For the first time in over a decade the Wadley softball team did not advance beyond its area tournament as the Lady Bulldogs lost their first two games and were eliminated from the 1A, Area 8 tournament last Tuesday.
The last time that happened was either 2005 or 2006, but the exact year is uncertain due to spotty information from those seasons.
So it will suffice to say that what happened to Wadley Tuesday was a rare event, but one easily explained by a mass exodus of senior starters from last season and an influx of young talent this season.
Wadley’s primary pitcher this season was eighth grader Katie Ward, and most of the roster consisted of players in the 10th grade or below.
“I am pleased with the amount of learning that took place this year during our rebuilding year,” said Wadley head coach Karen Beverly. “And the future looks good for Wadley softball.”
The Lady Bulldogs found themselves in a pair of high-scoring games in the tournament last Tuesday. Wadley fell to Faith Christian 17-14 in the first game before being eliminated in a 14-10 loss to Winterboro.
Wadley led 7-6 after the first three innings against Faith, but a five-run fourth inning put Wadley behind for the first time in the game and the Lady Bulldogs never overcame that deficit.
Makenzie Gilliland went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and three RBI, while Kendal Patterson added two hits and three RBI in three at-bats.
Wadley stroked 14 hits in the game and drew 12 walks. Katie Overton, Madison Gilliland and Melody Jordan all had multi-hit games.
The elimination game against Winterboro hinged on Winterboro’s 6-run second inning that put them ahead of Wadley 8-5. Wadley trailed 14-6 going into the sixth inning, but their comeback fell short after they cut the lead to 14-10 in the seventh.
Cailin Birdsong led Wadley’s 15-hit attack with a 3-for-4 performance. Ward, Overton, Madison Gilliland, Patterson and Melody Jordan added two hits apiece.
Wadley finishes the season with a record of 4-13.
Woodland won its area tournament opener last Tuesday, defeating Ohatchee 10-5. But the Lady ‘Cats lost a heartbreaking 6-5 contest to Ranburne, then were eliminated in stunning fashion in a 10-0 loss to Ohatchee.
It’s a disappointing finish to a promising season for Woodland, but the Lady Bobcats can take solace in the fact that this year’s team featured just one senior (Jaycee Lovvorn) and one junior (Amy Smith). The rest of the starting nine is in the 10th grade or below, so the vast majority of the team with have a shot at redemption and a return to a regional next season.