Curry confident heading into state tournament
by Johnathan Bentley
May 15, 2014 | 1325 views | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Curry's Haleigh Lane, left, greets pitcher Ashlee Swindle after the end of an inning at the North Central Regional Tournament last week. Curry opens play in the State Softball Tournament vs. Saraland at 10:30 a.m. today at Montgomery's Lagoon Park.
Curry's Haleigh Lane, left, greets pitcher Ashlee Swindle after the end of an inning at the North Central Regional Tournament last week. Curry opens play in the State Softball Tournament vs. Saraland at 10:30 a.m. today at Montgomery's Lagoon Park.
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CURRY — Curry's got the record and the ranking. Now the Yellow Jackets just need the ring.

Curry opens play in the State Softball Tournament vs. Saraland today at the 10:30 a.m. at Montgomery's Lagoon Park.

Before the season even started, the Yellow Jackets were set up to be a state title contender. Curry has veteran experience — fielding seven seniors on this year's team — as well as two front-line pitchers and a schedule that has the Yellow Jackets as battled tested as any other team in the state.

Now, Curry is just a few wins away from its first ever state championship.

"I have a good feeling about the (state) tournament," Curry coach Annah Cagle said. "This isn't our first time down there so that maturity will help. Like I said before, last year we were just happy to get there. We've changed out goals. With seven seniors, this is our biggest chance."

No. 2 Curry, which has been ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 all season long, is coming off a perfect 3-0 run through the North Central Regional Tournament in Tuscaloosa last weekend.

The Yellow Jackets finished third in last year's state tournament. Both of the teams that finished in front of them in 2013, Hayden and Scottsboro, have already been eliminated.

"I feel like we've got a big, big target on our back," Curry junior first baseman Haleigh Lane said. "Even though we got third last year, I feel like everybody thinks we will win, but they are still doubting us. That's why we need to go out there and prove it with no doubt."

Of the eight Class 5A teams in Montgomery, Curry has played just one — Moody. Curry defeated the Blue Devils 6-2 at the regional tournament on Saturday, earning its state tournament berth in the process. The rest of the field includes: Hartselle, Athens, Briarwood Christian, Rehobeth, Saraland and Valley.

"I really think we can take it this year," said junior newcomer Courtney Howze, who is the step sister of Lane. "I think we are strong enough. We know how to play together and we all have talent."

Howze, a Vestavia Hills transfer, is Curry's starting centerfielder. She said Curry was the perfect fit for her.

"I feel like this team is more of a family than it was at Vestavia. The players on the team are much more welcoming. They are so easy to get along with. I love them to death," Howze said.

Junior left fielder Gabby Englebert says Curry's team is a strong,

"We're very tight knit on and off the field. There's not a lot of drama. We all get along well," Englebert said.

That attitude filters down to the way the team plays on the field.

"We are good at putting the team ahead of the individual. We really focus on putting down sac bunts so we can move runners over and put them in scoring position. We play one base at a time instead of hitting home runs," Englebert added. "I'm confident in my team. I know we can't go in with the big head. We have to stay humble, but we have to stay hungry. We can't go in thinking we've got it. We have to keep working."

Win or lose, Curry will play two games today. A pair of wins would put the Yellow Jackets into Friday's championship game.

Curry (44-7) already has its share of big wins, beating both the No. 1 teams in Class 5A (Hayden) and Class 6A (Sparkman) this season. Three wins this week would mean much more.

"I'm not going to sit here and say we are going to win it all," Lane said, "but I think if we fight our hardest and if we play to our potential, that we will come home with the trophy."