Hartselle's other elite program
Justin Schuver, Sports Editor
In the musical "Annie Get Your Gun" (Yes, I'm opening a sports column with a musical reference. Deal with it.) there is a famous song called "Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)."
The premise of the song – and the musical itself – is that sharpshooter Annie Oakley believes she is the best marksman, sorry, markswoman around and she's ready to do anything to prove it.
Hartselle has its own group of Annie Oakleys, who have shown over the years that whatever successes the Tigers' baseball program has had, they can match and even sometimes better those successes on the softball diamond.
Pretty much everyone in this town is aware of how good the baseball team has been over the years, winning six state championships. What folks might not realize is that the softball team has been just as successful.
Since 1995, when the AHSAA started awarding championships in fast-pitch softball, Hartselle has won three state titles, tied with Robertsdale for the most championships for a Class 5A school. The Lady Tigers are in excellent shape to push that total to four this year, as they travel to Montgomery for the state tournament beginning today.
Hartselle's record is currently 39-18 and the Lady Tigers' pitching has allowed just four runs total in its four sub-state wins over Buckhorn and Boaz. Juniors Breanna Segars and Mary Curtis have headlined a pitching staff that has been close to unhittable more often than not. A solid defense makes the job much easier on the Lady Tigers' pitchers, and Hartselle has the offense to match with any team in the state when the bats are working.
This program, like the baseball team, is a testament to the support that the city of Hartselle has given to youth sports. The Dixie Youth softball league in this city is second to none and prepares girls so that when they're ready to step into the Hartselle program, they won't miss a beat.
Tough finish for Hartselle baseball – When I watched the Cullman Bearcats sweep Hartselle Saturday night, I couldn't help but think I had seen something like this in the history of my favorite MLB team, as well.
2002: Braves lose a short series to the Giants, who have two dominating pitchers in Livan Hernandez and Russ Ortiz.
2003: Braves lose a short series to the Cubs, who have two dominating pitchers in Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.
2004 AND 2005: Braves lose a short series to the Astros, who have two dominating pitchers in Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt.
Starting to see a pattern?
There were two main reasons that Hartselle lost in the semifinals to Cullman, and those two reasons were Zac Ivey and Caleb Clay.
In a short series, two dominating pitchers can be all you need, and that was the case for Cullman. Yes, the Bearcats scored eight runs in Game 2, but do you think that Cullman would have managed that much offense if Hartselle wasn't a little mentally deflated after a tough 2-1 loss in Game 1? No, neither do I.
This Hartselle team was a very good team that has a lot to be proud of this season. Despite losing two senior pitchers at the start of the year, the Tigers had the kind of pitching that kept them in games all season long. Hartselle had power, had great defense and showed that it is again one of the elite teams in Class 5A.
Losing two games against that caliber of pitching, pitching that would have shut down plenty of other talented teams in any classification, is nothing to be ashamed of.