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JV Lady Cougars set sights on state title

SPECIAL TO THE JOURNAL: RAILEY AYERS

If you were to set your sights on the softball field at the end of Roy Beall Drive in Luverne, Ala., right before nightfall, you could probably see a number of things.

In early January, you would see Coach Eddie Billings repainting the dugouts, telling anyone who would listen that his JV team was going to have a shot at state, much to a number of onlooker’s disbelief.

In early February, you could see an absolutely drenched Coach Scotty Pennington hitting to the infielders in the pouring rain, trying to give instructions loud enough for the team to hear over the wind.

Mid-February, once the season started, you might see eighth grade shortstop Anna Lowe hit another in-the-park homerun. She has seven on the season.

You may see freshman outfielder Brittany Lester snatch a seemingly impossible fly ball out of the sky. She has 12 catches this season, including a game-winning catch with bases loaded against Sparta.

You could see fifth grade pitcher Abby Henderson on the mound with an unmistakable just-glad-to-be-here grin that is contagious to anyone wearing a Crenshaw jersey. She averages eight strikeouts per game.

You would probably see seventh grade pitcher/center fielder Reagan Lawrence steal home. She has so 10 times this season.

You might have seen eighth grader and life-long third baseman Becca Billings putting on catcher’s gear for the first time in her life, promising her coaches that she would do her best despite having never played the position. You would probably even see her go hug her sister, second baseman Aly Billings, after a good play. The two have a combined total of 23 outs in seven games.

Anyone fortunate enough to watch has seen history made. The Lady Cougars were the only 1A team in the Alabama Independent School Association (AISA) to claim a spot in the Junior Varsity state invitational that will be held at Macon-East Montgomery Academy on Friday and Saturday. They also hail as the only JV team from CCA to ever qualify for a spot in the invitational.

“Our JV has had a great season,” said Coach Pennington, “being one of the few teams selected for the JV invitational is a huge accomplishment. This is something for the program to build on.”  And build, they have- the team holds a 7-1 record.

“I am so proud of how far our team has come this year. We made great strides last year and built off of them this year to come out with one of the best records in the state. We are so blessed to have the never-ending support of our coaches who have believed in us and our potential, and spent so much time and effort with us this year. I believe our young team will do great in the future if we stick together, and that all starts now,” Lester said.

Don’t count the ladies of Crenshaw out just yet. The smallest school in the state tournament has some pretty big stats to boast. They average 11 runs per game, while their opponents average only six. They have come from behind to win five games, with two of them being from a deficit of five or more runs. They have scored the majority of their runs with two outs. Six of their starters double as starters on the varsity team. All nine of the team’s starters have scored at least four runs and have at least six base hits on the year.

Anna Lowe hemmed it up pretty well saying, “Our team has pulled together as one, and that is the reason we have had a successful season.”

The Lady Cougars will face 3A Macon-East on Friday at 12:30 p.m. for seeding.