Gaston remains in hunt at North Regional


Gaston’s Abby Elrod tags out Ider’s Shelby Hawkins on a stolen base attempt during the Class 2A North Regional softball tournament at the Metro Kiwanis Sportsplex in Huntsville on Friday. (Photo by Nick Johnston | Gadsden Times)


HUNTSVILLE — Gaston’s surprising run in the postseason will continue for another day.

The Bulldogs defeated Red Bay 7-6 Friday in the Class 2A North Regional softball tournament to secure a spot in Day 2 of the rain-delayed tournament.

The victory came in the losers’ bracket of the double-elimination tournament, as they fell to No. 5 Ider 11-0 earlier in the day at the Sportsplex in Huntsville.

“These girls, and we’ve been saying it all year long, they will not quit, no matter what,” Gaston coach Jay Williams said. “They just keep digging and digging.”

The Bulldogs shocked No. 8 West End in the Area 13 tournament to secure a spot in the North Regional. What makes Gaston’s run even more impressive is that it has “eight, maybe nine wins” on the season, according to Williams.

“We don’t have many wins, but the ones we’re getting, we’re learning from,” he added.

What Williams’ Bulldogs had to learn Friday was how to finish a game under the bright lights — and intense pressure — of the regional tournament.

Gaston took advantage of multiple errors and timely hits to jump out to a 7-1 lead against Red Bay through four innings. But the Tigers battled back, getting two runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth.

Gaston pitcher Allyson Britton, though, came up big to keep the tying run from scoring in the sixth. With a runner on third and just one out, Britton got Kloie Mills and Audrey Gross to ground out to keep the Bulldogs in front by a run.

Then in the seventh, after Britton allowed a one-out walk, Gaston catcher Kara Ragan gunned down Kaitlin Robbins trying to get in scoring position by stealing second.

Gaston was scheduled to face Lexington at 11 a.m. Saturday, but that game may be pushed back to the afternoon.

There was a 51⁄2 hour delay at the start of the tournament because of heavy rains, and with some teams not able to complete their second game Friday, those teams will have to finish this morning.

Williams said he feels like his team has a chance to keep its season alive.

“If our girls do what they can do, we can play some more games tomorrow,” he said. “We can be around a little bit longer.”

Gaston showed what it was capable of against Red Bay, grabbing a 2-1 lead after the first inning when Darby Samples scored on an error after doubling and Britton drove home Madison Reaves with an RBI single.

Then in the fourth, three straight errors by Red Bay helped the Bulldogs cash in. Abby Elrod stole home, Reaves’ RBI single scored Ragan, Samples crossed on a groundout by Heather Short and Britton singled home Reaves to send Gaston out to a 6-1 lead.

Ragan score what proved to be the game-winning run on Samples’ RBI single in the fourth.

Samples went 3 for 4 with two doubles. Britton went 2 for 3 and also earned the win in circle. She allowed six runs on six hits.

Earlier in the day, Gaston’s game with Ider (32-16-1) was scheduled to be played at 8 a.m., but the teams did not take the field until 1:30 p.m.

The Hornets started strong, getting a two-run homer by Courtney Blevins in the first inning to help her own cause. She also earned the win, allowing two hits and striking out one in three innings of work.

The Hornets scored four runs in first, five more in the second and one each in the third and fourth innings.

For Gaston, Elrod, Short and Britton each had hits.