Story by Griffin Pritchard | Publisher
Photos by Brian Tannehill | Director of Photography
CHOCCOLOCCO PARK — The Tallassee High Softball Program has been building to this moment for years; a berth into the state softball tournament. They won the area in the regular season and then survived the area tournament to win it too. The Tigers outlasted a heaping helping of competition in the regional tournament to add it’s championship trophy to their collection and punched their ticket to the 5A State Tournament. This ticket, a long time coming, should have been punched last season had “two weeks to flatten the Covid curve” not turned into the world shutting everything down. But, nonetheless, Tallassee High School – the No. 2 team in 5A according to the Alabama State Sportswriters for the entirety of the season – had a seat at the table.
It didn’t take them long to realize just how wobbly that seat was as Tallassee dropped the first game of the day, a 6-5 decision to Ardmore, and then was unable to regain balance losing 3-2 to Alexandria in extra innings. The Tigers weebled and wobbled and, after 15 innings of championship level softball, fell from the metaphorical table and out of the state tournament.
“We had great senior leadership,” said Pat Love, coach of the Tigers. “You know, the expectations have been set for where this program needs to be from here on out. Every year, this program needs to be right here. That’s where our expectations need to be. We made it for the first time ever, from here on out it’s going to be every year. This is where we want to be.”
State Tournament Recap: Ardmore 6, Tallassee 5
The Tallassee High Tigers found themselves down early and then Avary Lumpkin changed that with a swing of the bat, driving an Adrmore offering into the outfield and clearing the bases. It was the Ardmore High Lions that were able to survive and advance, defeating the Tigers 6-5 and moving on to play Faith in Round 2. Tallassee faces Alexandria in the first round of Knockout Games.
Tallassee pushed ahead 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth but fell behind 4-3 in the next inning.
Chloe Davidson evened the game with a single that scored CoCo Baynes . The Half-Tennessee, Half-Alabama Lions (Ardmore sits in both states) plated two in the seventh to go up 6-4 taking advantage of a Tigers error covering a bunt and then a sacrifice fly to the outfield.
In the bottom of the seventh, Baynes and Davidson singled and were moved into scoring position on a sacrifice. Another sacrifice pushed a run home. But ultimately, Tallassee was unable to drive home the second, flying out to the infield for the third out.
State Tournament Recap: Alexandria 3, Tallassee 2 (8 innings)
Stinging from that first loss, the Tallassee High Tigers found themselves on the short end of the scoreboard trailing the Alexandria High Valley Cubs (who lost to No. 1 Faith 3-1 in the opening round) 1-0. Tallassee clawed their way back into the catfight by scoring two in the fifth and tying the game. Avary Lumpkin reached on an error. Ella Thrash also reaches on an error that moves her to second and pushes Reagan Easterwood (running for lumpkin) to third. CoCo Baynes turns on a pitch and drives it into the outfield clearing the bases and putting Tallassee up 2-1.
Alexandria answers in the bottom and ties the game.
The 2-2 stalemate stands firm until the eighth.
Ultimately though, it was the Valley Cubs who came out swinging. Rylee Gattis singled and then scored on an Addie Jennings triple to the fence in rightfield.
That was it for the Tigers. The Walk-Off-Winner sent Alexandria on to a next-round showdown with Elmore County (who dropped a 4-3 decision to Satsuma) and Tallassee on the road home.
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