By Erik Harris, sports editor
OXFORD — Hewitt-Trussville has defended its Class 7A state softball championship.
For the first time this postseason, the top-ranked Huskies faced elimination on Friday evening and they responded with a 16-4 winner-take-all championship game victory over second-ranked Fairhope.
The Pirates won the series opener 4-2 Friday afternoon.
Head coach Taylor Burt also led her girls to a title in 2019. No state tournament was held in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Winner-take-all championship game: Hewitt-Trussville 16, Fairhope 4
It was a mad comeback.
Jenna Lord swung in four runs, scored twice and earned tournament MVP honors. Sara Phillips struck out eight in a complete game and Hewitt-Trussville rebounded from its first loss since April 7 with a 16-4 beating of Fairhope in the 2021 state championship game.
The Huskies, en route to their 18th double-digit victory of the year, scattered 17 hits, including four doubles and a pair of home runs, on Pirate pitching Friday night. As a team, Hewitt also finished with 16 RBIs in the win.
Trailing 3-0 in the top of the third, the Huskies exploded with a six-run frame that ultimately put them over the top and sent the blue map back to Trussville.
The offensive onslaught started with a Katelyn Murphy walk. From there, Anyce Harvey ripped a two-run home run to left – her 11th dinger of the season – , Lord lined in two more, including the go-ahead, with a double. Crystal Maze swung in another with an RBI single into left and Madison Mitchell wrapped up the big inning with a run-scoring chop up the middle.
Hewitt-Trussville went to the bottom of the third with a 6-3 advantage. The Huskies never looked back.
Mitchell added some insurance in the fifth when she sent a double into left for her second RBI of the game and her eighth of the state tournament. Her knock stretched the Hewitt lead to 7-3.
Things came unglued for Fairhope in the final two frames, as the state champs added six runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh.
Maze and Harvey both homered and went home with three RBIs apiece for the Huskies. Murphy slapped in three runs of her own and Mitchell chipped in with two RBIs. Mitchell joined Lord on the all-tournament team alongside Phillips, who improved to 16-0 on the year.
Championship Game 1: Fairhope 4, Hewitt-Trussville 2
The Pirates handed Hewitt-Trussville its first loss since April 7 to force a winner-take-all championship game.
Fairhope did its damage with three home runs. Ryley Harrison and Justice Palmer knocked back-to-back bombs in the top of the fifth to set the final count at 4-2. Alea Johnson put her Pirates on the board in the third with a solo shot to center, which tied things up at 1-1 in the third.
Johnson also pitched a complete game with three strikeouts, three walks, five hits and two runs allowed. Hewitt got to her early with single runs in the first and fourth innings, but couldn’t scratch anything further, as Johnson held the Huskies to their lowest run total since a 2-1 Area 6 tournament win over Vestavia Hills on May 5.
For the Huskies, senior shortstop Jenna Lord started the game up with an RBI double into the left-field corner, scoring Kenleigh Cahalan for a 1-0 lead. After Fairhope tied it in the top of the third, Hewitt reclaimed the lead with a run-scoring infield single from Katelyn Murphy in the fourth. The senior outfielder chopped the ball into the dirt directly in front of the plate where it settled, allowing a run in from third for a 2-1 advantage.
However, that would be it for the Huskies offense.