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RBHS, THS girls squeeze in one more game with joint Senior Night

Monday afternoon, as Franklin County Schools closed earlier than expected,  Red Bay and Tharptown met on the Tiger softball field for what could be the last high school sporting event of the year in the county, as the coronavirus bears down.

Because of a cancellation from a school in another county, Red Bay called up Tharptown and asked if they wanted to play. The Lady Wildcats, with a sense of urgency, jumped at the chance to play one more game before the AHSAA-mandated suspension in play began.

Red Bay decided to make it a bittersweet dual Senior Night celebration. The Tigers recognized their own seniors and Tharptown’s seniors for what could be the last game of their careers.

“As a coach it is upsetting because you work so hard and prepare all summer and fall,” said Red Bay Coach Shane Nichols. “You get excited when the season starts, and then, all of a sudden, it is possibly over out of nowhere.

“We wanted our seniors to have a night devoted to them. Out of respect for the Tharptown seniors, we wanted to honor them as well. I wish them all the very best and hope we get to play some more games this year.”

Tharptown’s first-year head coach Brooklyn Clark shared her appreciation for the effort to make the game special for the Lady Wildcats, as well.

“I want to thank Red Bay, Coach Nichols, his staff and team for letting my three seniors be recognized on their Senior Day,” said Clark. “It is amazing how the softball community comes together during times like these. I know my three girls will remember this moment for a long time and cherish it. It was a class act all the way around.”

Red Bay senior Emmie Scott said this was one of the hardest games she’s had to participate in.

“It definitely made me realize to never take anything for granted,” said Scott. “You never know when it will all be over. My teammates really lifted me up and helped me through it. I am so thankful for our accomplishments these past two years, and I look forward to seeing where this program can go.”

Tharptown senior pitcher Olivia Ergle echoed Scott’s comments.

“It was and is heartbreaking,” said Ergle. “The possibility that it could be coming to an end like this is unusual. What Red Bay did for us tonight meant so much to us. It was so heartwarming. We have played ball together for most of our lives. The fact they shared Senior Night with us made a bad and unfair situation a special one that we will never forget.”

Tharptown won the game 3-1. The Lady Wildcats scored runs in the first, fourth and fifth inning. The Lady Tigers scored their lone run in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The Tigers outhit the Wildcats 7 to 2. Shaylee Wieting led Tharptown with a hit, a run and an RBI. Lila Blackburn led Red Bay with two hits and an RBI.

Ergle got the win for Tharptown, striking out seven batters.

Chloe Knoblock struck out six for Red Bay, and Blackburn struck out four.

The season is suspended until April 6. The Alabama High School Athletic Association will make a determination at that time how to proceed with all spring sports.