Sand Rock wins pair at North Regional tourney


Sand Rock’s Madison McCullough steals second as Fyffe’s Mallory Stiefel catches a throw and Lora Brown looks on during play Friday in the Class 2A North Regional softball tournament. (Photo by Nick Johnston | Gadsden Times)


HUNTSVILLE — Josh Bates likes what he’s seeing.

“We’ve hit our peak at the right time,” the Sand Rock softball coach said after his sixth-ranked Wildcats won a pair of games in the Class 2A North Regional high school tournament Friday.

With victories over Fyffe and Lexington, Bates’ squad stands just one win away from qualifying for next week’s state tournament in Montgomery.

The Wildcats (29-7) will play top-ranked Hatton on Saturday morning. A loss would send them to the losers’ bracket, where they would have to win one more game in the double-elimination tourney for a spot at state.

“Tomorrow’s going to be a big task,” Bates said. “We’re playing the defending 2A state champions, and we know what we got to do.

“If we can play like we played tonight, I think we can give them a heck of a ballgame.”

Sand Rock opened the day with a 5-2 win over Fyffe before beating Lexington 8-2. The Wildcats hit four home runs on the day — two by Madison Smith and one each by Taylor Rogers and Hannah Oliver.

Oliver’s came against Lexington in the sixth and was the senior’s first career homer. In the first inning against the Bears, Smith belted a two-run dinger and helped the Wildcats take a 4-0 lead into the second inning.

Sand Rock also flexed its muscle early against Fyffe, as Smith and Rogers both hit two-run homers in the first inning. Madison McCullough’s RBI single in the fifth gave the Wildcats their final run against the Red Devils.

McKenna Morgan earned the win in both games, while Rogers pitched two innings of each contest and shut down both opponents.

The Wildcats’ defense also was solid from Bates viewpoint.

“That’s two ballgames in a row that they’ve played outstanding,” he said. “We’ve got girls diving all over the place to make plays. That’s what it’s going to take for us to win.”