WSN softball takes title
After making history Wednesday with their first ever win over T.R. Miller, the W.S. Neal Lady Eagle softball team saw history repeat itself Friday in the first game of the first-ever Escambia County tournament at JDCC and continued to make history Saturday.
W.S. Neal took down T.R. Miller 2-0 Friday and continued their history making Saturday as they defeated Flomaton 2-0 and Atmore 4-0 to sweep the county tournament and be named the first ever champions Saturday.
W.S. Neal allowed no runs in the whole tournament as they improved their winning streak to five games to improve their record to 12-9 this season.
Flomaton finished second in the tournament with a 2-1 record followed by T.R. Miller in third place with a 1-2 record and Atmore finished fourth as they were winless at 0-3.
W.S. Neal is now 12-9 overall while T.R. Miller is 14-5.
W.S. Neal started the tournament with a 2-0 over T.R. Miller and Flomaton defeated Atmore 7-2.
In games Saturday, Flomaton took down T.R. Miller 9-1 and the Lady Eagles then took down Flomaton 2-0.
T.R. Miller picked up a 7-0 win over Atmore in their final game of the day while W.S. Neal needed a win over Atmore to claim the tournament championship. Atmore had already defeated W.S. Neal twice this season, but the Lady Eagles ended that with a 4-0 win to claim the championship.
“It is really exciting getting the first championship of the Escambia County Tournament,” W.S. Neal head coach Jeff Haney said. “We have been trying to get this tournament put together now for a long time and it is great for W.S. Neal to win the first one. It will always be that way. We won the first one. That is important to our program.”
Haney said he just couldn’t say enough about how his girls played this past weekend.
“We had three shutouts,” he said. “We gave up no runs in three games against three good teams. We had a rough stretch of losing five straight here a couple of weeks ago and it kind of got in our minds. The girls didn’t quit working and they fought back and we got on a little win streak here. I think we are hitting our stride at the right time. Everything is coming around like we need it to. If we play like we have been playing, things will go our way. We have some area games coming up and I think we can do the same thing in the area tournament when that comes around.”
Haney said he thinks the two wins over T.R. Miller in three days helped his team to get the championship.
“I think the win over Miller Wednesday was a turning point,” he said. “I think that monkey has always been on our back. To beat Miller on Wednesday for the first time ever, was a big confidence boost for our team. Then we beat them Friday to open the tournament and they knew they could beat them. We knew we could beat them when we started the game. Knowing they can beat Miller, they knew they can beat anyone now. They have beaten most everyone in the past but never Miller until Wednesday. So now our confidence is coming through in everything we are doing. Our defense was better this weekend than it has been all year. We made a few errors, but they were minimal and we kept them in check. The other teams left some runners in scoring position at third base a few times, but we came through. It was scary at times bit Kaitlin did a great job and I could not be more happy.”
Assistant W.S. Neal coach and pitching coach Jason Blaney said it was big for the team to get three shut out wins.
“Kaitlin Hadaway did a fantastic job for us this week on the mound,” Blaney said. “She pitched the pitches that were called to her and she hit her spots and came up big. A couple of times, we had runners at second and third, and she never had a passed ball or a wild pitch and never let a run score. She stepped up when needed and the biggest thing was she trusted the team behind her. Also, freshman Kaeli Brown stepped up her play at catcher. It is always good for the pitcher, catcher and myself to have good communication with our signs. Communication is important. We had a lot of hits in the outfield and a lot of ground balls, but we stopped those and we are starting to gel as a team. It is a great win for her and the confidence of the team and everyone behind her too.”
In the three tournament games on the mound, Hadaway, a junior, allowed eight total hits, no runs, struck out 24, walked none and hit three batters.
“I think we finally gelled,” she said. “We are just ready for the area tournament and games now. I was more worried about helping my teammates out this week, but once we got hits, and we scored, it helped me out a lot.”
Seniors Autumn Hinote and Paige Grantham we glad to get the first county championship in their senior seasons. The two Lady Eagles came up with some big hits to help score runs in the win.
“To beat T.R. Miller twice and to win the championship, it is a nice feeling,” Hinote said. “It has been a lot of hard work. We put a lot of hear into it. I think the wins over Miller made us stronger.”
“It feels amazing to win the county tournament championship in the first year,” she said. “It is a good feeling to have as a senior. It took a lot of hard work.”
T.R. Miller Lady Tiger head coach Greg White said his team is struggling to hit the ball right now.
“It started out with three or four batters being in a slump, but right now we are all really struggling,” White said. “Against Neal we only gave up two runs and played pretty good defense behind our pitchers, but we left way too many runners on base in scoring position. We just couldn’t get the hit we needed when we needed it. Against Flomaton we were just plain bad—bad defense, bad hitting. Just plain bad. Against Atmore we got going a little better there and scored seven runs but still left people on base in several situations. We’ve just got to get back in there and get to work. Our goal is to be playing our best ball by the first week of may when the area tournament starts. We have a lot of games and practices between now and then and I’m confident that we will work through the struggles that we are having.”
On the overall tournament, White said he was excited that T.R. Miller was to be the host school of the first Escambia county softball tournament.
“I would like to thanks coach Nims and her softball team as well as the administration at JDCC for allowing us to use the softball facilities at JDCC for the tournament,” White said. “Everything was well prepared and done in a first class manner. We hope to keep this an annual tournament. Congratulations to W.S. Neal on winning the championship. They played three solid games of softball this weekend and that’s why they took the trophy home Saturday night.”
WSN 2, TRM 0
W.S. Neal scored the only two runs of the game in the third inning to defeat T.R. Miller in the first game of the county tournament Friday.
Hadaway earned the win on the mound while Taylor Guthrie took the loss.
At the plate for W.S. Neal, KeKe Floyd, Hadaway, Hinote, and Kena Ellison all had hits.
For T.R. Miller, Leah Brundidge led with a triple and a single.
“I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such a special group of young ladies,” Haney said. “The win over T.R. Miller on Wednesday was a big confidence boost for this team. That confidence showed today and we played the game expecting to win. These girls now have the confidence that they can beat any team they play, whether it be a cross-town rival or any other team on the schedule. We hit the ball hard today. Some of those balls were caught, but we were making good contact. Our hitting has really come alive in the last week or so. Kaitlin had a dominant performance today and did a good job working out of some tough spots.”
White said the hitting slump hurt his team against W.S. Neal.
“Over the last four or five games we have just not been able to get people home,” White said. “We are getting on base and in scoring position but we just can’t get the big hit when we need it. We are just in a slump right now as a team and we just have to keep playing with some toughness and pride and I’m sure we will work it out.”
FHS 9, TRM 1
Against Flomaton, T.R. Miller gave up five runs in the second inning, three in the third and one in the fourth while scoring one lone run in the fourth inning.
Laurel Billy took the loss on the mound for T.R. Miller.
At the plate, T.R. Miller was held to only one hit by Krystal Bell.
WSN 2, FHS 0
W.S. Neal got their second straight shut out and their second straight 2-0 win as they took down Flomaton 2-0 Saturday.
Hadaway allowed one hit on the mound while getting the win. W.S. Neal scored their two runs in the third inning to get the win.
At the plate for W.S. Neal, Floyd, Hadaway, Brown and Jade Danley all had hits.
TRM 7, Atmore 0
T.R. Miller picked up their lone win of the tournament in their final game as they defeated Atmore 7-0.
T.R. Miller scored three runs in the first and four runs in the fourth to get the win.
Billy earned the win on the mound.
At the plate, Guthrie, Audrey Hamric, and Kristen Booker all had hits. Booker had a homerun and a double.
WSN 4, Atmore 0
Facing off against a team that had defeated them twice already this season, W.S. Neal took down Atmore 4-0 to claim the championship.
All runs for W.S. Neal came in the third inning.
Hadaway earned the win on the mound. At the plate, Floyd had a triple while Hadaway, Brown, Anna Nelson, Grantham and Ellison all had hits.