At the halfway point in its Class 4A, Area 10 softball schedule, Cleburne County sits atop the area standings at 3-0. The Tigers’ third area win came on Thursday of last week at home when they defeated Munford 10-0 in five innings.
“The Munford game, it was about as close to perfect as it could get for us,” Cleburne County head coach Ron Ervin said Wednesday afternoon. “We hit the ball well. Everybody was diving for balls. Kiara (Akles), she pitched great that night. She had double-digit strikeouts. They weren’t even close to it. That’s one of the best games she’s pitched this year.”
Akles tossed all five innings and fanned 11 batters. She and Chelsea Parker each went 3-for-3 at the plate against the Lions. Akles’ hits included a single, a double and an RBI triple. Parker drove in a run and scored once. Shay Henson scored two runs as Akles’ courtesy runner. Alisa Norton and Hannah Gossage each had a pair of singles and scored once. Norton recorded two RBIs and Gossage had one.
Catcher Kaity Zeiders tripled and drove in a run. Caitlyn Caffee scored while running for Zeiders. Madison Jones had a base hit and an RBI. Jones, Toni Epps, Amber Parker and Bailey Beam each reached home once for the Tigers. Epps and Beam had a base hit apiece.
Playing in the Oxford tournament over the weekend, Cleburne County played well but lost four games against Class 6A competition. In the opener, Pell City downed Cleburne County 5-0. Akles pitched and struck out five. Norton and Amber Parker each had a single and Akles doubled.
“We had runners on. We just couldn’t get them in,” Ervin said. “We were hitting the ball. Everybody was hitting the ball. We only had like two strikeouts in the game. It was like we were hitting right to people.”
Prattville then downed the Tigers 4-1. Jones, Akles, Chelsea Parker and Norton each had a single. Jones scored on a two-out single by Norton. Amber Parker pitched and had one strikeout.
“She pitched well,” Ervin said. “A couple of miscues gave them some runs.”
In Cleburne County’s third game, host Oxford captured a 2-0 victory. Amber Parker had one strikeout in the loss. Jones and Norton had a single apiece. Ervin said the Tigers had too many pop-ups against both Prattville and Oxford.
“We just couldn’t hit the ball on a line to get it on the ground, make the defense rotate,” he said.
In the elimination bracket, Cleburne County faced Prattville for the second time in the tournament and fell 3-0. The Tigers got five singles. Jones, Akles, Norton, Beam and Gossage each had one hit. Pitching, Akles recorded four strikeouts.
“They understand they’re playing ranked 6A schools. They understand we’re playing up,” Ervin said. “I think the biggest thing that we’re learning right now is that when you play those good teams, when you make one mistake it costs you.”
Cleburne County’s game at Alexandria Monday was rained out. Ervin said he and Alexandria coach Brain Hess hoped to find an available date and reschedule.
The Tigers play Friday and Saturday in Pell City’s tournament. Handley comes to Heflin on Monday of next week and White Plains plays at Tiger Park Tuesday. On April 17, Cleburne County hosts Area 10 foe Anniston in a make-up game.