Celebrating the Regional Title
Softball Tigers' season ends
By Michael Butler
The Tallassee High School softball team went beyond where any other Tigers' team had been before in the fast-pitch era, but a state championship was just beyond their reach. THS lost two one-run games at the state tournament in Oxford, ending its season with a 34-13-4 record.
Tallassee dropped the opener vs. Ardmore on Tuesday, 6-5. They then fell in eight innings to Alexandria 3-2. Alexandria also put out Elmore County 9-5 on day one. Ardmore went on to the state title game, losing to Satsuma 6-1 for the 5A crown.
"We had a great season," head coach Pat Love said. "It did not end up the way we wanted but still was a great season."
Love's team, like all other spring sports teams, had their season end mid-season last year. That had fans of the program wondering what might have been, as Tallassee finished the short season with a 15-1 record and a No. 1 ranking in 5A.
Tallassee has won 149 games in Love's five seasons at the helm. They were area champions and the West Region No. 1 qualifier in 2021, in addition to the program's first state tourney berth in the modern era.
The Tigers' top eight finish is the best since the slow pitch days of softball under Jacqueline Hinson. Hinson's teams had three straight top five finishes from 1987-89 (1987: 11-2 (5th), 1988: 19-4 (4th), 1989: 13-7 (3rd)).
In the loss to Ardmore, the Tigers grabbed their first lead in the bottom of the third on Lexi Love's double making it 3-2.
Ardmore regained the advantage in the top of the fifth with Bo Riley's two-run double. The lead was short-lived though, as Tallassee countered in the bottom of the inning with a run-scoring triple by Chloe Davidson to even it a 4-4.
Ardmore added two in the top of the seventh for a 6-4 advantage. Chloe Baynes scored in the Tigers' final at-bat on Belle Haynes groundout to short. Tallassee left two stranded on the final out for a 6-5 result.
A couple of errors proved costly in the defeat as Davidson took the loss in relief of Alexis Walls. Davidson led the Tigers at the plate with two hits.
Against Alexandria, Tallassee got behind early again but fought back with a two-run fifth to go ahead 2-1. Baynes' single scored two, but the Valley Cubs answered with a run of their own in the bottom half on a sac-fly RBI off the bat of Chloe Gattis.
The 2-2 score remained through seven innings as the game went into extras. Alexandria's Rylee Gattis hit a gapper to score Quenden Bowie in the bottom of the eighth to knock the Tigers out of contention. Davidson took the defeat going all eight innings. Love was 2-for-4 with a double at the plate.
Love and Ella Thrash are the only seniors on this year's squad. Both will play at the next level - Love at Chattanooga State Community College and Thrash at Central Alabama Community College.
"Our two seniors are are great leaders and are the reason for our team's success," Love added. "They have set the bar high for this program. They took this team to the state with their leadership."
The historic season ends for the Tigers but Love is optimistic about what is still to come.
"Our program making it to the state was awesome. We've never been there before, so now it's not a goal it's expected."