When the Class 5A, Area 10 softball tournament begins May 1 at Lincoln, the Cleburne County Tigers will open against Clay Central at approximately 4:30 p.m.

The Tigers and the Volunteers split their regular-season series.

Clay Central won 11-7 on Mar. 6 and Cleburne County won 8-4 on April 12. Their game in Lincoln follows the initial tournament game at 2 p.m. between No. 1 seed Lincoln and No. 4 Talladega. Three games will be played Tuesday.

Two elimination games are scheduled for May 3 starting at 5 p.m. The tournament championship will be settled May 4 in another 5 p.m. start.

Cleburne County must finish first or second in the area tournament to advance to the super-regional tournament.

The Tigers will be looking to reverse a short three-game slide. Class 6A power Southside beat Cleburne County 8-1 and 11-6 in a doubleheader at Southside on April 24.

In the opener, the Panthers led 1-0 after two innings then tallied seven runs in the third. Gracie Sanders’ solo home run in the seventh accounted for Cleburne County’s run. Rylee Hiett doubled. Chelsea Parker and Skylar Shierling each had a single.

In the nightcap, the Tigers got single runs in each of the first five innings and led 5-1 before Southside erupted for eight runs in the home half of the fifth. Skylar Shierling was 3-for-3. Kaylee Shierling, Madison Higgins, Tatiana Ervin and Parker each had two hits. Parker doubled as did Kendall Houston. Hiett and Karley Boyd each singled. Hiett had two RBIs. Ervin, Higgins, Kaylee Shierling and Skylar Shierling each had one RBI.  

Leeds defeated Cleburne County 10-7 in Heflin on April 20. The Tigers trailed 10-3 then Parker belted a grand slam home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to tighten the score. Leeds took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. In the second, Sanders walked and scored on Hiett’s sacrifice fly to make it 2-1. Skylar Shierling tripled and knocked in two runs in the third to earn a 3-3 tie. Leeds responded with six runs in the fourth. Kaylee Shierling doubled and Higgins singled for Cleburne County’s other hits.

The Tigers hosted Piedmont on April 19 and won 6-5 with three runs in the bottom of the seventh. Parker opened the seventh with a double and Boyd entered to run for Parker. With two down, Hiett and Ervin each coaxed a walk. All three runners scored on Jayci Boozer’s double to right field.

Boozer pitched the final two innings and picked up the win. She did not allow a run, gave up one hit, walked one and had one strikeout.

Ervin was 3-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. Madison East, Kaylee Shierling, Higgins, Parker and Hiett each had two hits. Higgins scored Cleburne County’s first run when she hit a leadoff homer in the fifth. Sanders doubled. Micah Pentecost and Skylar Shierling each recorded a single.