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West Alabama USSSA team finishes second in warm up

The West Alabama USSSA 16U team finished second in the state warm-up tournament at Moody High School last weekend, marking the team’s final test before it heads into the state draw Saturday.

In the first game of the Moody tournament, West Alabama defeated the Hatton Bombers 10-0 in four innings.

Demopolis High’s Chase Cameron struck out nine batters in four innings to pick up the win for West Alabama.

“He’s been throwing really well,” head coach Bart Butler said of Cameron. “We’ll probably start him in the championship game this weekend if we can make it that far.”

Marengo Academy’s Matt Etheridge went 1-for-3 in the contest with a double and and two runs scored. Demopolis’ Alex Sturdivant went 1-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. Morgan Academy’s Joey Raybon went 3-for-3 with a double, two RBIs and three runs scored. Meadowview’s Austin Anderson was 2-for-2 with two runs. Marengo’s Jacob Dunn went 1-for-3 with a run while Logan Holley of Demopolis was 1-for-1. DHS’ Daniel Sturdivant also scored in the contest.

West Alabama, ranked by a coaches’ vote as the No. 1 USSSA 16U team in the state, fell to the Northeast Alabama Valley Cats in the second game of the weekend. The Valley Cats, ranked second in the poll, capitalized on early mistakes by West Alabama to charge out to an early lead they never relinquished in a 7-1 win.

“We gave up six in the first two innings, made some errors and gave up some walks. It put us behind the 8-ball,” Butler said. “It was probably a lack of focus at the beginning. We got behind hitters and then we just didn’t make plays.”

With West Alabama trailing in the fourth, Demopolis’ William Stewart entered the game in relief. He struck out four over four innings of work while allowing only two hits and one run.

“He’ll probably start a game this weekend,” Butler said of Stewart. “He’s thrown the ball real well. Most people work off their fastball, but he has a great 12-6 curve we call a lot.”

Sweet Water’s Brett Davis singled and scored the only run of the game for West Alabama, crossing home on Etheridge’s RBI triple. Dunn also singled in the contest.

In the final game of the bracket, West Alabama defeated the hosting Moody Cyclones 7-1.

Morgan’s Crawford Traylor went 2-for-3 with a double and a run. Raybon went 1-for-2 with a double, a run and an RBI. Demopolis’ Mason Rogers went 1-for-3 with a home run and an RBI. Holley walked twice and scored once. Demopolis’ Kole Thrasher walked and scored. Stewart went 2-for-2 with two runs scored.

Sweet Water’s Linc Luker struck out seven hitters over four innings in one of his most dominant performances of the summer, surrendering only one run along the way. Anderson struck out two in his only inning while Etheridge fanned two in his lone frame.

West Alabama will travel to Montgomery Saturday to play in the USSSA 16U State Tournament at Paterson Field. West Alabama will be part of a three-team pool along with the Auburn Angels and Stix Baseball. The opposite pool consists of the Valley Cats, the Sardis Lions and the Cyclones of Moody. All teams will advance to Sunday’s single-elimination play with the top seed from each pool receiving a first-round bye.

Butler is hopeful his team’s success continues into this weekend’s play.

“They are doing situational hitting well,” Butler said of his players’ efforts. “Everything we’ve practiced hard at, we’ve done well in (during) the first three tournaments and the results have shown through.”