MONTGOMERY -- Pell City High School’s softball team fell to No. 4-ranked Brookwood 7-0 in an elimination game at the Class 6A State Tournament at Lagoon Park on Wednesday.
Despite having some opportunities in the first three innings to bring some runs across the plate, Pell City left four runners stranded while Brookwood built a 3-0 advantage.
Pell City head coach Terry Isbell said while not getting those runs early hurt, he noted Brookwood was a quality opponent.
“They’ve got a good ballclub,” he said. “They pitched really well. She (Kamryn Murdock) spun the ball really well. That had a lot to do with it.
“Even though we didn’t capitalize, we’re still thankful for the opportunity to represent Pell City High School and our community.”
Brookwood doubled its lead in the fourth when a fielding error on a infield fly allowed Rylee Butler and Karlee Pierson to come home. An RBI triple by Felicity Frame put Brookwood ahead 6-0.
Brianna Short added to Brookwood’s lead with a solo homer to left in the bottom of the fifth.
Pell City opened the tournament with a 4-0 loss to Spanish Fort. The Lady Toros turned the Lady Panthers’ defense into a pinata with 11 hits in the contest.
Isbell’s bunch rebounded in the consolation bracket with a 3-2 victory over Helena that set up the nightcap showdown with Brookwood.
He said winning a state title was the goal despite having a young team, but it doesn’t take away from the year the Lady Panthers had.
Pell City finished 31-14 and won the program’s first area championship in the fastpitch era.
“I think a lot of people at the beginning of the year never thought (we’d make it this far), but I guess we finished No. 6 in the state,” Isbell said. “We’d be among the final six teams in the state after today.
“It was a great season … I told this group right here that they set the bar for future Pell City softball teams (by) winning the area championship, finishing second qualifier in the region, then coming to state and winning a game. This group of Pell City Panthers set the bar really high. I’m very proud of them.”
Underneath that bar lies a solid foundation that Isbell said the Lady Panthers can build upon for the long-term.
“I’ve said many times when I left 6 ½ years ago, I left a pretty good program,” he said. “When (Pell City Principal) Dr. (Tony) Dowdy called me back and asked me if I was interested in taking the job, I was given a pretty good program with pretty good softball players. I gave when I left, and I got in return when I came back.”
Pitcher Emily Butts, one of four seniors on Pell City’s team, said she believes the underclassmen will continue to carry the team forward.
“We’ve had a lot of people step up this year and fill big shoes because we were young,” she said. “We started five or six freshmen, so a lot of those girls have stepped up.
“Next year, I don’t expect any less. I expect them to step up and take this team as far as they can, just like this year.
“I’m just really proud of everybody and how hard they’ve worked just to make it this far, work together, just love each other, play and leave it all on the field. It means so much.”