The trek from Lawrence County to the Capital City has been nothing but joyous for Hatton softball of late.
Three consecutive trips to Lagoon Park. Three straight state championship celebrations.
After Day 1 of the AHSAA Class 2A tournament, the Hornets are now just halfway from capturing their fourth in a row.
“We’ve played some good competition,” Hatton head coach John Smith said. “Of course, this is the best eight in the state, so we’ve put ourselves into good shape going into the second day. But we’ve got to come out to play (Friday) because it’s going to be a new day.”
Top-rated Hatton (43-9) relies heavily on its experience. Smith carries eight seniors — led by pitcher and North Alabama signee Hillary Carpenter — on his roster, the most four-year veterans of the any other squad that qualified for the 2A tourney.
“We got a great bunch of girls right here,” said Smith, whose team registered wins over Leroy, 4-0, and Hale County, 15-4, on Thursday. “This is our fourth straight trip down here, the girls just started winning and they like winning and haven’t stopped since. Montgomery has really been our second home come May.”
Hatton will meet Mobile Christian in the winner’s bracket finale at 9 a.m. today.
The Leopards (39-15) were able to dispose of Lexington and Goshen in their opening two games to equal Hatton’s perfect effort.
“I am really proud of the girls,” Mobile Christian coach Brian Callaway said. “We were really focused. We did a good job with pitch selection. We were a little bit nervous and shaky early on, but settled in and made some good plays to put us into a good position to play the No. 1 team in the state.”
Mobile Christian seeks its first state championship in softball since jumping ship from the AISA back in 2007.
Callaway understands what type of performance his squad must play if it intents to derail the reigning three-time state champs.
“It’s going to take playing our best game,” he said. “They’ve got nine seniors, so they have the experience. We’re going to have to play flawless ball to be able to beat them — bottom line. We’re capable of doing that, but when you play in a game like that, you have to get a few balls bounce your way as well.”