Sparkman wins Class 6A, Area 15Published 6:20am Saturday, May 3, 2014
HARVEST- Sparkman rolled to their eleventh straight area title Friday night as the two –time defending state champions appear poised to make it a three-peat. The Senators were efficient in winning three games in two days; two of them were run-rule games, 11-1 over Bob Jones in six innings and 13-3 over Hazel Green to take the championship.
Sparkman can make history as the first three-peat state softball champion.
“It’s a great group of kids that work real hard and want to achieve high and it’s paid off for them,” Sparkman coach Dale Palmer said. “This senior group will leave here with more wins and a higher winning percentage than any other group.”
Sparkman now moves on to the Northwest Regional at the Huntsville Sportsplex next weekend. Among the teams in the 6A bracket will be Oxford, PellCity, Albertville, Huntsville, Florence, and Austin. With a rule change dropping the championship game, three wins over two days will clinch a top seed in the state softball tournament in Montgomery on May 16-17.
The players for Sparkman have some added incentive to stay in the winner’s bracket. The prom is Saturday night and they want to get there on time.
In the title game, Sparkman broke open a close game with four runs in the second inning. Bevia Robinson stroked a bases clearing triple to put Sparkman up 5-1. That was followed by a two-run homerun by Taylor Hurford. Robinson also had a single and RBI in the fourth inning to give Sparkman a 13-1 cushion.
All Sparkman’s runs came off Hazel Green starting pitcher Anita Bates. Bates started and worked all or parts of three straight games on Friday. Hazel Green beat Bob Jones and Buckhorn to get to the championship game.
Sparkman pitcher Bailey Moore allowed a run to Hazel Green in the second inning but otherwise shutdown the Trojans as she worked four innings. Sam Mayhall came on and pitched the final inning.
Kailey Stoker hit a two- run homerun in the first inning for Sparkman.
Stoker is one of the two freshman players who have stepped into starring roles for an otherwise senior-dominated team. She was the winning pitcher in a late-night win over Buckhorn in a winner’s bracket game. Haley Cope is the other freshman playing well. She had a two run single and scored the winning run against Bob Jones.
Sparkman head coach Dale Palmer said the freshmen have been a big reason for the team’s success.
“They have come of age as the season progressed. They are playing like a seasoned veteran who has been here along time. They are having quality at-bats, getting walks after falling behind 0-2, hitting home runs, two-out hits, making plays on defense, and Stoker pitching last night holding a tough Buckhorn team to three runs.”
In that game Stoker also hit a two-run home run and Cope went 2 for 3.
“To win a championship it takes every kid doing the best they can every chance they get and being successful when they give their best. Not just ‘well I tried hard and got out’ but stepping up and producing,” Palmer said.
Palmer has been getting production up and down the lineup. Bevia Robinson and Jordan Bullock had big games on Thursday. Friday it was Taylor Hurford getting a big hit with the two-run home run.
After the game Palmer told his team, “I think we will win it all. I believe in you, I wouldn’t take another team over you.”
“There are a lot of teams out there that can win it. But hands down I’ll take this group,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bob Jones for the second straight year did not win a game in the area tournament.
In Area 16 games at Austin, James Clemens got a win over Decatur in the loser’s bracket but fell to Austin 3-0 in a season ending loss.