May 6, 2010 2:03:00 PM
Two pitchers have helped the South Lamar High School softball team keep opponents off stride at the plate.
The Lady Stallions hope the trend continues when they play in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class A North-Central Regional Tournament.
South Lamar (31-9) opens play in the regional at 12:30 p.m. Friday against Appalachian at Liberty Park in Vestavia Hills, Ala.
South Lamar High coach Tony Seals plans to use Laken Hancock and Kendra Wilson against Appalachian.
"I''ve been doing that the last eight or 10 games," Seals said. "We''re trying to keep the other teams off balance. It''s worked well for us because they''re two different style pitchers. When they get used to one the next thing they know here comes the other one, and by the time they get used to her it''s too late."
Sulligent, Pickens County, Aliceville, and Gordo also will participate in regional action Friday.
Sulligent will play in the North-Central Regional against Sand Rock at 11 a.m. in a Class 2A game.
The other three teams will play in the South-Central Regional Tournament at the Troy Softball Complex in Troy, Ala. Pickens County will play Clay County at 11 a.m. in a Class 2A game, while Aliceville will play Marbury at 11 a.m. and Gordo will play Trinity at 11 a.m. in Class 3A games.
Hancock, who also plays shortstop, has overcome injuries and is healthy for regionals. She is getting over an ankle injury after elbow and shoulder injuries kept her out of the lineup.
"She''s going to compete at a high level," Seals said. "She''s going to compete, that''s just her nature. She''s just not 100 percent."
South Lamar won the Class A, Area 10 championship and earned a berth in the regionals despite being besieged by injuries this season. The Lady Stallions are without Taylor Maddox (broken leg), Lauren Crimm (torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee), and Blake Hardin (broken hand).
Seals feels good about his team''s chances to return to the state tournament. Last season, the Lady Stallions made it to the state championship series.
"We''re hitting the ball extremely well," Seals said. "We''re competing strongly at a very high level. We''re hitting the ball extremely well. Our pitching is very good."
n Sulligent vs. Sand Rock: The Lady Blue Devils (25-14) will look to get back on track after losing twice to Oakman to finish runner-up in the Class 2A, Area 11 Tournament.
Sulligent coach Ronnie Hubbert watched Sand Rock beat Geraldine 12-0 in the Area 12 championship game, so he knows his team will face Friday.
"They''re a really good team," Hubbert said. "They''ve got a great pitcher. They''re strong all the way one through nine. They all hit the ball well."
Montana Hawkins (22-11) will start at pitcher for Sulligent against Sand Rock.
n Pickens County vs. Clay County: The Lady Tornadoes (5-16) earned their first regional tournament berth since 2000 by finishing second to American Christian Academy in the Class 2A, Area 7 Tournament.
"It feels great," Pickens County coach Summer King said. "(The players) are excited. We''re a young team and we have something to look forward to in the future. They stepped up in tournament play. It was time to win or go home and they told me they weren''t ready to quit playing softball. They stepped up and they played ball.
"I told the girls one win in the area tournament and we''ll make the regionals. They focused on beating Hale County and they did it. We won the games that counted."
Haley Lishman will start at pitcher for Pickens County against Clay County.