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W.S. Neal coach wants change in track, softball postseason schedule

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
Forget the fact he had to coach two postseason sporting events in two different towns on the same day.
W.S. Neal softball and track coach Shane Smothers hopes the Alabama High School Athletic Association will move the Area round of softball postseason away from the same weekend of the state track meet.
"There are a lot of girls who do both sports and too often they have to choose one or another when postseason arrives. This (the postseason) is what they work for all season," Smothers said.
One such individual was W.S. Neal junior Brittany Tagudar. Tagudar was a member of W.S. Neal's state qualifying 3200 meter relay team as well as a member of the Lady Blue Eagles softball team.
The 3200 meter relay team was scheduled to compete at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Troy State University, the same time her softball team was involved in the Class 3A Area Tournament held in Brewton. Tagudar chose to compete in softball.
The time schedule allowed a couple of other W.S. Neal girls to compete in both sports. Abbie Howard was able to compete in the state discus and shot put competition Friday. The shot put was held at 12:30 p.m. followed by the discus at 1:30 p.m. By the time Howard had her throws in, she still had time to make the two-hour drive from Troy to Brewton for her team's 5 p.m. softball game.
"Abbie was able to do both, but she was really tired by the time she got to the softball. She is usually our pitcher, but we let her play first base in the first game (against T.R. Miller). That gave her a chance to rest her arm just a little bit before we had her pitch against Clarke County in the second game," Smothers said.
Meanwhile Brittani Moton's javelin throw competition began Friday at 9:30 a.m. and finished in plenty of time for her to get to the softball tournament.
"Softball was the last sporting event to begin its postseason. Some sports like baseball and tennis started their postseason the week before. Maybe we should move up softball a week to avoid conflicts for the athletes who do more than one sport," Smothers said.
It was a season of somewhat mixed results for the W.S. Neal softball team.
During their first seven games the Lady Blue Eagles picked up their first ever win (on the field) against McKenzie. They dropped a one-run contest at Monroe County and took a strong Jay (Fla.) squad down to the wire in a 10-6 setback.
The season took a downhill spin when the Lady Blue Eagles were idle for 13 days and played just one game in a 20-day span. Not only did W.S. Neal respond with losses in its final four games, it was outscored 53-1, had just six hits and made 22 errors.
W.S. Neal played just nine games during the regular season and 11 overall.
"The break really hurt us. Nine regular season games just isn't enough. We've got to do a better job of getting more games on the schedule next season," W.S. Neal coach Shane Smothers said.
Not a bad number three: It had to be a comforting luxury for T.R. Miller softball coach Jamie Riggs to be able to use junior Leigh Cooper as his "number three" pitcher in Friday's Area 1 Tournament opener against W.S. Neal.
Cooper responded with a one-hitter and had a no-hitter going with two outs left in the game.
"Leigh is normally our shortstop and we need her there, but she can pitch and do a good job if we need her. I've got a lot of confidence in her if we need to use her. We've got some pitching options with Leigh, Rebekah (Neal) and Halie (Ellis)," Riggs said.
If T.R. Miller won its sub-state round against Abbeville Tuesday, it will play the winner of Montgomery Catholic and LAMP Saturday in a second sub-state series. The winner will advance to the state
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tournament.
T.R. Miller would host Montgomery Catholic, but would travel to LAMP if it advances.
Here is a tip of the cap to the grounds crew for the work they did at the Brewton YMCA Park Field Friday.
Heavy rain Thursday and steady rain most of Friday made preparation for the Area 1 Tournament extremely difficult, but their persistence and hard work helped the tournament be completed as scheduled.