Lady Bears capture third straight 1A-Area 5 softball championship

Published 11:20 am Thursday, May 4, 2023

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The Keith Lady Bears faced adversity on Wednesday in the Area 5, Class 1A Softball Championship game against A.L. Johnson.

But the Lady Bears found a way to respond and ended up running away with a 13-3 win in five innings.

After taking care of Central Hayneville  on Tuesday 27-2 to reach the championship game, the Lady Bears were caught flat-footed early on by the energy of  A.L Johnson. The Lady Eagles came out and quickly jumped on Keith’s starting pitcher Ja’Kayla Moore who had not seen much playing time in the tournament. Head Coach Towanna Flennory said Moore struggled early on.

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“My pitcher started off slow,” Flennory said. ‘She put pressure on the defense because she was walking some batters.”

After the top of the first inning, A.L. Johnson held a 3-0 lead and the momentum. Keith could not get out of the starting blocks at the bottom of the first. The pitching from the Lady Eagles were giving the Lady Bears lineup trouble by making them hit into pop-ups or easy groundouts. Keith was able to get one run across the plate on an RBI by Shania Moore. Keith was able to get another run in the third on an inside-the-park home run by Tania Hays to cut the lead to 3-2. By the time the fourth inning rolled around the game had turned into a defensive battle. Finally, in the bottom of the fourth inning, the bats of Keith came to life. The Bears scored eight runs in the inning to push the game to a more comfortable lead for the Keith fans at 10-3. Ja’Kayla Moore started to find the strike zone in the fourth and fifth inning and her defense behind her were making the routine plays.  Nothing got by the Lady Bears after they took the lead and knew the championship was in their grasp. A.L. Johnsons’ comeback hopes ended in the fifth when Taylor Tisdale, Jeashanda Black and Hays crossed home plate to put the game away for the run-rule finish. Despite winning in dominant fashion Flennory said that it was good for her team to have adversity in this game as they prepare for regionals.

“This is their (A.L. Johnsons) first year but they have some good players,” Flennory said. “ They came to play. That’s what you do in the playoff, you come to play. They didn’t care that we beat them before in the regular season. This is the first time they played us in the tournament and they came to play. That’s what they did. They were ready to hit the ball, to catch the ball, they were ready to make a statement and they did. They woke us up. It was a game that we needed. We needed that  ‘I’m going to beat you mentality’. Now it prepares us for regions. It’s no fun in blowing everyone out. Sometimes you need that pressure.”

The regional tournament will be held at Lagoon Park next Tuesday through Friday. Keith will find out their opponent at the end of the week.