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Tigers end season in area tourney

The McKenzie Tigers wrapped up the 2009 softball season with a strong showing in the area tournament, but that wasn’t enough to send the Tigers to the regionals.

In the first game of the tournament, McKenzie fell to defending state champion Kinston 14-1, but that score is slightly misleading.

The Tigers only trailed 4-0 after four innings, and Kinston blew the game open in the last half.

“They were just hitting it where we weren’t,” said head coach Miles Brown.

The second game was a nail-biter, with McKenzie pulling out an 11-10 victory over Florala in the eighth inning.

With the Wildcats ahead 10-9 in the bottom of the eighth, Aleshia Stuckey came across to tie the game.

Then Anna Howell came through with the game-winning hit that scored Kristen Ballard.

The Tigers then faced off against Kinston again in the losers’ bracket, and the Tigers trailed 3-0 in the second inning before the game was postponed because of rain.

Kinston returned ready to play on Wednesday and won the game 16-0.

The loss ended the Tigers’ season, and Brown’s first year as head coach.

“This was my first time coaching girls, and I was very skeptical going in,” he said. “But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Those are my daughters out there.”

Brown said he’s been proud of how the team played throughout the season.

“It’s been a great joy, and we’ve had some success,” he said. “There has been tremendous improvement since day one. I brought some new things in as coach, and they picked right up on them.”