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Hillcrest softball bows out in Class 6A tournament


Hillcrest's Callie Brister congratulates a Dothan player following their loss to Dothan. Brister hit her 27th home run of the season against Dothan, but it wasn't enough in a 6-4 loss. (Photo by Stewart Gwin)


MONTGOMERY | Senior shortstop Callie Brister hit her 27th home run Saturday, but the Hillcrest softball team needed more to stay in the AHSAA Class 6A tournament.

Dothan got two runs in the sixth inning and one in the seventh to defeat the Lady Patriots 6-4 at Lagoon Park.

Brister hit five homers in the tournament, two each against Baker and Sparkman.

Hillcrest, the Area 9 champion and North Central Regional runner-up, finished the season with a 48-14 record. Brister and outfielder Caitlyn Freeman were the only seniors, and coach Ted Swinney and his players were making their first appearance in the state tournament.

"There is something to being there," Swinney said. "We accomplished so many things this year that haven’t been done for Hillcrest that I know of. We were ranked in the nation at one point. We were ranked second in the state. We won a Gulf Shores tournament. We went to the Patriot Classic and went to the championship game. We won our area for the first time since 2005 or 2006 or something.

"There was a lot of firsts. We were kind of hoping that this could be a first also. We’re proud of the season we had. We can absolutely hold our heads up high. The ball didn’t bounce our way today, but we’re OK with that because we gave it everything we had."

Dothan overcame a 5-4 deficit as two runners scored on bases-loaded walks in the sixth. The Lady Tigers added a run on an error in the seventh.

Kasey Cooper pitched a complete game to get the win. She allowed six hits and seven walks and struck out 12. Sophomore Allison Freeman (24-9) took the loss. She gave up 11 hits and four walks and struck out six.

Hillcrest took a 2-0 lead in the first when Samantha Cummings reached first on an error with the bases loaded.

Dothan got single runs in the second and third innings. The Lady Tigers took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth on a homer by Toni Anderson.

Brister’s homer in the fifth tied it, and the Lady Patriots took a 5-4 lead on an RBI single by Freeman.

Swinney said Dothan made "two incredible plays" to cut down runners at the plate. One occurred on a wild pitch as catcher Denise Anderson retrieved the ball and flipped it to Cooper, who applied the tag.

Hillcrest got what appeared to be an RBI single, but shortstop Haley Futch ranged behind third base and threw to the plate for an out.

"We were aggressive on the bases just like we have been all year, and we weren’t going to change that," Swinney said. "That’s just being aggressive, and that’s them executing and we’re fine with that. They made the plays when they had to.

"I thought we battled every second of the game, and that’s all you can ask for as a coach."

 

Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.