Alabama Christian overcame a first-round loss to Central-Florence, then swept through Sardis and Cherokee County, to keep its Class 4A title hopes alive.
Caitlin Perry, pitching her third game Thursday, shut out Cherokee County and held the team to just four hits in the Eagles 3-0 victory.
Scoreless with two outs in the second, senior Maggie Mills patiently awaited her pitch before sending the ball spiraling over the fence. As she rejoined her teammates at home plate, the look on Mills’ face was not that of joy or surprise. It was determination. Mills wasn’t ready for her high school career to be over, and her performance confirmed it. The infielder finished with one home run, a hit and one RBI.
It was not until the sixth inning that junior Jordan Jones connected for a RBI single followed by a RBI double from Peyton Kegley to extend ACA’s lead to three.
“Every game is going to be close,” ACA coach Chris Goodman said. “It’s a matter of who’s going to make the mistakes, who’s going to get the two-out hit with runners in scoring position, that’s the key to me.”
The eight-time state champions opened the tournament with a heart-breaking 5-4 loss to Central-Florence after squandering an early four run advantage in the final inning.
Central-Florence’s Abby Keener silenced the ACA crowd with a two-out RBI single in the top of the seventh to give her team a one-run lead.
Trailing by one with two outs and a runner on first, the Eagles looked to Jones for a miracle. Instead, Jones grounded into second, an easy out for the defense, to seal Central-Florence’s unlikely comeback victory.
Eighth-grader Schylur Edwards led ACA with three RBIs on as many hits, including a second inning RBI home run. Winning pitcher Caitlin Perry finished 1-for-3 with one RBI.
“We’ve been on both ends of the spectrum,” Goodman said. “In 2009, we lost two games in the region and were region runner-up to Corner. Then we turned around and beat them twice in the state tournament to win the championship. You’d like to think winning the region helps, but it’s whoever gets hot at the right time.”
In Game 2, ACA constructed a comeback of its own to defeat Sardis 7-3 and advance to the second round of the loser’s bracket. The loss eliminated the Lions from the tournament. Edwards’ one-run double in the fifth sparked an offensive explosion that spanned two innings, while junior catcher Bailey Goodman went 1-for-2 with one RBI. Seven different batters collected hits in the win.
ACA will face Oak Grove in an elimination game at 10:30 a.m. today at Lagoon Park.