By Johnny Sanders, Sports Editor
SPRINGVILLE – The Springville Tigers Softball team spent much of the year dominating opponents and solidifying themselves as one of the premiere teams in Alabama Class 5A Softball. The season did not end the way they had hoped, but there is encouragement as they only lose 2 players, seniors Lauren Tolbert and Hailey Davidson. Younger players stepped up all throughout the year to help these two ladies to a 37-9-1 record and an appearance in the North Regional.
In the North Regional tournament, the Tigers came in as one of the favorites to win the region and possibly the entire state tournament. They came right out of the gate by beating East Limestone 14-0 and sending a message to the rest of the field that they were not a team to be taken lightly. Shelby Hathcock and Bella Bullington shared the mound, combining to allow no runs and just 4 hits while striking out 7 batters in the game. Leah Bowden, Kiley Christopher, Layla Bradshaw, and Ashlyn Cooley all had 2 RBI each at the plate in the blowout effort for the Tigers.
Next up for the Tigers would be the Jasper Vikings, in a game that was much more competitive than the first one for Springville. Jasper jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning and Springville tied it up in the third and fourth innings with 3 runs combined. The score stayed knotted at 3 until both teams pushed the game to bonus ball and the Tigers’ Riley Ruple executed a perfect bunt down the third base line and brought Kynlee Taruc home for the winning run to keep Springville in the winners bracket of the tournament. Georgia Chancellor pitched the entire game for the Tigers, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits and striking out 2 batters. Ruple went 1 of 1 from the plate, driving in the winning run.
After a one-day break, the Tigers would take on the Ardmore Tigers in the next round of the tournament. Ardmore would get a 3-1 lead on Springville before a 2- run sixth inning tied the game at 3. Once again, Springville found themselves going to extra innings to settle the game, but this time would not go their way as Ardmore would be the ones scoring the winning run in the bottom of the seventh to send Springville to the loser’s bracket and a rematch with the Jasper Vikings.
With the season on the line, Springville took on Jasper for the right to play in Oxford for the state championship. Despite the 1-2 punch of Bullington and Hathcock on the mound, the Springville Tigers would be defeated by Jasper by a score of 3-1. Neither team would score until the fourth inning, where Jasper picked up all 3 runs. Springville would rally in the bottom of the fifth, scratching one run across the plate to make it 3-1, but that would be all of the offense in this one. Bullington and Hathcock combined to allow just 3 runs on 7 hits and 6 strikeouts for the game. Bowden had the lone RBI for Springville.
Tigers Head Coach JP Taruc said, “We finished the season with a record of 31-9-1. Lauren Tolbert and Hailey Davidson, as seniors, provided the team with great leadership throughout the season. We had young players step up In roles early and later into the season due to injuries. I expect those young players to be big this coming year. I am extremely proud of my girls.”
Coach Taruc believes the future is bright for the Tigers. “The ultimate goal/achievement is to win State. I have been fortunate to have won multiple state championships here in Springville and our goal for every season is to do that. Our soft ball program is all about chasing perfection and catching excellence and excellence is the standard. We have several players returning and we are already hungry to work to obtain these goals.”