It’s stretch run time for the Cleburne County softball Tigers. The Tigers host Class 4A, Area 10 opponent Anniston in a make-up game today. Friday and Saturday they play in the Pleasant Valley tournament at Anniston’s McClellan Youth Sports Complex. Clay Central comes to Heflin for Senior Night Monday. The Tigers play on the road for their final two Area 10 games – at Lincoln on April 22 and at Munford two days later.

“Those two games will decide the area and who will host the area tournament,” Tigers head coach Ron Ervin said of the Lincoln and Munford games, noting that Lincoln had been playing particularly well of late. “We need to get those two.”

“The prize is right there in front of them,” Ervin continued. “We talk to them all the time about, ‘What’s the prize?’ They all talk about winning the area championship, getting out of the regionals and going to the state tournament. The prize is right there in front of us the next two weeks.”

In Friday’s pool play phase of the Lady Raider Classic, Cleburne County plays Weaver at 5 p.m. then meets Handley at 6:30 p.m. Single elimination championship action starts Saturday at 9 a.m.

Cleburne County split four games in Pell City’s Rumble on the River tournament last weekend. In their opener Friday, the Tigers blanked Childersburg 4-0. Kiara Akles had seven strikeouts in the six-inning game and allowed just two hits. Toni Epps, Madison Jones and Alisa Norton each had a pair of singles in the win. Akles, Amber Parker and Bailey Beam had one base hit each. Jones, Parker and Kaity Zeiders each drove in a run. Epps scored twice.

In Friday’s second pool game, St. Clair County got the lead quickly and downed Cleburne County 8-5. Epps, Akles and Norton had two-hit games. Jones singled, scored one run and drove in two teammates. Kristen Leggett was hit by pitches twice and scored twice. Epps also scored two runs. Norton and Leggett had stolen bases.

In Saturday’s opening round of single-elimination championship bracket play, the Tigers were matched with Munford and defeated the Lions 5-0. Akles struck out 11 in six innings. Zeiders and Norton each went 3-for-3 with one RBI apiece. Zeiders had a double. Epps, Jones and Chelsea Parker had a single each. Epps, Akles and Amber Parker drove in one run each.

In the quarterfinals, Clay Central edged Cleburne County 4-3 in extra innings. Zeiders was 3-for-3 again with two doubles and three RBIs. Norton, Akles, Jones and Epps each had one base hit.

“Kaity played well this weekend. … Those doubles were right up the middle, line drives dropping right in front of the centerfielder. That’s what you want,” Ervin said.