Linden All-Star “Angels” pull out last-inning win at state

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 19, 2005

MONTGOMERY-Linden’s 9-and-10-year old “Angels” All-Star softball team is only a win away from playing for a state championship.

Despite a 14-4 loss Sunday evening to tourney favorites Hueytown, a dramatic come-from-behind win early Saturday morning against Sand Mountain means the Linden Angels are one of the last four teams alive in the tournament. An elimination game re-match with Sand Mountain was scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m., with the winner advancing to likely face Hueytown in the championship round.

Things didn’t look nearly so good for Linden entering the top of the sixth inning of their first game against Sand Mountain. The team from Albertville had scored a run in the second, a run in the third, and a run in the fourth to take a 3-0 lead and had Linden down to their final three outs.

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But Sand Mountain struggled with their control to start the sixth, as Taylor Barley, Hollie Pritchett, Chandler Stenz, and Katie Tucker each drew walks, Tucker picking up an RBI as Barley came home. Ally Vick then struck the game’s biggest blow, a three-run double that give Linden a sudden 4-3 lead.

But Vick was thrown out on the basepaths and despite singles from Alexia Johnson and Sarah Jones, Linden entered the bottom half of the inning clinging to just the one-run lead. Despite the pressure, Linden closer Stenz retired all three Sand Mountain batters to preserve the win and advance Linden to their Sunday match-up with Hueytown.

Stenz retired all six batters she faced in her two innings of work, building on the good performances turned in by Marti Breckenridge, who pitched the first and second innings, and Vick, who threw the third and fourth.

Breckenridge got Linden off to a similar good start against Hueytown, pitching a scoreless first with the help of a solid defensive play by shortstop Tucker. But Hueytown scored two in the second and two in the third to build a 4-0 lead.

Linden would then get back into the game with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the third. Breckenridge singled and moved to third on Conner Etheridge’s single, just beating the throw that allowed Etheridge to advance to second. With two outs, Barley delivered a clutch single to score both runners and cut the Hueytown lead in half, 4-2. Breckenridge’s run was the first one yielded by Hueytown in the tournament after they had shut out Enterprise and Underwood, and according to one spectator was the first they had allowed in 2005 after sweeping through their District tourney.

Unfortunately for Linden, they would not come any closer than two, despite two more excellent put-outs by Tucker to help Vick pitch a scoreless fourth. Hueytown erupted for six runs in the top of the fifth, increasing the lead to 10-2. Linden would respond with two in the bottom half, as Johnson drew a walk, Brooke Smyly singled, and Nicole Parten, Felesia Dukes, and Etheridge each drew walks to push Johnson and Smyly across and narrow the gap to six, 10-4. But four more Hueytown runs in the sixth put them up ten and despite walks from Pritchett and Stenz in the bottom of the inning, that would be the final margin.

Breckenridge, Vick, Stenz, and Smyly each took the mound for Linden against Hueytown. Linden’s pitching rotation played a big part in Linden’s success at the District 8 tournament in Grove Hill, where they finished an undefeated 6-0 including a 10-0 four-inning rout of Thomasville in the title game.

The Linden Angels All-Stars are Nicole Parten, Alexia Johnson, Sara Jones, Conner Etheridge, Hollie Pritchett, Felesia Dukes, Taylor Barley, Chandler Stenz, Ally Vick, Marti Breckenridge, Katie Tucker, and Brooke Smyly. They are coached by Dennis Breckenridge, Rusty Vick, David Wiggins, Erin Fodness, and Greg Parten.