Love watches Lily Stubbs pitch during a preseason scrimmage
Softball teams look to pick up where they left off
By Michael Butler
Both Tallassee and Elmore County's softball teams were on top of the world - or at least the state. The Tigers were ranked No. 1 in the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 5A poll. The Panthers were No. 1 in 4A. Both feats were unprecedented in the history of the programs. Then, the seasons ended.
The 2020 cancellation of spring sports was due to the COVID pandemic. There would be no post-season putting an end to championship dreams for teams like Tallassee and Elmore County.
"We both were playing pretty good when the season ended," THS head coach Pat Love said. "We both were looking forward to the end of the year. When they canceled, it was rough on both of us."
Tallassee ended its season at 15-1 on a 15-game win streak. Elmore County was 16-3.
"All these girls have played together," Segrest noted. "To see two schools 10-15 minutes apart be No. 1 in the entire state in different classifications was great."
With 2021 comes new life and hope that this season will begin and end as scheduled. The two schools will compete in the same classification this year with Elmore County's move up to 5A.
Segrest celebrating one of his two state titles at Edgewood
"We're not in the same area," Segrest said of the change. "If we're able to advance to the regional, we'd be in the same regional in Tuscaloosa. It would be neat for both teams to get to the state."
Love and Segrest began coaching many of the same girls when they were first picking up the game of softball.
"They've come a long way," Love said.
"It's pretty neat to see the level of talent in this area," Segrest said. "Pat's a good friend of mine. Our wives are friends. Even though we're competing schools, we talk a good bit. It's a good relationship."
The expectations will remain high in '21 for both programs.
"We lost seven seniors. We lost our two pitchers," Love said. "We've got some other seniors. My daughter Lexi Love and Ella Thrash are veterans. We've got some juniors that are going to step up. We've got Belle Haynes and Chloe Baynes. We've got Chloe Davidson and Avery Lumpkin. It's their turn to be leaders. They've been the younger ones all these years."
"We lost three seniors, one starter from last year," Segrest added. "We've got a lot returning. We're going to really lean on our senior class. Madison Britt is a big-hitting first baseman. Maci Curlee is a pitcher who's thrown a lot of innings. Ebone Pearson's a great defensive second baseman. Kelley Green will be a leadoff and centerfielder for us."
The seasons begin for both teams with a conjunctive tournament in Tallassee and Eclectic this weekend.
"We've got nine teams coming in," said Love. "We're going to have four games at each park on Friday at 2, 4, 6 and 8. We'll come back in on Saturday with five games at each park; 9, 11, 1, 3 and 5. Some teams are going to flip flop during the day. Everybody plays four games."
"A lot of the tickets will be on GoFan," Segrest pointed out. "It's unique. I think you've got two of the top teams in 5A, potentially. You're not going to get that very often. Come out and watch these girls play. A lot are going to be playing at the next level on both teams."