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Lady Tigers win region

Chelsea Bennich hits one of her two home runs against Lawrence County. In the third inning of Hartselle's 16-0 win, she had a solo homer and a 3-run shot. | Dale Robinson

Lady Tigers draw Eufaula in state softball tournament

Hartselle (43-6-1) will have the opportunity to redeem itself after a disappointing finish in the 2010 State Softball Tournament when the team makes a return visit to Montgomery’s Lagoon Park on Friday.

The Lady Tigers will carry the No. 1 seed out of the North Regional and the overall No. 1 ranking into the Class 5A State Tournament, which gets under way at noon. Ironically, they will open against Eufaula, a team that knocked them out of the tournament in a 1-0 pitcher’s battle a year ago.

The Lady Tigers landed a berth in the state tournament with a clean sweep of the opponents they faced in regional competition at the Sportsplex in Huntsville.

They defeated Lawrence County 8-6 in the final Saturday afternoon after defeating the same team in a winner’s bracket final 16-0 earlier in the day. Wins were recorded against Athens and East Limestone on Friday.

In the four games combined they outscored their opponents 44-8 and logged eight home runs.

“They played really well and I’m extremely proud of them,” said head coach Daniel Bates. “This gives us something to build on. We need to have good practices this week and stay focused. We also need to work on the mental aspect of the game because we’ll face a lot of pressure in Montgomery.

“Anytime a team makes it to Montgomery, it is worthy to be there,” he pointed out. “Everybody we play will be a good team and we’ll have to play better than we have all year to be competitive. That means we’ll have to have good pitching, solid defense and timely hitting, and some good luck along the way.”

HHS 8, Lawrence Co. 6

After posting lopsided wins in the first three games, the Lady Tigers “kicked the ball around a little bit” in the title game, according to Bates.

“We had four of five errors in that game and I don’t think we had any miscues in the first three games,” he said. “I credit that to letting up and losing some of our focus.”

East Lawrence was ahead 6-5 in the fourth inning but Hartselle went ahead in the fifth inning and never trailed after that.

Hartselle’s hitters were Leah Robinson with a solo home run and a 2-RBI double, Chelsea Bennich with three singles, Jacquie Shadden with two singles and two runs, Olivia Golden with a double, single and two runs and Ashley Bonner with a solo homer.

Kayla Faulk started on the mound and pitched 3 1/3 innings; Abby McHugh pitched 2 2/3 innings in relief; and Breanna Riley pitched the final inning.

HHS 16, Lawrence Co. 0.

The Lady Tigers broke the game open in the third inning by scoring eight runs. Bennich blasted two homers in the inning. Bonne and Katie Gentle each belted 3-run homers.

Golden doubled and singled. Shadden contributed three singles.

Riley and Meghan Stephenson each singled twice while Robinson and Lindsey Romager each singled.

Riley recorded the shutout and allowed only two hits while striking out five and walking one. She also recorded her 1,000th career strikeout in the game.

HHS 9, East Limestone 1

Hartselle was led by Gentle with a solo home run and a 3-RBI double and two singles. Bonner had a 2-RBI single and a double. Bailee Holt added a 3-RBI double.  Stephenson contributed a pair of singles and Shadden and Allie Hill each singled.

McHugh was the winning pitcher. She pitched all seven innings, allowing two hits while striking our seven and walking four.

HHS 11, Athens 1

The Lady Tigers grabbed an early lead and never let up. They put the game out of reach with a 6-run fourth inning.

Hitters for Hartselle were Bonner with a 3-run homer, Robinson with an RBI double and a single, Romager with a 2-RBI double and a single, Golden with a double and 2-RBI single and Gentle and Shadden each with a single.

Riley pitched five innings and allowed one run on two hits while striking out seven and walking four.