Title hopes dashed
By Chris Wasson
In big games, there is something to be said for experience.
When you haven’t played on the big stage, it can sometimes show.
Such was the case for the Dallas County High School softball team in the Alabama High School Athletic Association State Softball Tournament on Friday at Lagoon Park in Montgomery losing 3-1 and 1-0 to Saks and Coner high schools respectively
“They were tight,” said Dallas County head coach Ed Miller. “Normally on the bus they are singing in stuff, but on the way over, it was quiet.”
The Hornets had trouble getting runners on base in both games, going a combined 5-for-47 at the plate- a .106 batting average.
“They all thought they had to do something when they got up to bat,” said Miller. “You just have to get up and bat.”
Dallas County (31-3-1) started off the tournament well, jumping out to a 1-0 lead over Saks High School in the second inning after Ciera Ingram drove in Ilicia Stewart.
Cassie Daniels was able to hold Saks at bay over the next four innings but a late seventh inning, two out, rally by the Wildcats gave them a 3-1 lead.
“We just made a couple of mistakes in that game,” said Miller. “That was the difference in the game. All the teams have to be good to get here.”
Daniels was dominant even in the loss, getting 14 strikeouts.
In game two against Corner High School, Dallas County looked like they would again jump out to an early lead when Kendall Veach led off the game with a double.
After Avery Mott bunted Veach over, Daniels stepped up and hit a hard ground ball to second base as Veach was running home, Preslie Cruce gathered the ball and fired it into Taylor Sloan just in time to tag out Veach as she slid into home.
Cruce then started out the Corner offensive half of the first inning by reaching base on an error.
After a walk to Sloan, Daniels looked primed to get her team out of another jam striking out the next two batters, but on a third strike Cruce and Sloan took off and a throwing error to third allowed Cruce to score.
It would be the only run Corner would need to advance and send Dallas County home.
“To be honest, the worst part wasn’t losing,” said Daniels. “It was when we were breaking it down on the third-base line after the game. I knew that this would be the last time we would be doing that as a team.”
Even though the loss was heartbreaking, Miller knows the girls can look to the future with hope and determination.
“We have 19 players returning next year,” said Miller. “And we are going to work hard in the off-season.”
“This is why you work in the off-season,” said Daniels. “Like coach says ‘every minute you are sitting on your couch someone is out getting better.’”
“I’m so proud of these girls,” said Miller. “They played as hard as they can, they just got beat.”