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Spanish Fort falters in 6A opener, knocked out by Helena

Story and Photos by Griffin Pritchard | Publisher

CHOCCOLOCCO PARK — A five-run first was too much of a deficit for the Spanish Fort High Toros to overcome on the first day of 6A Softball action at the AHSAA State Tournament in Oxford. That gut punch, as Toros’ Coach Lauren Stewart called it, proved tough to overcome as Spanish Fort dropped their second game to Helena, giving up four runs in the seventh. 

Stewart: “I think we had a really great attitude to start the day. We just couldn’t get it done offensively.”

The MJHS Blue Devils touched up Toros pitcher Hannah Atwood in the first two innings for six runs (three earned) and six hits before being replaced by state strikeout leader Ainsley Lambert (nine k’s over five innings of work). 

Mikayla McCain and Skylar Johnson plated a collective five Blue Devils. Ainsley Grimes also joined the Kimberly, Alabama hit parade, plating a run. 

Haley Hart, Megan Wood and Madison Casstevens combined for the five Toros hits. Hart – who tripled – scored the lone Spanish Fort run. 

Stewart: “They understood (after that first game) that we are going to have to hit with the best of them and they didn’t do that.” 

In the elimination round,  the No. 2 Helena High Huskies (3-0 losers to Hazel Green in the opening round) played the No. 3 Toros to a 0-0 stalemate into the seventh of Friday’s elimination affair. 

Sara Ezekiel and Alexandria Erwin scored runs on back-to-back sacrifice plays to put the Huskies up 2-0. Camryn Bailey put a Lambert offering over the fence to push ahead 4-0. 

In the bottom of the inning, the Toros quickly put up two outs. Haley Hart tagged a Bailey pitch for a double breathing life into the Spanish Fort dugout. The hope was short-lived though as Madison Casstevens grounded out to short for the third out.

“This is such a special team,” Stewart said after the game. “And I know that’s a cliche thing to say, but with this team they really are special. We have veterans and middle school kids that start too; so we’re all one big happy family. But we understand that (the state tournament) didn’t go the way we hoped or but at the end of the day – this is the same bunch we showed up and I am proud of the way we played this season.” 

Helena advanced to face Athens (who defeated Chilton County and then lost to Springville). 

The focus for the Toros turns to 2022. 

Stewart: “That’s difficult to look forward to, especially after today. But we have a lot of experienced returners and we have a lot of super talented young kids that I’m excited about.”

Founder/Publisher of Central Alabama Scoreboard. Former sportsguy, managing editor, currently working for the City of Tallassee as a Public Information Specialist and grant writer.

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