The Blue Devils not only passed — they exceeded even coach Randy Stracner’s expectations.
“Most of the time, when we go up there, every team is pretty good. You aren’t going to play an easy game. We go up there to play good competition,” Stracner said. “If we win games and advance, that’s just icing on the cake.”
Cordova didn’t advance just once, they kept advancing — going through three straight top 10 teams before bowing out to Sparkman in the championship game.
“What was so gratifying to me was that in every game, it was a different player stepping up and making a big play. Defensively, we were not only making the routine plays, we were making the tough plays. Plus, Faith (Sims) was unbelievable all weekend. That last day she pitched five games. She was exhausted, but still fighting.”
Sims, Cordova’s ace pitcher, went all 44 innings in the tournament, allowing nine earned runs on 26 hits and 14 walks. She struck out 54 batters.
“She was just unbelievable. To face all of those teams like that in a row and to be able to have the success that she did — not many pitchers can do that. I’m very proud of her,” Stracner said.
In the championship game, Cordova took an early 2-0 lead over Sparkman. The Senators grabbed a 3-2 lead only to have the Blue Devils tie the game at 3-3. Sparkman finally took the lead for good in the sixth inning.
Sims took the loss, giving up six runs, three earned, on seven hits and a walk. She struck out six Sparkman batters.
At the plate, Maggie Benson was 2 for 3 with two runs, Sims was 2 for 3 with two RBIs and Kaitlyn Herron was 2 for 3 with an RBI.
Cordova, ranked No. 6 in Class 3A, went 6-1 in the tournament, winning four games by one run. The Blue Devils beat No. 10 Athens (3-2), Assumption, Kent. (4-0), James Clemens (2-1), No. 4 Pelham (7-6), No. 5 Mortimer Jordan 2-0, and No. 6 Huntsville (4-3).
“This is what I’ve been waiting on,” Stracner said. “I knew we could get to this point. Over the last couple of years we’ve had times where we’ve played pretty good, but we haven’t taken it to the next level. Right now, we are. I hope we can keep that rolling into the area tournament. As well as we are playing, I still don’t think we have peaked. That’s what I’m excited about.”
In the tournament opener vs. Athens, Sims tossed a three-hitter while striking out six.
At the plate, Chasity Kilpatric was 1 for 2 with a run and an RBI, Ansley Ardoin was 1 for 2 with a run, Hannah Ingram was 2 for 3 and Benson was 1 for 3 with an RBI.
In Cordova’s 4-0 win over Assumption, Sims struck out 10 while allowing three hits in six innings. Ingram was 2 for 3 with a pair of RBIs, Herron was 2 for 3 with an RBI, Maggie Benson was 2 for 3 and both Ardoin and Hanna McLemore were 1 for 2.
Kilpatric delivered the game-winning hit in each of the next two games.
She had a walk-off single in Cordova’s 2-1 win over James Clemens. Sims got the win, allowing two hits and striking out 10 in five innings. Ardoin was 2 for 3 with an RBI, Benson was 2 for 3, both Herron and Kilpatrick were 1 for 2 and Kilpatric finished 1 for 3 with an RBI.
Kilpatric had another walk-off single in the Blue Devils’ 7-6 win over Pelham in 10 innings. She finished the game 3 for 5 with an RBI. Sims went all 10 innings, allowing six hits and striking out 14
Ingram was 2 for 5 with a run and two RBIs, McLemore was 2 for 5 with a run and an RBI, Herron was 2 for 5 with a run, Ardoin was 1 for 4 with a run and two RBIs and Sims was 2 for 3.
Against Mortimer Jordan, Sims gave up three hits and struck out five in six innings. Ingram accounted for the Blue Devils’ runs, belting a two-run home run. She went 1 for 3 in the game while McLemore was 1 for 3 with a double and a run.
Cordova pulled out another narrow win over Huntsville. Sims gave up two hits and struck out three in five innings.
Benson was 1 for 2 with two RBIs, Kara Hall was 1 for 1 with a double and a run while both Morgan Martin and Ingram were 1 for 2 with a run.
Cordova (21-11-1) has won 19 of its last 25 games. The Blue Devils went 6-1 in the Gulf Shores Tournament two weeks ago.
Over the past week, seven of Cordova’s nine games have come against opponents ranked in either Class 5A or 6A.
Stracner said Cordova’s lopsided loss to Hayden, the defending Class 5A champ, last week could have put the Blue Devils on the right track.
“After the game, the girls were embarrassed. I hope that was the turning point. That Thursday, we beat Cullman and we had a great tournament this weekend,” he added.
Cordova looks to stay hot with a game at Northside today at 4:30 p.m.