Sophomore Madison Pike plays in the outfield and at third. Classmate Gena Prater is an outfielder. Kendall Pressley pitches, plays at first base and fills the designated player role. Torre Roberts is the starter at shortstop. Hetavi Shah is an outfielder and Hayden Tyree is the starting catcher.
Included among the five freshmen are Rachel Baggett and Amber Maddox, each a second baseman and outfielder. Hannah Hulsizer is a first baseman-catcher-pitcher-designated player. Melanie Richardson is an outfielder. Pitcher Kayleigh Williams plays in center field when she is not pitching.
Eighth-grader Kaitlyn Ridley is an outfielder with blazing speed.
“For the most part, I’ve been very pleased, especially with our hitting,” first-year head coach Rachel Smith said of her team’s start. “With it being as cold as it has been and us not being able to see a lot of live pitching – we’ve had very few days to get out and see live pitching, we’ve been doing a lot of indoor work – I’ve been pleasantly surprised that our hitting has been as good as it’s been.”
Softball season began at home for Piedmont but the Bulldogs quickly became road warriors. Jacksonville came to Piedmont on Thursday of last week and left on the short end of a 9-8 score after nine innings. The Golden Eagles got two runs in the top of the first inning and two more in the top of the second for a 4-0 lead.
Piedmont responded with a vengeance in the home half of the second with a seven-run outburst. With no one out and the bases loaded, Pressley doubled to centerfield to drive in two runs. Rivers’ bunt single added another run. With two down and the bases again loaded with Bulldogs, Pike doubled to left and three runs scored. Tant completed the big inning with an RBI single.
Two runs in the third and one in the sixth by Jacksonville sent the game into extra innings. Using the international tiebreaker, each team scored once in the eighth. In the top of the ninth, the Eagles threaten again. With runners on first and third and one out, Jacksonville bunted back to Williams at pitcher. Williams threw home to Tyree for an out at the plate. The third out came on a ground ball back to Williams.
In the bottom of the ninth, Piedmont started with Pike on second base. Tant’s single to center scored Pike and ended the game.
Tant had a career in one contest, going 5-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs. Pike doubled in two official at-bats, walked twice, scored twice and drove in three runs. Mallory Roberts was 2-for-3 and also coaxed a walk. Pressley finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Williams pitched all nine innings. She gave up 11 hits and walked two but only two of Jacksonville’s runs were earned. Williams struck out 11.
On Friday and Saturday, the Bulldogs traveled to Heflin for Cleburne County’s Tiger round-robin tournament. It didn’t take long for the offensive fireworks to start. Piedmont opened against Lincoln Friday and won 9-0 in four innings. Hulsizer’s grand slam home run was the highlight of the Bulldogs’ eight-run first inning. Her shot cleared the fence in straightaway center.
Pressley was the winning pitcher. She allowed just one hit, struck out three and walked two. Torre Roberts had two hits and a stolen base for Piedmont. Williams tripled. Pressley and Mallory Roberts also had a hit for the Bulldogs. Baggett drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the third. Torre Roberts scored twice. Baggett, Hulsizer, Pressley, Kaitlyn Ridley, Mallory Roberts, Tant and Williams each scored one run.
In their first game Saturday, the Bulldogs defeated Clay Central 7-3. It was 3-3 after three innings. In the top of the fourth, Hulsizer singled but was erased when Baggett hit into a fielder’s choice. Peggy Ridley bunted for a base hit and Williams’ infield single loaded the bases. With two down, cleanup hitter Tant doubled to left and Piedmont led 5-3. Williams advanced to third on Tant’s hit and scored on one of the seven errors Clay Central committed during the game.
In the fifth, the Bulldogs got an insurance run. Tyree opened the inning with a single and Kaitlyn Ridley entered as a courtesy runner. Ridley stole second, stole third and scored when the throw got past the third baseman.
Williams was the winning pitcher with a six-inning complete game. She did not allow an earned run or issue a walk. Williams gave up five hits and fanned seven. Tyree had a pair of singles and Kaitlyn Ridley scored two runs. Torre Roberts, Williams, Rivers, Baggett and Peggy Ridley scored once each. Tant ended with two RBIs.
In Piedmont’s final tournament game, host Cleburne County limited the Bulldogs to two runs on two hits and won 10-2 in five innings. Williams and Tyree each had a single and Williams had an RBI. Torre Roberts and Baggett scored for Piedmont.
“The four games we’ve played have revealed some things that we need to work on defensively but for the most part we’re solid and we’ve got some time this week to work on that because we don’t have a game until Thursday,” Smith said.
Piedmont plays at Gaston Thursday, at Fort Payne Friday then plays in the Jacksonville tournament Saturday. The Bulldogs go to Gadsden City Monday.