May 12, 2010 9:16:00 AM
The South Lamar High School softball team will get another chance to win a state championship after finishing runner-up last season.
South Lamar has earned a berth in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class A State Tournament for the second year in a row after losing to Speake in last year''s championship game.
The Lady Stallions (34-11) earned a berth in the state tournament by finishing runner-up to Ragland in the North Central Regional Tournament at Vestavia Hills, Ala., this past Saturday.
South Lamar''s opening game is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday against Pleasant Home at Lagoon Park in Montgomery, Ala.
It''s the fourth time during Tony Seals'' five-year coaching tenure for the Lady Stallions to make it to the state tournament.
"It''s like any coach will tell you, if you have good players the players will make you look good," Seals said. "I can''t take all of the credit. I''ve got great kids who work hard and want to do well for themselves. I''m proud for them."
The other first round games are Lynn against Sweet Water, Maplesville against Waterloo and Ariton against Ragland.
The state tournament is double elimination and South Lamar will play either the winner or loser of Lynn and Sweet Water at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
The championship game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday.
South Lamar won four games and lost two at the North Central Regional Tournament. The Lady Stallions shut out Appalachian 16-0 and lost to Ragland 11-3 on Friday, and then beat Jefferson Christian 2-0, Spring Garden 3-1 and Parrish 3-2 before losing to Ragland 12-0 on Saturday.
"We hit the ball well," Seals said. "My top four hitters, actually my top five hitters, had key hits in key games. We had key hits in every game from Laken (Hancock) to Karoline (Holsonback) to Kacy (Holsonback) to Sam Trull to Jessica Wheat."
Pleasant Home, which is in Andalusia, Ala., went undefeated in the South Regional Tournament to earn a berth in the state tournament. The Lady Eagles beat Ariton 5-1, Fruitdale 14-2, Kinston 1-0 and Ariton 8-2.
"I saw them play last year and they had only three seniors," Seals said. "They run the bases well. They had a few slap hitters. They will use three different pitchers a game to try to keep you off balance. They don''t have any dominating pitchers as far as speed, but they''ve got good pitchers. They try to keep you off balance where you don''t see the same pitch too many times."
South Lamar has made it to the state tournament despite a rash of injuries this season. Hancock and Kendra Wilson are pitching again after suffering injuries, while the Lady Stallions are without Taylor Maddox (broken leg), Lauren Crimm (torn anterior cruciate ligament) and Blake Hardin (broken hand).
To add to that, third baseman and cleanup hitter Sam Trull spained her ankle during the North Central Regional Tournament. Seals said Trull suffered a mild sprain and it expected to play Thursday.
"The girls are excited (about making state), especially with all of the adversity we''ve gone through this year as far as the injuries," Seals said. "It''s just been one thing after another this year, but we always seem to regroup and gather ourselves and keep winning. I think that speaks a lot about our character and our heart. You can''t coach that stuff. I''ve got a good group of girls who wanted to get back (to state) and get a chance at it again."
Three other West Alabama came up short of making it to the state tournament by being eliminated in regionals.
In the Class 3A South Central Regional Tournament at Troy, Ala., Aliceville lost 9-0 to Marbury and 7-2 to B.B. Comer.
In the Class 2A South Central Regional at Troy, Pickens County beat Clay County 2-0 before losing 10-0 to Goshen and 15-6 to Horseshoe Bend.
In the Class 2A North Central Regional at Vestavia Hills, Sulligent beat Sand Rock 12-1 and lost 5-4 to Woodland and 5-2 to Geraldine.