Ponytails win district tourney
Staff Reports, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle's Ponytail All-Stars are headed to the State Dixie Girls Softball Tournament in Montgomery after capturing championship honors in District 1 Tournament competition in Grady and Margie Long Park Sunday afternoon.
They are scheduled to meet Huntsville National Friday at 4:30 p.m. in Fain Park.
Hartselle claimed the district title and earned a berth in the state tournament by defeating Greenhill 16-0. Back-to-back wins against Underwood on Saturday enabled them to emerge from the losers' bracket to the title game.
In the six games played, Hartselle out-hit their opponents 36 to 8, outscored them 56 to 10, and compiled a pitching ERA of 0.79. In addition to receiving the championship trophy, they earned the sportsmanship trophy, which was voted on by the umpires.
Hartselle got off to a fast start in the opening round on Wednesday by shutting out Greenhill 10-0 in five innings. Chelsea Bennich and Meaghan Gray led the winners at the plate with two singles each. Joy Harris, Meghan Stephenson and Katelyn Hill each had a single.
Hartselle's Abby McHugh and Katie Gentle each pitched two innings and Gray closed with one inning of work. They combined to allow no hits while striking out 13 and walking two.
In the second round, Hartselle lost to Decatur 3-4 in the bottom half of the sixth inning when a bad pitch got by the catcher and resulted in the winning run. Hartselle led 3-0 until Decatur rallied in the bottom of the fourth to tie the score. Leah Robinson had Hartselle's only hit while Decatur had three.
McHugh, Gentle and Gray each had a turn on the mound. They recorded 11 strikeouts while giving up seven walks.
Hartselle answered in the losers' bracket by shutting out Muscle Shoals National 14-0. Ten of the team's 12 players got hits. Ashley Bonner led the team with a double and single. Robinson was credited with a pair of singles and Bennich, Gray, Harris, Stephenson, Hill, Romager, Byford and McHugh each singled. The losers had no hits.
Bonner and Bennich each pitched two innings, allowing no runs and no hits while striking out nine and walking six.
Hartselle continued its momentum by knocking Underwood from the winners' bracket with a 7-5 win in the first game of what would turn out to be a doubleheader on Saturday. At the plate, Bonner had a double and Gray, Stephenson and Cain each singled. The losers had two hits.
McHugh pitched five and one-third innings and was credited with the win. She struck out 10 while allowing seven hits.
With three teams left standing with one loss each, a drawing was held to determine which two teams would meet 30 minutes later and which one would automatically advance to the title game. Greenhill won the bye.
In a second straight must-win game for Hartselle, Gray got the call for mound duty. She responded first at the plate by doubling and knocking in two runs and then scoring on a passed ball to give her team a 3-0 advantage. She then pitched six innings, allowing one run on two hits while striking out eight, helping her team to a 6-1 victory. Bennich also doubled and Robinson and Byford each singled
In the title game, Hartselle out-hit Greenhill eight to two. Harris and Gentle each had a pair of singles, Bennich doubled and Robinson, Romager and Byford each singled.
Bonner pitched four innings, allowing no runs on two hits while striking out eight and walking none.
Hartselle will compete against six other teams in the state tournament – Butler, AUM Green, Montgomery American, Pleasant Grove, Eufaula and Huntsville National.