Glencoe beats Etowah 3-1

Glencoe’s Jensen Napper steals second base as Etowah’s Aimee Fancher waits for the ball during Thursday’s game. (Photo by Nick Johnston | Gadsden Times)

GLENCOE — Pitcher Jordan Sims knows there might as well be a target painted on the backs of the undefeated Glencoe Yellow Jackets.

“We try not to think about it,” she said of Glencoe being ranked No. 2 in the initial Class 3A softball poll released Thursday morning by the Alabama Sports Writers Association.

Everybody else certainly does when it’s time to step on the field against the Yellow Jackets — and that includes Etowah.

Glencoe got the Blue Devils’ best shot Thursday afternoon, but Sims and the Yellow Jackets held on for a 3-1 win to improve to 7-0 on the season.

It was the second time in five days the teams have squared off, with Glencoe beating Etowah (2-4) 1-0 in a tournament in Alexandria on Saturday.

“We knew they were a tough team,” Glencoe coach Amy Travis said. “We had seen them before and (this game) went as we expected.”

Glencoe gave Sims all the offensive support she needed in the first two innings. Jessica Rathje’s two-RBI double in the first scored Maddie Griggers and Jensen Napper. The Yellow Jackets made it 3-0 in the second inning on Griggers’ sacrifice fly to score Audrey Fort, who was running for Danielle Wilson.

But Etowah pitcher Madison Grant kept the Yellow Jackets in check from there, not allowing a Glencoe runner past second base the rest of the way.

“She gave up a couple of runs early, but then she settled in,” Etowah coach B.J. Jones said of Grant, who allowed nine hits and struck out four. “When she settled in, she pitched a great game. If we can hold a team to three runs, a good offensive team like Glencoe, we feel like we give ourselves a chance to win.”

Etowah had its chances but got only one run off Sims, who struck out six while allowing six hits. The Blue Devils’ run came in the third inning when Amber Jones laced an RBI double down the left-field line to score Nikki Rodgers, who reached earlier on a single.

Etowah loaded the bases in the fifth, but an infield flyout ended the threat.

Sims retired the final seven batters in order to seal the win.

“We had a lot better luck against (Sims) tonight as far as hits,” said Jones, whose team got just two hits against her in Alexandria. “We had opportunities with base runners on, but you just gotta be able to come through with that key hit.”

For Etowah, Rodgers went 2 for 3, and Jones went 2 for 4 while Bishop and Krislyn Farmer both had a hit.

Rathje, Sims and Chandler Harden each went 2 for 3 at the plate for Glencoe. Sally Tinker, Wilson and Rosie Hartline had one hit apiece.

Sims likes where her team is at this point in the season, but the key is humility.

“If we get cocky, that’s when it goes downhill,” she said. “It’s one game at a time, and we don’t want to look forward to anything else.”