TUSCALOOSA — Leah Patterson had little margin for error, working against an elite pitcher with a state-tournament berth on the line. Turns out, she didn’t need much.
Patterson outdueled J.B. Pennington’s Alanna Goble for a complete-game shutout, and Pleasant Valley avenged its lone loss in the AHSAA West Central Regional on Friday, winning 2-0.
The Raiders (32-10) clinched their third state berth in as many years and will play South Region winner Geneva on Wednesday at 10:45 a.m. at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park.
After losing to J.B. Pennington 4-2 in a game that finished after midnight Friday, Pleasant Valley won three games to advance, beating Piedmont 14-3 and Lamar County 15-0 before eliminating J.B. Pennington.
“All day long, this was a total team effort,” Pleasant Valley coach David Bryant said. “We got off this field at 12:30 last night and back up here at 7:30 in the morning and had to play three.
“Every kid we had today contributed in some way.”
Pleasant Valley advanced without one of its top bats. Center fielder Chandler Dorsett sustained a level-3 sprain of her left ankle during practice this week and is expected to be out for the season.
After scoring 29 runs in its first two games Friday, Pleasant Valley nodded to Goble and played bunt ball. The Raiders took a 1-0 lead on Savannah Williams’ squeeze to score Lindsey Pritchett in the bottom of the first inning.
Their second run came in the fifth inning, when Erin Rose, Juliana Ballew and Pritchett went bunt single, sacrifice bunt and bunt with a Goble’s throwing error to first base, allowing the run.
Pleasant Valley had to take a different approach against Goble, who struck out 19 batters against the Raiders in their first meeting. She struck out 10 in the second meeting.
With that kind of pitcher in the circle and a state berth on the line, Patterson had to be better than good.
“I just felt like, if I threw what I know I can throw, with my defense behind me, it would be a good game,” she said.
Patterson allowed four hits with eight strikeouts.
“Leah pitched her guts out and probably one of the best games I’ve seen pitched in softball, and probably the best game I’ve ever seen her pitch,” Bryant said.
Pleasant Valley celebrates state berth. pic.twitter.com/gu4ULI3Om0— Joe Medley (@jmedley_star) May 11, 2019
Patterson had a change in approach in her second shot at J.B. Pennington, leading with her curveball.
“She’s got a lot of good pitches,” Bryant said. “Last night, we worked both side of the plate, and that team hit the ball pretty good inside last night. A couple of times, it hurt us, so we made some adjustments, and it worked.”
Still, Patterson had to work out of jams. The biggest came when J.B. Pennington loaded the bases with one out in the fifth. Patterson got McKayla Head to pop out to Williams, the shortstop, and struck out Kayla Putman.
“I was just trying to hit the strike zone and stay focused and not let the crowd or anything get to me,” Patterson said.
Another day at the West Central regional, another rain delay. Count White Plains and Alexandria as teams most affected.
White Plains was due to play Cordova in the 4A elimination-bracket final. As of about 10 p.m., AHSAA officials told them the field was unplayable. The Wildcats, having checked out of their hotel in their second day in Tuscaloosa, await word on a start time today.
Alexandria’s 5A winner’s bracket game against Hayden was postponed today at a time to be determined.
Worse still, forecasts call for more rain today. AHSAA officials informed coaches to expect word about 8 a.m. today, with a game plan to be determined at a 7:30 a.m. staff meeting. All coaches with games yet to play in the tournament have been told Monday play could be an option.
Among Star-area teams affected, White Plains had the toughest choice to make. They didn’t want to spend another roughly $1,000 for an unplanned extra night in a hotel, especially factoring in the possibility that rain might wipe out today’s attempt to play the Wildcats’ game against Cordova.
White Plains coach Rachel Ford is hopeful to get a later game time, so the Wildcats won’t have to return early after traveling back home. This after they spent all day Friday at Bowers Park to get in one game, their winners’ bracket final against Good Hope.
“Obviously, myself and all of the coaches are very frustrated,” she said. “The people in charge are having a hard time giving us definite answers.
“We have parents relying on us to give them answers, and kids can’t play well, if they’re starving or lack sleep, but I understand that, being position of power, there’re a lot of factors that go into decisions.”
Alexandria spent the day at Bowers, all to get in one, two-and-a-half-inning game in a run-rule rout of Parker. Valley Cubs coach Brian Hess agreed with the AHSAA’s assessment of field conditions, however, calling the fields “soupy.”
“It’s what you deal with when dealing with situations like this,” he said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever had to deal with it this bad.”
Here is a roundup of Friday’s regional softball action.
West Central, 3A
Pleasant Valley 15, Lamar County 0: Pleasant Valley eliminated Lamar County to reach the elimination-bracket final against J.B. Pennington.
Pleasant Valley’s top performers:
— Ava Boozer, 2-for-5, two runs.
— Savannah Williams, 2-for-4, double, two runs.
— Cortney Williams, 3-for-4, home run, two runs.
— Bailey Harris, 2-for-4, one run.
— Rylee Haynes, 2-for-4, two runs.
— Krystal Brown, double, one run.
— Erin Rose, 2-for-3, two runs.
— Patterson, pitched seven innings, 10 strikeouts, allowed two hits and one walk.
West Central, 4A
Good Hope 3, White Plains 1: Bailey Swann hit a two-run double with one out in the bottom of the seventh to clinch Good Hope’s state-tourney berth and send White Plains to the elimination bracket, where the Wildcats will have to beat Cordova to reach Montgomery.
Swann’s hit came after Jacqueline Hays reached on a mud-hop infield single and Skylar Tucker hit a bloop single. White Plains right fielder Savannah White charged and appeared to catch Tucker’s hit, but the ball came out as she hit the ground and crossed paths with second baseman Hannah Fortenberry.
White Plains prevented the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth. Left fielder Camden Wilson fielded KaiLee Shikle’s two-out single and threw home to punch out pinch runner Raven Adams, who tried to score from second base.
White Plains’ run came when Emma Jones singled behind an Adriana Sotelo double in the top of the fifth inning.
Jones went the distance in the circle, spreading out eight hits with one strikeout.
Cordova 10, Lincoln 1: Lincoln began the tournament with a 9-6 victory over Ashville but lost the next two, 3-2 to White Plains and 10-1 to Cordova. The Golden Bears finished 36-20.
Kenzie Smith singled home Lincoln’s run. Kamryn Carr and Christavia Curry each had a single.
“Each year these girls work hard all year, offseason and during the season,” Lincoln coach Chad Mullinax said. “It says a lot about the whole program when you replace seniors every year and come back and win at the level we do each year.”
West Central, 5A
Alexandria 16, Parker 0: The Valley Cubs made short work of the Thundering Herd, scoring 13 runs in the first inning and three in the second. The game went run rule after the top of the third.
Alexandria advanced to the winners’ bracket to face Hayden. The Valley Cubs’ top performers:
— Mattie Wade, 1-for-3, one run.
— Ashley Phillips, 1-for-1, triple, three runs.
— Maggie Phillips, 3-for-3, home run, three runs, four RBIs.
— Millie Burt, two runs.
— Lanie Dreyer, 2-for-3, grand slam, double, one run, seven RBIs; pitched three perfect innings (25 strikes, 28 pitches).
— Jordan Beason, 1-for-1, double, one run, one RBI.
West Central, 2A
Ohatchee 14, West End 6: Ohatchee advanced in the elimination bracket and will play the Cedar Bluff-Sulligent loser, with 10 a.m. as the earliest possible start time.
The Indians are 23-19 after going 1-1 on the day.
“We played a really good Sand Rock team first game and had them 1-0 going into the sixth inning, and gave up some runs on bunts,” Ohatchee coach Kendall Poe said. “They hit one ball in the outfield the entire game.
“We responded really well second game, so I hope we can make noise tomorrow.”
Ohatchee’s top performers against West End:
— Skiler Caywood 3-for-4, one RBI.
— Brentli Champion, 3-for-4, one RBI.
— Sydney Clements, 4-for-5, two RBIs; pitched seven innings, six strikeouts.
— Kylee Barnes, 4-for-5.
— Jorda Crook, triple, two RBIs.
Sand Rock 3, Ohatchee 2: Ohatchee fell into the elimination bracket after losing its opener.
Ohatchee’s top performers:
— Caywood, solo home run in top of third inning to give Indians 1-0 lead.
— Crook, 2-for-3.
— Regan Snow, 1-for-3.
— Clements, 1-for-3.
— Champion, 2-for-3.
— Barnes, pitched complete game, allowing three hits and one walk.
Cedar Bluff 11, Ranburne 7: Ranburne fell into the elimination bracket and will play Cleveland today, with the winner to play Sumiton Christian.
East Central, 1A
TCC 8, Faith Christian 7: Faith bowed out of regional play with its second one-run loss of the day. The Lions finished 9-12.
“This season was certainly an improvement from last year,” Faith coach Jason Campbell said. “I am pleased with the way the girls have responded this year. From game one this year to now, I can see huge improvement in the way we are playing the game.
“The 12 losses were mostly from teams in higher class than we are. We want to get to the point where we are competitive with everyone in our class or not.”
Faith’s top performers against TCC:
— Paityn Boyd, 1-for-4, one RBI.
— Jordan Campbell, 2-for-4, home run, one run, two RBIs.
— Madi Snow, 2-for-4, home run, double, one run, one RBI.
— Anna Kerri, 1-for-3, one RBI.
— Ariane Price, 1-for-3, double, one run, one RBI.
— Erin McVeigh, one run, one RBI.
Berry 4, Faith Christian 3: Faith Christian suffered a one-run loss in a winners’ bracket game, falling to the elimination bracket. Faith’s top performers:
— Boyd, 1-for-4, one run.
— Campbell, 1-for-2, one run, one RBI.
— Snow, 2-for-4, one RBI.
— Kerri, 1-for-2, one run, pitched six innings, allowing seven hits and four earned runs with no walks and two strikeouts.
Athens 16, Oxford 3: Oxford finished 1-2 in the regional and finished its season at 24-18.
“This was a young group that got a lot better as the season went on,” Oxford coach Wendy McKibbin said. “I am very proud of what this team accomplished. We are only losing one senior.”
Oxford’s top performers:
— Sarah Howell, 2-for-3, home run, double, two runs, one RBI.
— Alex Howard, 1-for-1, one RBI.
— Justice Woods, 1-for-2, one run.
Spring Garden advances: Spring Garden beat Skyline in the elimination-bracket final Friday to clinch a state tournament berth. Earlier Friday, the Panthers beat Skyline 22-3 and lost to Mars Hill Bible 7-0 in the winners’ bracket final.
Spring Garden will play East Central Region winner Holy Spirit on Friday at 9 a.m. at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park.