The second-ranked Tornadoes, who had split their previous four meetings with the Eagles, broke a 2-2 eighth-inning deadlock when Meleah Smith drove-in Savannah Jones for the game-winning score and the first qualifying spot for the region.
Grayson Culverson picked up her third tournament win for the Tornadoes, allowing two runs, nine hits, three walks and striking out nine batters in eight innings.
Ciara Hubbard went a perfect 3 for 3 on the game, drove-in a run and recorded a stolen base to lead Parrish offensively. Joes was 2 for 4 with two runs scored and a stolen base and Smith went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a stolen base. Jamie Beth Hocutt went 2 for 4 and Makenze Morgan was 1 for 3 with a walk and an RBI.
Jenna Ergle gave up 10 hits, three runs, a walk and struck out six batters in eight innings in the loss for the Eagles.
At the plate, Kendall Beth Sides led Sumiton Christian’s batters with a 2 for 4 performance. Katlyn Sides went 1 for 3 with a run scored and a stolen base, Kendell Hamm was 1 for 4 with an RBI and Kirsten Click went 1 for 4 with an RBI.
Parrish coach Chris Harris expressed his pride in his team’s accomplishments in both winning the regional tournament and securing a state tournament berth.
“It’s an absolutely wonderful moment for the entire Parrish family. We have three very special seniors on our squad Savannah, Grayson and Tayler (Winchester) — who have had 40-plus win season over the past three years that have never been to the state tournament because of the level of competition in our region.
“I’m very happy for those three girls and for our entire team. They’ve all put in a lot of time and effort in to being the best team we could be and getting to this point and it’s great to see it paid off,” Harris said.
Harris also cited the play of Jones and Culverson as keys in earning the victory.
“I told Savannah to show me why she is the best before she went to the plate in the last inning and she comes through in the biggest moment for us. All year long she’s gotten on base and made good things happen for us and she did it again today,” Harris said.
“Grayson, at the beginning of the year, told me she was going to get us to Montgomery. For her to go out these past two days, in a region tournament and pitch 20 innings, strike out 25 batters and give up only five runs, tells you how dedicated she is to helping our team reach that goal.”
The Tornadoes (36-9) scored the first run of the game at the bottom of the first after Morgan drove in Jones on an RBI double for the 1-0 lead.
No. 3 Sumiton Christian (30-25) evened the scored, 1-1, after Katlyn Sides scored on an RBI single from Click in the top of the fourth inning.
Parrish, however, regained the lead at 2-1 in the bottom of the inning, after MeKya Hill crossed the plate.
The two teams found themselves tied up once again following an RBI double by the Eagles’ Hamm in the top of the fifth inning.
In the bottom of the eighth with bases loaded and Jones waiting on third base, Smith sent a fastball into left field for the 3-2 win.
Parrish opens the state tournament against the Fayetteville Wolves (16-18) on Friday at 9 a.m. at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park.
Sumiton Christian tops Berry for North Central’s 2nd qualifier
The No. 3 Sumiton Christian Eagles are back in a familiar spot — competing for an AHSAA state title.
With Saturday’s 3-0 shutout victory over the Berry Wildcats (28-16), the Eagles will make their fifth-straight appearance at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park after earning the North Central Region’s second qualifying spot — just one year removed from advancing to the state championship game in Class 2A.
Jenna Ergle gave up six hits, a walk and struck out six batters in seven scoreless innings in the win for Sumiton Christian.
At the plate, Savanah Langston was a perfect 3 for 3 with an RBI and two stolen bases, while Kendall Beth Sides went 3 for 4 with a run scored, an RBI and two stolen bases. Kirsten Click was 1 for 3 with a run scored and Haley Weigant went 1 for 3.
“After we had lost so many key leaders from last year’s team and switched to an extremely competitive area in Class 1A this year, to have the opportunity to make the trip back to Montgomery is very rewarding,” Sumiton Christian coach Jessica Aderholt said.
“I don’t think we had a lot of people who believed in us this year, but our girls never stopped playing hard and I’m very proud of the effort they’ve made in earning a spot in the state tournament.”
The Eagles will face the No. 4 Ragland Purple Devils (22-3-1) — the three-time defending Class 1A state champion — at 9 a.m. on Friday.