OXFORD — What was Wetumpka High School sophomore Chloe Taylor thinking as she stepped to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning of Friday’s Class 6A softball championship game at Choccolocco Park’s signature softball stadium?
The Indians (54-6) were tied 1-all with Athens, as Taylor stepped into the batter’s box with two teams on base. Mary Beth Parette was standing on second base represented the winning run.
“I was scared,” Taylor said. “I was shaking.”
Taylor’s anxiety didn’t show. She worked the count full, fouled off a few additional pitches and then singled up the middle to score Parette with the winning run, giving Wetumpka its first state softball title since 2015.
Wetumpka players poured out of the first-base dugout and chase Parette, who sprinted towards Taylor after crossing home plate and wrapped her in a hug before both were knocked to the bottom of a huge infield dogpile.
“I got a scrape on my elbow and a scrape on my knee,” Taylor said, “but it was worth it. I loved every minute of it.”
Just a few minutes before, Taylor preserved the 1-1 deadlock with an over-the-shoulder catch in left field to thwart Athens’ eighth inning scoring threat.
“Chloe Taylor made that play in the outfield — one of the best plays I’ve seen in a long time. What a play,” Wetumpka coach Daryl Otwell said. “Then, she comes up with the walk-off (hit). You can’t write it any better for a sophomore.”
Wetumpka lost 3-0 in the opening round of the regional tournament to Baldwin County earlier this month but reeled off eight straight victories to end the season. Athens (47-11), coached by Travis Barnes, was trying to repeat as 6A stater champs.
Wetumpka pitcher and tournament MVP Mya Holt allowed just four hits and struck out six to earn the complete-game pitching victory. She also had two hits. “What a performance by her on the big stage,” Otwell said.
Athens pitcher Mya Clark took the loss, allowing eight hits and striking out two. Haley Waggoner drove in Abby Tucker in the sixth inning for the game’s first run. Waggoner finished with two of the Golden Tigers’ four hits. She had the only extra-base hit in the game, a double.
Wetumpka’s Chandler Brooks scored in the bottom of the sixth to make it 1-all, which held up through seven innings and forced the teams into an eighth frame.
Athens’ left side of the infield turned in several dazzling plays including inning-ending double play at third base to also keep the Indians from scoring to help force the game into extra innings.
Wetumpka’s Riley Dismukes also had two hits.
Class 6A All-Tournament Team: Morgan Stiles, Abby Tucker and Haley Waggoner, Athens; Ashlynn Campbell and Lily Davenport, Wetumpka; MVP – Mya Holt, Wetumpka.
Class 6A Games
Wetumpka 9, Spanish Fort 8: Due to the rain delays on Thursday, several Class 6A winner’s bracket and elimination bracket games were moved to nearby Oxford Park Friday.
Wetumpka sealed their berth in the finals with a hard-fought 9-8 win over Spanish Fort in the winner’s bracket finals. The win sent the Indians to the state championship game – and the Indians of Coach Darryl Olcott had to wait much of the day to see who the final opponent would be.
After Spanish Fort (31-14-1) plated three runs to tie the game in the top of the seventh inning, Wetumpka got an RBI-single in the bottom of the frame to get the walk-off win. Cassidy Bowers doubled to reach base and scored on Ava Farmer’s single to left field.
The Indians finished with 14 hits in the game. Mya Holt, who also got the pitching victory, was 3-for-4, including the game-winning RBI. Lily Davenport, Ashlynn Campbell, and Ella Watson finished with two hits each. Spanish Fort’s Madison Griffith was 3-for-4 for the Toros.
Athens 10, Spanish Fort 8: In a game that featured both teams combining for 18 runs and 23 hits, Athens took the lead for good with three runs in the top of the sixth inning. Athens took a 7-3 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning when Spanish Fort rallied to take its first lead.
The Toros scored five runs to go ahead 8-7 but could not hold the lead. Abby Tucker led the Golden Eagles with a 3-for-4 performance. Morgan Stiles and Mya Clark added two hits each for Athens.
Athens 12, Hazel Green 9: Athens entered the bottom of the seventh inning trailing 9-5, but scored seven runs to get the win. The game ended with a three-run walk-off home run by Haley Waggoner. Each team had 13 hits. Payton Matherne drove in five runs and finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Morgan Stiles was 3-for-4 with an RBI while Waggoner and Abby Tucker had two hits each.
Athens 15, Oxford 4 (5 innings): The Athens bats came alive for 15 runs off 13 hits in the mercy-rule win. The Golden Eagles plated runs in every inning, including a six-run third to break the game open. Haley Waggoner led the way with five RBI and a perfect 3-for-3 showing at the plate. Morgan Stiles and Kristin Kidd each went 2-for-2 while Payton Matherne was 2-for-3 and Mya Clark, 2-for-4. Oxford finished 32-12.
Hazel Green 4, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa 3: Hazel Green (31-14) overcame an early 3-0 deficit to rally for the win. Hillcrest (39-14-3) plated three runs in the bottom of the first inning before Trojans pitcher Kailey Hyatt settled in and followed with six scoreless innings.
After scoring three runs in the top of the fourth to tie the game, Hazel Green plated the go-ahead run in the top of the sixth on an RBI-single by Mackenzie Bowling. Bowling, Mariah Bazile, and Briley Zimmerman each went 2-for-3 at the plate for Hazel Green.
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