Lady Tigers#039; comeback season ends in third round

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 24, 2000

The Greenville High School softball team's dramatic turnaround finally ended this past weekend during the state tournament at Fain Park in Montgomery when they were defeated by Etowah, 6-0. The Lady Tigers lost their first game of the tournament to Athens, 20-3, but rebounded with a win against Dallas County, 21-10, in the second round.

The season turned into a memorable one for Greenville as they came back from a 4-17 start to finish with a record of 21-23 and were among the last eight teams vying for the 5A state championship.

Head softball coach Russell McCartey said that no particular player stood out during the stretch

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which GHS won 17 of 23 games, but that it was a complete team effort in which every player had a role.

"The reason we were successful and able to turn around our season is that they learned to play together as a team. Everyone contributed to the team in some way," McCartey said.

The first game of the tournament was not a good one for the Lady Tigers as they were matched up with Athens, who ended the tournament as the state runner-up to Hazel Green.

The Athens team scored eight runs in the first and then played good defense on their way to the opening round victory.

The Lady Tigers got on the board in the fifth when SaRhonda Hawkins, Kayla Crenshaw and Kalette Mixon scored. But, the game belonged to Athens by that time, as they cruised to a 20-3 victory.

In the loser's bracket, the Lady Tigers were matched with Dallas County for the second game on Friday afternoon. They eliminated Dallas County with a 21-10 win.

Dallas County jumped out to the early lead as they scored four in the first inning. They held a 4-0 lead until the third inning when Greenville exploded for ten runs.

Jade Hill, Sophia Ruffin, Velecia McKee, Tabitha Lawley, Hawkins, K. Crenshaw, Jessica Crenshaw, Mixon and Claire Shrantz all scored. Hill, who led of the inning, scored twice as GHS took a 10-4 lead.

In the bottom of the third, Dallas County cut the lead to 10-7 and then tied the game at ten with three more runs in the fourth.

In the top of the fifth, Greenville took advantage of several fielding errors as they batted around, scoring 11 runs to take a 21-10 lead. Hill, Ruffin, Lawley, Hawkins, K. Crenshaw, J. Crenshaw, Mixon and Shrantz each scored in the inning. Hill and Shae Hartman, who came on to pitch in the game, scored twice.

Dallas County got a runner to third in the bottom of the fifth, but were unable to score the needed run to continue the ballgame as they game ended on the ten-run rule.

On Saturday morning, Greenville was unable to get anything going against Etowah as they were shut out 6-0.

Etowah scored one run in the first, three in third and two more in the fifth enroute to the victory.

McCartey said he believed the young Greenville softball team will be able to use their experiences from this season to have a stronger team next year.

"I think we can make it back to that level next year. Making it to the finals will serve as great experience to carry with us into next season," he said.

McCartey said the team will miss the experience and leadership of Lawley, who was the team's only senior.

"She (Lawley) and I began here at the same time. My first year as coach was her first year as a player. She developed into a great leader and demonstrated sportsmanship in everything she did. She was a reliable first baseman, which is important when you have younger players throwing to first. When she is at first you knew that she was going to catch anything that came her way. She also finished second in batting average on the team so we will miss her at the plate as well," he said.

Since McCartey has been the coach of the softball team, the Lady Tigers have improved their record each year.

A big part of this year's success was the hitting at the top of the lineup.

"Our first four or five batters really hit well for us through the season. Hill, Ruffin, McKee, Lawley, Hawkins and (Kayla) Crenshaw produced a lot of runs and the rest of the order was not bad. Our team has really improved offensively this year and hopefully we will carry that over to next season," he said.

On defense, the play of J. Crenshaw saved the Lady Tigers many runs and probably a few wins. The pitching also proved to be an advantage for Greenville over most of their competition.

"We were lucky because we have two quality pitchers that I could go to at anytime," he said. "Most teams have one good pitcher, but we could use Crystal (Parmer) and Shae (Hartman) which helped us a lot. They are both good pitchers. I never had to worry about putting either one of them out there to pitch."

McCartey said that even with the 4-17 start, he always felt his team had the talent to be competitive and win ballgames.

"I thought they had the talent to play with anybody. Earlier in the season, I do not think they were playing to their full potential and ability. What they have been able to accomplish this season has not surprised me," he said.