For the Sparkman Senators, it took losing to win.
Playing on the fumes of their 2012 championship glory, the Senators got a slow start to the 2013 season.
A midseason 7-0 loss to Pelham was the turning point.
“We didn’t play like a champion,” Sparkman coach Dale Palmer said. “Not that we lost, but we didn’t play with the intensity and the passion and the fire every play, every pitch. We left that tournament and practiced for about 3½ hours and said, ‘Hey, we may not win another game, but we’re going to play like a champion.’ And I feel like those kids bought in to what we asked them to do.”
The Senators (52-8) defeated Pelham twice in the final day of the Class 6A state softball tournament on Friday at Lagoon Park. Sparkman won the championship game 9-1 after defeating the Panthers 10-0 in the first game.
“It’s definitely an unexplainable feeling,” Sparkman senior Meg Willis said. “To end on top is probably the best thing that’s ever happened. And two years in a row, the best ending to a senior year ever.”
Willis was named MVP after going 1-for-4 with two RBIs in the championship game. She went 2-for-3 with a RBI, a run scored and two walks in the first game.
Sparkman scored twice in the first, once in the third and twice in the fourth to build a 5-1 lead through five innings. The Senators exploded for a four-run sixth to seal their second consecutive title.
Pelham scored off a bases-loaded walk in the first inning.
Pelham defeated Vestavia Hills 5-0 in the losers bracket to get to the title game.
“To me, they’re still the best team in the state,” Pelham coach Amy Sullivan said. “They’re disappointed, and I completely understand that because they expected nothing less than to win it all. We just have a really special team. Don’t worry as much about the loss, but take the positive things from it.”