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USSSA 16U wins state

The West Alabama team added another trophy to its collection Sunday when it earned the USSSA 16U Alabama State Championship trophy at Montgomery’s Paterson Field.

“It’s a huge, huge win,” West Alabama head coach Bart Butler said. “Any time you win a state championship, it’s big.”

West Alabama opened its weekend with a 7-3 win Saturday over Montgomery’s Stix Baseball. West Alabama put together five runs in the first inning and scarcely looked back in that one, helping William Stewart to the victory. The Demopolis High School hurler tossed four innings, allowing three hits and three runs in the game.

Offensively, West Alabama backed up Stewart’s effort with a barrage of singles. Morgan Academy’s Crawford Traylor went 2-for-2 with two runs scored out of the leadoff spot. Demopolis’ Alex Sturdivant was 2-for-3 with two runs. Marengo’s Matt Etheridge put together a 2-for-3 day with a run and an RBI. Joey Raybon of Meadowview Christian was 1-for-3 with a run and two RBIs. Morgan’s Austin Anderson walked twice and scored once in the game.

In the second game of the day the West Alabama faced a strict time limit due to unfavorable weather conditions, losing to 6-3 to the Auburn Angels after only an hour and 15 minutes.

Demopolis’ Mason Rogers went 1-for-2 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. Traylor and Sweet Water’s Brett Davis each walked and scored.

“They responded great,” Butler said of the way his players overcame the loss and the circumstances to win the bracket. “We got done around 10 or so Saturday night, went back to the hotel and got some sleep and then had to play an 8 a.m. game Sunday morning. They could have very easily folded, but they got the job done.”

In the opening game Sunday West Alabama topped the Moody Cyclones 10-6.

Etheridge walked twice and score twice. Demopolis’ Kole Thrasher walked and scored. Raybon was 1-for-3 with a run. DHS’ Logan Holley walked twice and scored twice. Marengo Academy’s Jacob Dunn drew three walks and scored twice. Stewart walked twice and scored one. Demopolis’ Taylor Polk scored while Davis went 1-for-2.

That game set up a semi-final contest against Homewood. West alabama pounced on the Patriots for six runs in the fifth to take a 9-7 victory in that one.

Dunn worked two innings of relief and struck out four to pick up the win in that contest. DHS’ Chase Cameron fanned two over one inning of work to qualify for the save.

Etheridge went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a walk. Sturdivant was 1-for-4 with a run and and RBI. Raybon was 1-for-4 with a pair of RBIs. Rogers continued his hot hitting, going 2-for-2 with a double, a walk and two runs scored. Anderson went 2-for-3 with a double and a run. Thrasher went 1-for-3 with a run. Holley was 1-for-1 with a run scored and Demopolis High’s Wesley Anderson went 1-for-2.

The win shifted West Alabama to a championship date with the Northeast Alabama Valley Cats, an affair WA won 9-1.

“We got to where we wanted to get. We had Crawford (Traylor), Chase (Cameron) and Linc (Luker) all going on the championship day,” Butler said. “When you have pitching depth like that, it is hard not to do well in a tournament.”

Cameron pitched five innings, fanning seven and scattering three hits while allowing only one run to get the win in that contest.

Etheridge went 3-for-4 with a run scored. Sturdivant scored once after being hit by pitches twice. Raybon walked twice and scored once. Rogers doubled and scored. Austin Anderson went 1-for-1 and scored two runs after walking and being struck by a pitch. Dunn drew a pair of walks and scored once. Thrasher and Luker each walked and scored. Stewart went 1-for-2 with a double while also getting struck by a pitch.

“They just come out and try to get a little better everyday and it is starting to show,” Butler said. “Everything is starting to click with them and we are starting to put everything together now.”

The state tournament marked the fourth event of the summer for the squad. West Alabama has managed to win three of those four tournaments, finishing as the runner-up in Moody’s state warm-up last weekend.

“When I first got here a little over a month ago and I saw the first practices, I realized we were extremely athletic, but we had a lot of work to do,” Butler said. “To the kids’ credit, they did it and they are reaping the benefits now.”

The team will play again at Montevallo this weekend.