By Erik Harris, sports editor
OXFORD — It was a fitting finish for the Hewitt-Trussville softball team on Friday night.
The No. 1-ranked Huskies capped off a stellar 2021 season with an action-packed final two innings against Fairhope in the state championship game. An abundance of offense lifted Hewitt to 10 late-inning runs in a 16-4 win over the Pirates, securing the program’s second straight Class 7A state title.
“I’ve never felt anything like this,” said Hewitt-Trussville senior Jenn Lord, who was named the state tournament MVP after her two-hit, four-RBI outing in the winner-take-all championship game. “I couldn’t have asked for a better senior season and couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls to do this with.”
After dropping the first game of the championship series 4-2 on Friday afternoon and falling behind 3-0 in the decisive “if needed” game on Friday evening, the Huskies finally found their offensive spark in the top of the third when center fielder Anyce Harvey launched a two-run blast — a bonafide no-doubter — to left field. Her 11th home run of the season pulled Hewitt to within a single run and opened the door to a six-run third.
“That was an absolute momentum boost,” said Lord of Harvey’s blast. “We had some things not go our way and up to that point Anyce was kind of struggling throughout the day and not doing what Anyce does, so that gave her a boost and it gave our team a momentum swing.”
The Huskies would take that momentum and pile on 10 more runs in the final three frames to pull out of sight. Harvey would finish with three hits and three RBIs, Crystal Maze also homered and posted three RBIs, Katelyn Murphy drove in three runs off two hits and freshman Sara Phillips struck out eight in a complete-game gem.
Following the game, Hewitt stormed the field for a championship dogpile in Choccolocco Park. Hugs all around, selfies, happy tears and the icing on top: a Gatorade bath for head coach Taylor Burt.
“I think that we really kind of had to lose that first ballgame for us to understand and really appreciate the year that we’ve had and go through a little bit of adversary here at the end to find some fight,” said Burt.
She attributes the slow start to a much tighter approach than she’s seen from her girls this season.
“We were playing so tight, we were playing so tense and that’s not us,” said Burt of her team’s first nine innings played on Friday. “I’ve had to get so used to this group – they’re so different than any group I’ve ever coached – because they love to have fun and I love to have fun too, but I also love to win, so I had to find a happy medium.
“I think our starters felt like they had the weight of the world on them and I just told them, ‘win or lose this ballgame, you are spectacular, you have done so much and I’m so proud of you, so let’s just go have some fun.’”
The fun that followed over the next five innings will live on forever in the HTHS trophy case.