MONTGOMERY — The Sumiton Christian Eagles followed a similar path to last year’s Class 1A state championship, suffering a loss before battling back through the elimination bracket for a title bout with the Brantley Bulldogs.
This year however, the Eagles fell to the Bulldogs in the championship game, 5-1, allowing Sumiton Christian to finish as the state runner-up to conclude an impressive season.
The Eagles, which entered the year seeking to fill the void left by some of the top names in program history, began the season with young talent in key positions. As the year progressed, new leaders emerged and overall improvement helped the team return back to its familiar postseason form.
“Our girls’ composure and effort after our morning loss to Brantley was what we wanted to see. Despite the fact we knew we had a tougher road and less time to rest, our girls never gave up their determination or stopped playing hard throughout the day,” Sumiton Christian head coach Jessica Aderholt said. “I think our team has shown a lot of character this season. Many people expected us to fall short this year — instead, we worked to get better and build towards being a state contender once again.”
The Eagles’ Taylor Whisonant, Amber Hayes and Anna Calloway were named to the All-Tournament team following the conclusion of the championship game.
Brantley 5, Sumiton Christian 1
After trailing 1-0 through the first four innings, the Bulldogs scored five unanswered runs to claim a 5-1 victory over Sumiton Christian and the state championship.
Calloway pitched the first four innings, giving up four runs and seven hits, while recording one strikeout. Mak Miller gave up four hits and a run in two innings in relief.
Offensively, Hayes had a solo home run and Whisonant recorded a hit.
Hayes got the Eagles on the scoreboard with the first at-bat of the game on the solo home run for the 1-0 edge.
The score remained unchanged until the bottom of the fourth inning when Brantley’s offense took command — scoring two runs in the fourth inning, two runs in the fifth inning and a run in the sixth to reach the 5-1 final.
Elimination bracket final
Sumiton Christian 12, Sweet Water 1 (5 innings)
Whisonant hit a three-run walk-off home run to secure a 12-1, five-inning victory over Sweet Water in the elimination bracket final, allowing Sumiton Christian to advance to the title game.
Calloway pitched four shutout innings in the win, giving up one hit and one walk, while recording seven strikeouts. Alexus Lambert pitched one inning, giving up one hit, one run and one walk with one strikeout.
At the plate, Whisonant was 3 for 4 with three runs scored, five RBIs, a home run and a double, Kaley McCrary was 2 for 3 with two RBIs and a triple, AK Tyree went 2 for 3 with a run scored, an RBI and a double, Lambert and Lexi Jackson both went 1 for 3 with a run scored and two RBIs, Hayes was 1 for 3 with two runs scored, Zana Aderholt went 1 for 3 with a run scored, Calloway was 1 for 3, and Angel Whitlow, Addy Russell and Kylie Miller each scored a run.
After trailing 1-0, Sumiton Christian took control in the bottom of the first inning when McCrary drove in two runs on a triple, 2-1.
The Eagles (39-23) crossed the plate four times in the bottom of the fourth inning, with Whisonant driving in two runs on a double, while also scoring with Aderholt for the 6-1 advantage.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Lambert hit an RBI single, followed by a two-run triple by Jackson. Whisonant’s walk-off home run concluded the Eagles’ 12-1 win.
Sweet Water 7, Addison 5
Addison’s state tournament run came to a close with a fourth-place finish following a 7-5 loss to Sweet Water in the elimination bracket.
Anna Luker pitched seven innings in the loss, giving up two walks and recording six strikeouts.
Offensively, Destiny Walker went a perfect 4 for 4 with three runs scored, a double and an RBI, Cecilee Gaither was 2 for 4 with a run scored, a triple and an RBI, Laken Tyree had a double, Macey Butler recorded a hit with an RBI, Abbie Chambless had a hit, Anna Luker recorded an RBI and Brie Ory scored a run.
Addison closed the season at 19-22.