Story by Griffin Pritchard | Publisher
Photos by Sandie Free | CAScoreboard Photographer
CENTRAL ALABAMA SCOREBOARD OFFICE – There will be teams playing this weekend in Wetumpka that will be in Oxford in May battling for a state championship. The Central Alabama Scoreboard Classic II hosted by Wetumpka High kicked off Thursday afternoon with a handful of games: Wetumpka tangled with Foley while Tallassee went toe-to-toe with the Toros of Spanish Fort. Pool play – for everyone – kicks off Friday afternoon and will feature 31 teams jockeying for position both at the Wetumpka Sportsplex and the Wetumpka High Softball field.
“We are playing pretty decent softball right now,” said Daryl Ottwell, coach of the host Indians. “Currently we are 10-3 on the season. We still have a lot of improvement to do. This weekend will be a great opportunity for us to do so.”
The Indians are in Pool A with Weaver, Southside-Gadsden and WS Neal.
“I’m excited to play some teams out of the North Area, being from Hokes Bluff,” said Ottwell. “I’m very excited to play some teams I haven’t seen play since high school.”
And that’s what makes this tournament so unique; the number of teams coming to town from outside the realm of usual suspects.
Fairhope, Colbert County, Lawrence County, Russellville, Vestavia Hills, Mobile Christian, Munford, Bibb County, and Dallas County are all part of this weekend’s tournament and two are in very competitive Pools.
With the teams competing this weekend – it’s anyone’s to win.
“I don’t think there is one particular team to beat,” said Brian Pittman, first-year coach of the Prattville High Lions. “There are a lot of teams that could win this tournament. This is one of the most competitive tournaments we play in all year, so it’s wide open.”
Here’s how the Pools shake out, starting with B:
Pool B: Prattville / Rehobeth / Dadeville / Russellville
Pool C: Fairhope / Stanhope Elmore / Prattville Christian / Colbert County
Pool D: Vestavia Hills / Alabama Christian / Spanish Fort / Chilton County
“Our pool is pretty strong,” said Chilton County Coach Johnny Giles. “We are playing very inconsistent as expected with Ty Williams and (University of Alabama commit) Marlie (Giles) both out. It’s hard to replace those two.
Pool E: Elmore County / Beulah / Montgomery Catholic / Lawrence County
“We play Lawrence County in the first game, and I don’t really know much about them. But I’ve heard they are usually pretty good,” said Whitney Toole, coach of the Montgomery Catholic Knights. “We also have Beulah and Elmore County in our pool and they are both very good.”
Pool F: LAMP / Calera / Tallassee / Bibb County
Pool G: Jeff Davis / Mobile Christian / Munford / Benjamin Russell
Pool H: Dallas County / Foley / Marbury
While some of the coaches are saying the field is wide open, others are predicting Tallassee to make the run. Some have stepped up and said Fairhope or Beulah could be the last team standing Saturday night.
“Beulah has one of the best pitchers in the state, so that’s not an easy draw,” said Mark Segrest, coach of the Elmore County Panthers. “We don’t have a lot of pitching depth so the main focus is go play some good competition and get some good reps this weekend.”
The Panthers – who join a handful of teams with state tournament credentials from a season ago – bring some heavy hitters to the park. In a two-game sweep of Alabama Christian Aubrey Allen – the Alabama State signee – worked eight innings of two hit softball fanning 17. Offensively, McKenzie Owens (batting . 625 in that series) and Madelyn Becker (batting .667 for the series) are poised to deal pitchers fts.
Segrest: “We seem to be playing pretty well overall, even though it’s early.”
State tournament teams from a year ago are: (3A) Mobile Christian, Beulah and PCA; (4A) LAMP; (5A) Tallassee; (6A) Spanish Fort and Chilton County; (7A) Fairhope and Vestavia.
Beulah – who has been on a tear to start 2022 – is led by Abrianna Green (Columbus State) and pitcher Katie Morris (0.17 ERA with 64 strikeouts through the first part of the season).
But she’s not the only pitcher to watch. Kaytie Chandler (Prattville) struck out nine in a 5-2 win over Auburn; hit a home run and worked a complete game in the Lion’s 7-1 win over Valley.
“I like the way we’re playing right now,” said Pittman. “Our pitching has been really good and we are starting to swing the bats better; but we’ve still got a lot of room to grow.”
Izzy Warrick – part of the reason for ACA’s run to Oxford last season – has picked up where she left off, working 25 innings with 3 wins and 36 strikeouts. She’s been doing damage at the plate (1.225 on-base plus slugging with four RBIs. Annabelle Pugh has also stepped up for the Eagles, batting .375 with a .962 OPS and a .524 OBP (on-base-percentage).
ACA’s biggest rival in the Capital City Conference, Montgomery Catholic, comes into the weekend on the heels of a passed-ball win over the Eagles. Hannah Smith has been the leading Knight so far. Through six games, she’s 8-of-17 from the plate with a pair of doubles, a pair of singles and four home runs including the no-doubter that sealed Catholic’s win over Stanhope Elmore.
Toole: “We are playing ok right now. We are young and getting better each day and that’s our goal: to get a little bit better every day. I think all the teams in this tournament will be good. We are excited to see good pitching and good competition.”
Following pool play Saturday morning the teams will be sorted into a single-elimination tournament.”
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