Others peak too late and miss out on the playoffs.
The Corner Yellow Jackets are peaking at the perfect time heading into today’s opener in the State Softball Tournament in Montgomery. Corner is 6-0 in the playoffs and has won 19 of its last 23 games.
Next up for Corner is a game against No. 4 Sardis (36-12-2) in the Class 4A opener at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park. A win would put Corner against the Alabama Christian-Central Florence winner at 1:30 p.m.
The double-elimination tournament is set to conclude with the championship game at 4 p.m. on Friday.
Corner coach Aaron James, who has led the Yellow Jackets to the state tournament six times in nine seasons, said his team has been rolling since winning the Bob Jones Tournament in April.
The Jackets have played Sardis once this season, losing 5-2 on a walk-off home run in the seventh inning.
“We were a different team back then,” James said. “We’ve been playing well since April. That’s when we won the Bob Jones Tournament. In the last three games we beat Oak Mountain, Hewitt-Trussville and Baker (all 6A schools). We’re playing good ball right now, but when you get to this point, every team is playing well.”
No. 5 Corner (31-11) has played one of the toughest schedules in the state. The Jackets played three games against state contenders Hayden (5A) and Pisgah (3A) and also faced powerhouse programs in tournaments at White Plains, Springville and Bob Jones.
Playing the best of the best is the norm for James’ group.
“We try to play the best teams we can find. We don’t really care if we get beat or if we win. Playing the best got us to where we are now. Because of who we played, there is nothing down there that we haven’t seen before,” James added.
The schedule seems to have paid dividends. Corner blew through the South-Central Regional Tournament at Troy, beating No. 10 Calera (8-3), Beauregard (8-1) and No. 6 Holtville (10-1).
At Montgomery, Corner will face another stout field.
Top-ranked Alabama Christian (31-12-1) — a six-time state champion — and No. 4 Sardis are on Corner’s side of the bracket. Defending state champion and No. 2-ranked Haleyville (41-12) is on the opposite side along with No. 3 Cherokee County (39-7).
“I like our chances, but there are two or three other teams who have just as much of a chance as we do,” James said. “It’s going to come down to who gets hot down there and who makes the fewest mistakes.”
Corner has six seniors on its roster: Jordan Entrekin, Morgan Daniel, Taylor Sloan, Madison McCormack, Lillie Blackmon and Christina Oates.
Corner’s best finish at state was as runner up in 2009.