FLORENCE — The Lady Panthers, Aggies, Raiders and Pirates might have weathered the storm physically, but they couldn’t weather it metaphorically in the 2023 AHSAA North Regional softball tournament in Florence last week.
Teams battled through wet conditions, weather delays, reschedulings and extra innings, but in the end, all teams were knocked out of the tournament with two losses, bringing softball season to an end for Marion County.
The Marion County High School Lady Red Raiders were the first to play, taking on the Meek Tigers on Tuesday, May 9.
The Raiders took a 7-3 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning.
The Raiders scored two more runs in the bottom of the fifth, and went on to have a massive sixth inning where they scored eight runs.
Marion County only allowed six runs from the Tigers, and moved on to the second round.
The Hackleburg Lady Panthers were up next in their first round game against the Waterloo Cougars.
The Lady Panthers had the Cougars tied 5-5 during the fourth inning, but the Cougars started to pull away and gain the lead.
The Cougars ended up winning 12-8 and knocked the Lady Panthers into the loser’s bracket.
In the semi-final round, the Raiders fell 7-6 to the Cherokee Indians, and they joined the Lady Panthers in the losers’ bracket.
Earlier, the Lady Panthers had destroyed the Lynn Bears 12-2 in the first loser round, but now they would have to play the Raiders in the second round.
Only one Marion County team could advance, and the Lady Panthers would be that team with a close 5-4 victory over the Lady Red Raiders.
In the third loser round, Hackleburg was up against the Athens Bible Trojans.
The game was a hard-fought battle, as both teams played a solid defense.
Neither team scored a single run for seven innings, until the Trojans finally found the Lady Panthers’ Achilles heal and scored three runs during the eighth inning.
The Lady Panthers were unable to retaliate, and lost 3-0 to end their season.
Meanwhile, the Winfield Lady Pirates were also in a hard fight with the Madison Academy Mustangs.
The Lady Pirates caught back up 2-2 with the Mustangs in the sixth inning.
The Lady Pirates started their tournament run with a 7-3 loss to the Mars Hill Bible Panthers.
In the first loser round, the Lady Pirates defeated the Oakman Wildcats 12-2 to stay in the tournament, and another 7-1 victory over the Colbert County Indians kept them alive.
After a weather delay turned into a cancellation on Wednesday night, the Lady Pirates finally got their chance to take on the Mustangs on Thursday morning.
After catching up to tie the game 2-2 in the sixth inning, the Mustangs scored two more runs in the eighth inning, answered by only one run from the Lady Pirates.
The Lady Pirates, down by one, had one more chance to catch up, but an out at first, a caught bunt and a final strikeout ended their season with a 4-3 loss to Madison Academy.
Later on Thursday, the Hamilton Lady Aggies played the Brooks Lions, and lost their first game 2-1.
In the first loser round of the 4A tournament, the Lady Aggies stayed in the fight with an 8-6 victory over the West Morgan Rebels, despite yet another weather delay.
After all games at Florence were called off due to weather, the Lady Aggies traveled to Albertville to play the Priceville Lady Bulldogs on Saturday.
The game would prove to be Hamilton’s last for the season, as the Lady Bulldogs won 3-1.
See complete story in the Journal Record.