THS, BHS fall short of state tournamentPublished 1:40pm Tuesday, May 13, 2014
By Bart Moss
For the FCT
If the Tharptown Wildcats and Belgreen Bulldogs were going to advance to the state softball tournament, they were going to have to climb uphill and go through each other to achieve their goal.
Both Tharptown and Belgreen lost their first game in the 1A North Central Regional double-elimination tournament at Munny-Sokol Park in Tuscaloosa Friday afternoon.
The Wildcats lost to Lynn 11-1 while the Bulldogs lost to Sumiton Christian 10-0. The losses immediately put both teams in the loser’s bracket facing elimination in each of their remaining games.
Both teams won their first two games out of the loser’s bracket. Belgreen defeated Southeastern 8-4 and defeated South Lamar 4-1. Tharptown defeated Appalachian 10-1 and defeated Berry 10-2.
The wins set up a rematch of the Franklin County Tournament finals and the area tournament finals between the Belgreen Bulldogs and the Tharptown Wildcats. But this time more was on the line.
A win would keep either team’s hopes of a trip to the state finals in Montgomery alive. A loss would bring their season to an abrupt halt.
Tharptown had come out on the winning end of previous match-ups with the Bulldogs and this time would prove to be the same outcome.
Tharptown defeated Belgreen 7-0 and brought Belgreen’s season to an end.
After the win, Tharptown was guaranteed one more game.
Tharptown was matched up with Lynn, their nemesis from game one. The winner of this game would advance to the finals of the regional and gain an automatic berth in the state tournament in Montgomery.
Lynn, which beat Tharptown 11-1 in game one, got the best of the Wildcats again winning 9-2. The loss ended the Wildcats’ season.
Belgreen and Tharptown had great seasons, and both will return the vast majority of their teams next season. But while Belgreen will remain in 1A, Tharptown will jump to 2A competition next season.
The Tharptown Wildcats finished the season 30-19-1. With all but one player returning on next year’s squad, Tharptown will be looking to make a splash in 2A.
“These girls have had to fight through a lot of adversity this year,” said Tharptown coach Tanna Benford.
“They have rallied together and continued to play extremely well.
“I’m proud of the heart and tenacity they’ve played with. We came one game short. Hopefully that will stick with them and motivate them to work harder next year.
“We will have to step up our play to a different level next year going to 2A. It’s a different ball game and we have to be prepared for it.”
The Belgreen Bulldogs finished their season 28-15 and it has their coach, Richie Hester, excited for the future.
“I am really proud of this team,” Hester said.
“These girls are young; they overcome a lot of injuries and played through a lot of obstacles to achieve some great victories this year.
“We’ve beat some really good teams this year. Our girls have a chance to achieve something special in the future if they keep working hard. Losing hurts these girls and that’s a good thing. It motivates them to want to get better.”