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West Alabama travel team wins second tourney

For the second time in as many weeks, the West Alabama 16U USSSA travel ball team went on the road and earn a first place trophy. This time, the West Alabama Woodpeckers picked up a weekend win in the Tuscaloosa-based Post 34 Memorial Day tournament at Hillcrest High School

“It was great competition,” West Alabama 16U head coach Bart Butler said. “Anytime you play Post 34 team, they always run out quality players.”

While the team was scheduled to begin its tournament play Friday night, inclement weather pushed its first game back to Saturday.

In that contest, West Alabama lost 8-3 to Post 34’s Navy team. In that game, Marengo Academy’s Matt Etheridge went 2-for-4 with a double, and RBI and two runs scored. Demopolis’ Alex Sturdivant had a double, an RBI and a run scored. The Woodpeckers starting pitcher struggled, but Morgan Academy’s Austin Anderson worked two scoreless innings in relief.

In the second game Saturday, West Alabama defeated Post 34’s Red team 10-4. Demopolis High’s William Stewart scattered six hits over five innings of work for the win in that contest. Teammate and schoolmate Logan Holley relieved him, allowing one run on one hit over two innings of work.

Marengo Academy’s Jacob Dunn went 2-for-4 with an RBI in the game. Joey Raybon of Meadowview Christian Academy went 3-for-4 with a double, three runs and an RBI. Anderson went 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs. Sweet Water’s Brett Davis scored a run. Demopolis High’s Taylor Polk had a double, two RBIs and two runs scored. Sweet Water’s Linc Luker went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.

The kept its momentum going Sunday, defeating the Tuscaloosa Tide 9-7. Morgan Academy’s Crawford Traylor started that game, but left with an injury after two innings. Demopolis High’s Chase Cameron pitched four innings of relief, allowing only two hits and striking out eight over that stretch. He remained in the game until weather postponed play in the sixth inning.

“They handled it great,” Butler said of the distractions brought about by the weather. “They showed up at all times and got ready to play. They stayed focused the whole weekend.”

When play resumed Monday, West Alabama sent Stewart to the mound to close out the win. Etheridge went 2-for-4 in the contest with two doubles, two runs scored and two RBIs. Sturdivant, Anderson and Demopolis High’s Kole Thrasher each scored a run. Cameron went 1-for-3 with a double, a run and an RBI. Raybon was 2-for-4 with two runs score and an RBI. Dunn doubled and had an RBI. Stewart had an RBI single and scored a run.

In the championship game, West Alabama avenged its only loss, defeating Post 34’s Navy team 9-0.

In that game, Linc Luker tossed six shutout innings, scattering five hits and striking out five.

“Linc did a great job,” Butler said. “He kept the ball down. He worked out of trouble in the first inning with a double play ball. Then he pitched around a baserunner in the second and it was smooth sailing from there.” Anderson pitched a scoreless seventh to preserve the shutout.

Etheridge went 1-for-3 with a run. Thrasher was 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. Cameron went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Raybon went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs and two RBIs. Mason Rogers went 2-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs. Holley was 1-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. Davis went 1-for-3 with an RBI. Polk scored a run while Demopolis’ Daniel Sturdivant recorded a hit.

“That was probably our best played game all season,” Butler said. “We had 12 hits, scored nine runs and didn’t make an error. You’re not going to get beat many times when you do that.”

Through two tournaments, the West Alabama team has amassed a 7-1 record and two first-place finishes. However, Butler said the real returns have shown in practice.

“The two (tournament) wins have just been the reward for the hard work they’ve put in the three weeks of practice,” Butler said. “I’m seeing a lot (of improvement). They’re wanting to learn and wanting to get better.”

The team will play again in the state tournament warm-up at Hoover June 12.