams will finish up their regional games on Monday due to unplayable field conditions.
Cordova’s game against White Plains has been rescheduled for Monday. A Cordova win would send the Blue Devils to the state tournament as the No. 2 qualifier in Class 4A.
Sumiton Christian won its opener 15-0 over West End. The Eagles second-round game against Sand Rock was also moved to Monday.
Oakman’s showing at the regional tournament represents a remarkable turnaround for first-year coach Jordan Burson and his team, which struggled early in the season in the face of formidable opposition — but found such competition helped the Wildcats progress much faster.
“Early in the season I started to second-guess myself as we were having our struggles — we were playing a lot of 5, 6 and 7A programs, all of which were great teams. But what I think it did was prepare us for this tournament. We played some great teams this week and the weather wasn’t friendly, but these kids are unbelievable. They showed up and wanted it more,” Burson said. “We’re carrying momentum over from the county and area tournaments — it’s our ninth-consecutive win. To consider that we lost our senior night game and seemed to hit rock-bottom, I didn’t know where we’d go from there. But these girls proved they were going to turn things around.”
In the 3-2 win over J.B. Pennington, Katelyn Makemson got the seven-inning win, giving up five hits, two runs and two walks, while striking out four batters.
At the plate, Iyana Canada went 2 for 3 with two runs scored, Bailey Webb was 2 for 3, AJ Barrentine went 1 for 3 with a run scored and Savannah Brown and Shalayiah Webb both were 1 for 3.
After Oakman opened the tournament with a 6-3 win over Piedmont on Thursday, the Wildcats advanced to the winner’s bracket final with a 5-4 victory over Glencoe.
Makemson pitched six innings for the win, giving up two walks and striking out one batter. Jessy Aston pitched one inning in relief, giving up a hit.
Offensively, Barrentine went 1 for 3 with a run scored and two RBIs, Terrah Sherer was 1 for 3 with a run scored, Chante Williams went 1 for 3, Webb had a hit, Brown recorded an RBI with a run scored and Canada and Waid both scored runs.
Cordova avenged a 6-4 loss to Hokes Bluff on Thursday with a 6-1 victory on Friday, clinching a spot in the consolation final.
Raven Clark pitched seven innings in the win, giving up four hits, one run, two walks and striking out nine batters.
At the plate, Emma Hyche went 3 for 4 with a run scored, a double and two RBIs, Abby Sargent was 2 for 3 with two runs scored, Anna Key and Lillian Werling were both 2 for 3 with a run scored, Jaqulyn Braswell went 1 for 2 with an RBI, Haley Hann was 1 for 2, Clark had a double with two RBIs and Gracie Trotter recorded an RBI.
The Blue Devils opened the day with a 10-1 win over Lincoln. Clark gave up three hits, a run and recorded two strikeouts in seven innings for the victory.
Offensively, Hyche went 3 for 3 with two runs scored and a double, Clark was 3 for 3 with two runs scored, Braswell was 3 for 4 with a run scored and a double, Sargent went 3 for 4 with a run scored, Hann was 2 for 3 with two runs scored, Key went 2 for 4 and Trotter and Werling both were 1 for 3 with a run scored.
Both Lynn and Meek were eliminated from the West Regional Tournament on Friday.
Meek started the day with an 8-2 loss to eventual regional champion Appalachian. Once in the elimination bracket, the Tigers ran into county rival Lynn, which picked up a 7-0 victory.
Brenna Barton got the win for the Bears, allowing four hits while striking out six in seven innings. Gracie Jordan led the Lynn offense, going 2 for 3 with two RBIs. Sadie Tittle was 2 for 4 with a run and two RBIs, Branna Barton was 2 for 4 with two runs, Hannah Alsup and Laney Uptain were 1 for 3 with a run and an RBI.
Marion County eliminated Lynn 7-6 in its next game.
Lynn closes the season at 21-16 while Meek ends the season at 17-20-1.