The Fort Payne softball team captured area runner-up status after claiming a spot in this week’s AHSAA North Regional Tournament in Florence.
With a 4-2 loss to top-seeded Scottsboro in the Class 6A, Area 15 Tournament winners bracket final Friday, second-seeded Fort Payne will face Athens in the regional opener at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Florence Sportsplex.
On Friday night against Scottsboro, Fort Payne (30-13) was held scoreless through the first four frames before Cory Kramer smashed a solo home run across left field in the top of the fifth to pull her team within 2-1.
Scottsboro’s Amaya Whitson solo-homered to right field in the bottom of the fifth to make it 3-1, before Carlie Lynch scored on an Ella Lee single in the sixth to make it a three-score deficit.
Abby Phillips plated Fort Payne’s final run on an error in the top of the seventh, before a third strike at the plate ended the game.
Fort Payne finished with five hits to Scottsboro’s seven.
Olivia Tubbs recorded two hits and two RBIs and Whitson chipped in two runs for Scottsboro, as Alyssa Smart tossed a complete game with nine strikeouts and three walks.
Addison Eason took the loss in the pitching circle for Fort Payne, throwing one strike and walking one in five innings. AJ Kramer pitched an inning in relief, allowing one hit and no runs.
In the area semifinal Friday afternoon, Fort Payne defeated Arab 7-2 to secure its regional spot.
Phillips hit a solo home run in the fifth inning to cap the game’s scoring and ended the contest with three runs scored. AJ Kramer had two hits and scored two runs, Taylor Camp added two hits and Eason contributed two RBIs and scored a run.
The Wildcats moved to a 3-0 advantage in the second inning before Arab pushed across two runs in the third frame.
Fort Payne extended the margin with another three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Hannah Buffington scored on a groundout ahead of AJ Kramer reaching home on an error to make it 5-2. With two outs in play, Marcella Rentas followed with a triple that allowed Phillips to score.
AJ Kramer accounted for two hits and two runs scored, Camp added two hits and Rentas finished with two RBIs.
Kyleigh Thomas earned the win in three innings, striking out two while surrendering no walks and three hits.
The Knights’ Kaitlynn Robertson gave up eight hits, retired one and walked one in her complete-game effort.
Kinsley Lovelady led all Arab batters with two hits and an RBI.
On Thursday, Fort Payne defeated Arab 16-4 in its tournament opener before taking an 8-0 loss to Scottsboro in Game 2.
Against Arab, Buffington unleashed a four-RBI performance at the plate. Her batting achievements included a solo home run and a double with two runs scored in a 2-for-4 effort.
Buffington’s crushing homer over the center-field fence gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead in the opening inning.
Fort Payne capitalized on a bases-loaded situation in the bottom half of the second inning to extend the lead to 4-0. Phillips scored on an error by Scottsboro catcher Lovelady, and Rentas and Braden Barksdale plated runs on the same play.
The Knights quickly made up for the four-run deficit by tying the game in the third frame when Lily Livingston blasted a grand slam across left field.
The Wildcats responded with three additional runs in the bottom portion of the inning and took command of the lead for good. Emily Ellis scored on a Phillips single for the go-ahead run and a dropped third strike led to Eason scoring from third base. Phillips tagged home plate on the ensuing at-bat when Lovelady committed another error.
Barksdale tallied three hits and scored two runs for the Wildcats. Graidin Haas collected two RBIs on two hits and scored a pair of runs, Eason contributed two hits and two runs, Rentas added three runs and two hits and Camp chipped in two runs with an RBI.
In a complete game, Eason delivered four strikeouts and walked two while allowing three hits.
Arab’s Robertson took the loss in the circle, scattering 15 hits, sitting three and walking one.
In the following loss to Scottsboro on Thursday, Fort Payne was restricted to three hits and left six baserunners aboard.
AJ Kramer tossed a complete game for Fort Payne. She gave up nine hits, walked three and struck our five.
Scottsboro’s offensive output was highlighted by a five-run scoring burst in the second inning.
In her complete-game outing, Smart struck out 13 Fort Payne batters while surrendering no walks.
Olivia Tubbs registered three RBIs on two hits and scored a run for Scottsboro. Lexie Bennett had two RBIs on two hits with a run scored, Audrey Holland scored two runs, scattered two hits and added two RBIs. Holland homered twice and Tubbs homered once, while Bennett added a triple.