Sumiton Christian seniors chase third title

Eagles open state tournament play on Thursday

By W. BRIAN HALE, Eagle Sports Writer
Posted 5/15/17

SUMITON — The incredible journey for Sumiton Christian’s senior quintet of Kendall Beth Sides, Jenna Ergle, Kamree Lay, Savanah Langston and Abbey Bice will draw to its conclusion this week at the AHSAA State Tournament at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park.

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Sumiton Christian seniors chase third title

Eagles open state tournament play on Thursday

Posted

SUMITON — The incredible journey for Sumiton Christian’s senior quintet of Kendall Beth Sides, Jenna Ergle, Kamree Lay, Savanah Langston and Abbey Bice will draw to its conclusion this week at the AHSAA State Tournament at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park.

Together, their accomplishments to the program have been extraordinary — with over 280 wins, tournament championships during both the regular season and the postseason, annual trips to regional and state tournaments and two consecutive state titles.

The 2017 season has proven to be one to remember for the seniors as well, with some among the national top statistical leaders in several categories according to MaxPreps. Ergle is second in home runs (21) and first in RBIs (110), Sides is first in stolen bases (90), runs scored (98) and fifth in RBIs (75), Langston is second in stolen bases (78) and Lay is first in wins (41), tied for first in no hitters (11) and second in strikeouts (427). Both Sides and Ergle are among the state’s nominee’s for the MaxPreps Player of the Year.

Overall, the team is ranked fourth in the state among all classifications and 74th in the nation.

Personal triumphs and special experiences have been prevalent in each girl’s time at Sumiton Christian.

Ergle, orignally from Southern California, has not only become the state’s leader in RBIs, but has set a national career record as well. She states that her growth during her time with the program has helped shape her both on and off the field.

“I’ve grown as a team player — at times in California there’s a lot of personalities that don’t get along, but for a small program like ours here, we don’t have that option. All of us coming together as a team and as a family has helped our goal of competing every year,” Ergle said. “Since I got here in the eighth grade, through this season, we’ve always wanted to compete and be the team that everyone talked about.”

A treasured memory for Ergle in her time with the Eagles was the 2015 state championship season, where the program won its second title.

“That year was one of the bigger, tougher ones, especially for me personally — a lot of emotions were going in different ways,” Ergle said. “Winning the championship that year was a moment that I’ll always carry with me because it set the tone for us to become the team we’ve become for the past three seasons.”

Lay went through a number of changes before joining the Eagles in 2015, beginning her career with the Parrish Tornadoes before joining the Oakman Wildcats after Parrish’s closure.

In her first season at Sumiton Christian in 2016, Lay was named the ASWA Class 2A Pitcher of the Year as well as the state tournament MVP.

“It amazes me as to how far I’ve come as a person and as a player since I first joined the team — I feel that being part of this program has made me strive to grow as an individual,” Lay said. “Playing with these girls who have come to mean so much to me has been a great experience.”

During her time at Sumiton Christian, Langston has grown to be one of the team’s most consistent presences, both at the plate and in the field and is a multi-time selection to the ASWA All-State Team. Apart from a stellar year at baserunning, she’s also batting .607 and has scored 71 runs, further cementing her legacy with the program.

“My time here as been wonderful. It seems like the five seniors have been together for forever, even with Jenna and Kam joining us at different points, it feels like we’ve been playing together our entire lives,” Langston said. “I think it speaks about the closeness all of us share — watching them grow from freshmen to being a step away from college is amazing.”

Langston’s favorite moment as a member of the team came when fellow senior Bice hit the game-winning home run in the 2015 championship final that secured the state title.

“Abbey worked through so much adversity with an injury to even get to play in the tournament. It just seemed like she was due for that hit,” Langston said.

Head coach Jessica Aderholt has watched the group’s growth and accomplishments with joy, but also greets the five seniors’ final week with the program with bittersweet feelings.

“It’s hard to think of them as not being a part of the team. Even before they started playing for us, I watched them grow up as babies. They’ve been such a big part of our program, especially since eighth grade when they became starters after my last big group of seniors left,” Aderholt said. “They’ve been the heart of the team for years. Mentally, emotionally and team-wise it’s going to be hard to see them go.”