Story by Griffin Pritchard | Publisher
Photos by Brian Tannehill | Director of Photography
CHOCCOLOCCO PARK — Appalachian High rallied late to knock off Pleasant Home and No. 7 Holy Spirit but against No. 1 Brantley in the championship semifinal, the Eagles’ wings were clipped sending them to the elimination bracket to start the second day of the AHSAA 1A State Softball Championship Tournament.
“Overall, we’re so very proud of our girls today,” said coach Dusty Dean, coach of the Eagles. “First off for making school history by playing in the winners bracket finals. They fought hard our first two games and made some big plays when we needed them. Ashley ‘Pedro’ Maddox absolutely pitched her heart out today, which we knew she would. Our seniors Jordan Henderson, Zoe Payne and Taylor Woodard all answered at the plate and with their leadership as well. We fell short our third game against Brantley, who is a very strong team, but I know our girls will step up, regroup and play for the big trophy tomorrow.”
In this tournament – if there was an ideal time to drop a game – the championship semifinal was that spot in the bracket as the No. 4 Eagles fall into the elimination bracket and will meet the winner of the No. 2 South Lamar / No. 3 Skyline later this afternoon at 12:30 with a spot in the championship game on the line for the winner.
State Tournament Recap: No. 4 Appalachian 7, Pleasant Home 5
Coming into Tuesday’s tournament opener, coaches suggested that 1A could be more competitive than in year’s past and after the first few innings the rumors were true as Pleasant Home jumped on Appalachian 3-1 going into the bottom of the third.
Then the Eagles took flight and plated five runs to blow the game open.
Zoe Payne homered to bring a flock of Eagles back to the nest and put Appalachian up 4-3. Kaylan Martin and Sophie Latta also scored, moving the mark to 6-3.
The Eagles added another run in the fourth, pushing ahead 7-3. Pleasant Home though, continued to battle and moved the mark to 7-5 with a pair of runs in the fourth and the fifth.
State Tournament Recap: No. 4 Appalachian 4, No. 7 Holy Spirit Catholic 2
For the second time in as many games, the No. 4 Appalachian High Eagles found themselves grounded early. The Saints marched one home in the first and then in the third to take a 2-0 lead. The Eagles – again – spread their wings. Jordan Henderson singled in the fourth to score Zoe Payne and cut the deficit in half. Appalachian put the game away in the fifth with a three-run rally.
Payne doubled scoring Taylor Woodard and tying the game at 2-2.
Henderson – the next batter – bounced an Alyssa Faircloth offering off the bottom of the scoreboard to put the Eagles up 4-2 proving to be the final mark.
Ashley Maddox picked up the win for the Eagles, working a complete game with six strikeouts. Faircloth – who also went the distance – was saddled with the loss striking out 11.
State Tournament Recap: No. 1 Brantley 7, No. 4 Appalchian 2
The Eagles flew into the championship semifinal with two wins underneath their wings and jumped on top-ranked Brantley in the first inning. Stormy Stidham and Zoe Payne scored on an error to put the Eagles up 2-0. That was it in terms of scoring for Appalachian. The rest belonged to Brantley as they, of the signature green jerseys, rattled off seven runs (one in the second, three in the third and three more insurance runs in the seventh) to punch their ticket as the first 1A team to play for a state championship in the Signature Stadium.
The trio of aforementioned senior Eagles – Zoe Payne, Taylor Woodard and Jordan Henderson – accounted for three Appalachian hits in the loss.
Ashley Maddox took the loss, working a complete game with five strikeouts.
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