Athens Bible coach Toney Vining knew what his team was up against after falling into the loser’s bracket of the Class 1A North Regional at Huntsville Sportsplex. The Trojans went into the loser’s bracket Saturday afternoon after losing to Tharptown 11-5.
ABS didn’t blink, winning three consecutive games to claim the Class 1A North Region championship and a place at the state tournament.
“I told them before we played (Tharptown) in the semifinal game that they (ABS) were 10 runs better than them,” Vining said. “I said, ‘Go out there and run-rule them,’ and they went out and beat them 12-2.”
The Trojans followed up that 10-run victory with an emotional, back-and-forth 12-7 win over Tharptown in the championship game. After ABS scored 5 runs in the first inning, Tharptown bounced back to tie the game in the third inning and pulled within one-run at 7-6 in the bottom of the sixth inning. With the score 7-6 in the top of the seventh inning, ABS poured in another five runs to seal the victory.
“I’m so proud of these kids and my coaches,” said Vining, who will take the team to state for the first time since 2008. “It’s been a dream season, I just hope it keeps going.”
ABS opened the tournament with a pair of wins over Belgreen and Decatur Heritage Friday. Following the loss to Tharptown, ABS beat DHA 8-3 and beat Tharptown 12-2 and 12-7 in back-to-back games.
Melissa Butler and Megan Davidson each had nine hits for ABS in the region tournament. Davidson had 30 strikeouts as the team went 5-1 over two days. Natalie Anderson, Anna Price, Courtney Etheredge, Anna Stinnett and Meredith Guthrie all had six hits each in the region tournament.
The Trojans return to the state tournament at Lagoon Park in Montgomery where they will play Fayetteville at 9 a.m. Thursday, May 17.
Other late region results
Athens and West Limestone were the other local teams to hang around late Saturday afternoon. Athens, the No. 3 team in Class 5A, won its opening games Friday before losing consecutive games to Lawrence County and Scottsboro. West Limestone lost to eventual region champ, Good Hope, 1-0 before winning consecutive games in the loser’s bracket. West was eliminated with an 8-7 loss to East Lawrence.