HISTORY MADE Lady Golden Tigers head to state tourney
For the first time ever in school history the Russellville Lady Golden Tigers earned a trip to the softball state tournament in Montgomery.
The Lady Golden Tigers, who have never advanced even to the regional tournament, will now be one of the eight teams in Class 5A playing for a state title at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park. RHS will play at 9 a.m. May 18 against South-Central Regional Champion Marbury. The tournament will be double elimination.
“The girls have held true to the course,” said Coach John Smith. They have followed his advice this season: “Don’t worry if you just made an error or just made an out. You’ve got to have a short memory and come back and make the next play or get the big hit.”
Friday night the girls did everything they could as they rallied past Ardmore 7-6 to finish second at the North Regional Tournament and clinch their first-ever state tournament berth. The Lady Golden Tigers held on for a heart-throbbing 15-10 win over Madison County in the tournament opener Thursday, thanks to big help from senior outfielder Megan Brockway, who capped off a ten-run fourth inning with a grand slam, fifth home run of the season and would hold off a late game rally to beat Madison County in a first-round game in Huntsville Thursday morning.
Russellville (36-17) had 20 big hits in its regional game and met with Area 16 champion East Limestone in a winner’s bracket semifinal later that day.
“We swung the bats well, especially early in the game,” Smith said. “Then we just held on. It wasn’t pretty, but it doesn’t have to be pretty, as long as you win.”
Madison County rallied for five runs in the bottom of the fourth and then four more in the fifth, climbing all the way back to within five at 14-9.
George provided a run for Russellville in the top of the sixth with an RBI single, and then Madison County answered with a run in the bottom half to make it 15-10, but that wasn’t enough, as the Golden Tigers would hold on to win.
Brockway finished 2-for-5 with five RBIs and two runs scored. She was one of seven Lady Golden Tigers with multiple hits. Daniel went 2-for-6 with a double and two runs, and Moore was 3-for-5 with a double, an RBI and two runs. Guzman and Suggs each went 3-for-5, and George was 2-for-5 with a double, three RBIs and two runs scored.
Cochran was 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run, and Holt and Borden added one hit apiece. Madison Lamon scored twice, and Jasmine Galloway stole two bases and scored a run.
Suggs (27-11) earned the win, allowing four earned runs on eight hits in six innings. She struck out four and did not issue a walk.
Karlie Moore had four hits for Russellville Friday morning, including a go-ahead RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning, as the Lady Golden Tigers rallied to beat East Limestone 6-4 and move one step closer to a Class 5A North Regional championship. Russellville (38-18) rallied from a late four-run deficit to beat East Limestone 6-4 and earned a date with Etowah in the Regional Final. The Lady Golden Tigers lost that game 10-1, setting up the win-or-go-home game with Ardmore in the finals of the loser’s bracket.
After jumping out to a 1-0 lead on Jess Guzman’s RBI double in the bottom of the first, Ardmore answered back with two runs in the second and two more in the third to grab a 4-1 lead.
Singles from Whitfield, Lily Holt, Brooke Borden and Kalli Beth Daniel in the bottom of the fourth helped the Lady Golden Tigers score twice and cut the lead to one, but Ardmore came right back with two more runs in the fifth to make it 6-3.
Later on Brockway followed with another RBI double to tie the game, and then Whitfield came through with a two-out RBI single to right to bring home Brockway with the go-ahead run.
Whitfield, who relieved starter Jakari Suggs with one on and nobody out in the third, allowed a one-out single in the seventh but then retired the next two batters to wrap up the win and clinch Russellville’s first-ever state tournament berth.