Not Carbon Hill.
The Lady Bulldogs are on equal footing with all 36 teams left playing in Class 3A heading into today’s North-Central Regional Tournament. Carbon Hill takes on No. 1-ranked White Plains at 3:30 p.m. from Liberty Park in Vestavia Hills.
Carbon Hill’s up-and-down season took another up swing last week as the Lady Bulldogs knocked off Cordova and Hamilton to earn the runner-up spot behind Winfield in the Class 3A, Area 11 Tournament, putting the team into the playoffs for the fourth time under head coach Wade Tittle.
“This isn’t the most talented team I’ve had, but it is the most experienced. This is the fourth time in five years that we’ve been in the playoffs,” Tittle said.
Not bad for a team that opened the season with a litany of injuries as well as some key defections.
Tittle said his team turned its season around starting with the Walker County Tournament last month.
Carbon Hill (23-22) went in as the No. 4 seed and knocked off No. 1 Cordova and No. 2 Parrish before falling to No. 3 Curry.
“I think the county tournament, more than anything, helped us. It showed us that we could beat teams like Cordova. We went into the county tournament not playing well. We had beaten some good teams, but we were inconsistent. Once we left county, we knew we could beat good teams. We went into the area tournament realizing that nothing we had done before mattered. Now we enter the regional realizing that nothing to this point has mattered,” Tittle said.
Carbon Hill has a tough regional road ahead.
Five of the eight teams in the North-Central Regional are ranked: No. 1 White Plains, No. 4 Glencoe, No. 5 Winfield, No. 7 Saks and No. 8 Susan Moore.
“Our girls won’t have any kind of intimidation factor. All but two of them have been here before. I don’t think the rankings really matter. Everybody over there is good. Class 3A is always good. We will have to play well. It still comes down to making plays, not walking batters, throwing the ball and catching the ball. If we play well, we’ll have a chance to win every game,” Tittle said.
“The first game is important. Three years ago we weren’t ranked and we played Leeds, the defending state champion, in the first game. We beat them and ended up beating them twice.”
There are five seniors on this year’s Carbon Hill team: Kelsy Alexander, Nikki Alexander, Jessica Farris, Allee Garner and Ashley Tubbs.
Today’s regional tournament is double-elimination. The top two teams advance to play in next week’s State Softball Tournament in Montgomery.
Win or lose, Carbon Hill will play its second game at 8 p.m. The winner of the Carbon Hill-White Plains game plays the winner of the Glencoe-Vinemont game. The losers also meet in an elimination game at 8 p.m.
“With the schedule we’ve played and considering the county we play in and the area we play in, we’re well prepared. Every game we’ve played in the county and in the area has been a one-run game that comes right down to the end. That’s what prepares you,” Tittle said. “At the area tournament we beat two teams that were better than us on paper. We did what it took to win. We don’t have a whole lot to lose. We’re sure to be overlooked. We know what we have to do.”