Softball teams heading to regionals in Gulf Shores Friday
Both the W.S. Neal and T.R. Miller softball teams will be heading to Gulf Shores Friday to play in the class 3A AHSAA softball south regional.
W.S. Neal is 15-12 overall while T.R. Miller is 14-13. The Lady Eagles and Lady Tigers will both play in Gulf Shores on Friday at 9:30 a.m. As area champion, W.S. Neal will meet area 2 runner-up Straughn while T.R. Miller will meet area 2 winner Opp. Opp improved to 34-6-1 Thursday with a 14-4 win over Straughn in their area championship game. Straughn fell to 19-18 overall.
With a win in their first round game Friday in Gulf Shores, W.S. Neal will meet the winner of Montgomery Catholic and Slocomb at 12:30 p.m. With a loss, W.S. Neal would meet the loser of that game at 12:30 p.m. With a win in round one, T.R. Miller would play the winner of Geneva and Pike County at 12:30 p.m. while a loss would match them with the loser of that game also at 12:30 p.m.
The tournament is double elimination with the top two teams advancing to the state tournament in Montgomery.
If the teams advance to Saturday, the winner’s bracket game will be played at 9:30 a.m. with the winner clinching the first spot to the state tournament.
Loser’s bracket games will be played at 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. with the winner of the loser’s bracket games being the second state qualifier.
Along with W.S. Neal and T.R. Miller at regionals will be Opp, Geneva, Pike County, Montgomery Catholic, Slocomb and Straughn.
For the first time in school and W.S. Neal Lady Eagle softball history, the Lady Eagles will be making an appearance at the south regionals in Gulf Shores Friday.
The Lady Eagles took first place in the area tournament last week with a 4-3 win over T.R. Miller to achieve the feat.
“I can’t begin to explain how much it means to win the area tournament,” W.S. Neal head coach Jeff Haney said. “It is a great accomplishment for our players and I’m really happy for our seniors. They have done a great job leading this team, on and off the field. I thought T.R. Miller played a great game in the final. Coach Greg White always has a tough team and our school rivalry is as big as it gets. To beat them for the area championship was very special. The regional tournament in Gulf Shores is uncharted waters to our team. We are looking forward to the experience.”
W.S. Neal is currently 15-12 and Haney said the season has been an up and down one.
“I know every team goes on streaks, but this season has been very inconsistent,” he said. “We have been very good, and very bad. Our lineup has been a constant shuffle of players. It’s nice to have talent and players that can play multiple positions, but there is also something nice about having players in the same spots on a daily basis. I guess we are just hunting that consistency of good play that I know we are capable of.”
W.S. Neal will match up with Straughn in Friday’s first game.
“I have not seen Straughn play this season, but I know that they have a quality team,” Haney said. “I know that they have some good young players, similar to our team, and are a very scrappy bunch. Having talked with some other coaches that have played them, it seems that their strengths match up with our strengths and their weaknesses match up with ours. Our pitching has been our strength all season. They hit the ball very well. That will be an interesting match up. I think the game will come down to who makes the fewest mistakes. Our goal for regionals is for the team to play to the best of our abilities. If we do this, then I think that we have a good chance of moving on to the state tournament. As long as we do our best, then I will leave there a happy coach.”
Haney said he did not know how the first ever trip to regionals would affect his team.
“We have a bunch of young girls, so I’m sure there will be some “deer in the headlights” reactions initially, but hopefully we will be able to get past that quickly and handle our business,” he said. “The key to our team doing well at regionals, is hitting. If we hit the ball, then we can play with just about anyone. Kaitlin (Hadaway) has pitched well enough for us to win every game this year. Our bats have not always cooperated obviously, and our defense has had down moments. I think we have found our defensive stride, so it is now up to the bats.”
The T.R. Miller Lady Tiger softball team will head to Gulf Shores Friday to take on the Opp Bobcats.
The Lady Tigers advanced to Gulf Shores as the area runner-up in their area tournament last week in East Brewton.
“We started off pretty bad in the area tournament but we finished a lot better,” T.R. Miller Lady Tiger head coach Greg White said. “We put ourselves in a bad situation but we were able to battle through it and give ourselves an opportunity to get to Gulf Shores. “It’s been an up and down season. A lot of changes in the line up each game and very inconsistent play. But we still have a great opportunity ahead of us in Gulf Shores. We are proud to be going to Gulf Shores.
White said Opp has a good program.
“They always have,” he said. “Coach Jimmy Reaves does a tremendous job and they will be well prepared. We need to get ourselves to day two of competition and give ourselves a chance make a run at the regional finals.
After missing the regionals last year, White said experience should help.
“We’ve been here several times,” he said. “We missed out last season and we were not happy about that. One of our goals was to get back to Gulf Shores and we’ve done that. Now we have to just go play like T.R. Miller.”
Playing like T.R. Miller is the key according to White.
“Play as a team and leave that field exhausted when the game is over,” he said. “That’s all that I can ask them to do.”