Championship Softball: Tallassee and Elmore County are among the eight Class 5A qualifiers in the hunt for a state title this week in Oxford. It's the Tigers' first time in the state tourney in the fast-pitch era. It will be the third time around for the Panthers.
Back in the slow pitch days, Tallassee was a perennial contender. THS head coach Jacqueline Hinson put the Tigers on the map in the 1980s.
The team, in its infancy as a program, went 11-2 in 1987 with a fifth place finish in the state tourney. In '88 they were 19-4 and fourth in the state. The '89 record was 13-7 with a third place finish at state.
Now in this new era of softball, the Tigers are a state power again. They were denied an opportunity at a state title due to COVID last year, although they were 15-1 and ranked No. 1 in 5A when the season ended prematurely. The same can be said for Elmore County, which was the 4A No. 1 team in 2020 when everything stopped.
Should the success of the two programs be a surprise? Certainly not. We all saw this coming. The players on both squads have been winning tournaments since their early days as softball players.
Their coaches have been coaching them since those early days. Both Pat Love and Mark Segrest have enough trophies to fill several closets.
I was going through some of our file photos - back when these young ladies were little girls from six- to eight-years old. There they were with their championship trophies and those same guys - Love and Segrest.
|2013 photos: Segrest's 8u team (left) and Love's 10u team
The programs are intertwined in so many ways with the players and the coaches. Some have been teammates with several who they'll be competing against this week.
It's exciting for the two communities that are a softball's throw apart.
Remember when Notasulga and Reeltown went to Birmingham to settle the Class 1A state football championship? Well here we go again. It's just a couple of different teams in a different venue a few decades later.
That trip to Legion Field was fun 20 years ago. I'm looking forward to visiting Choccolocco Park on Tuesday. Now if I can just learn how to say it.
1300 WTLS/106.5 FM will have live coverage. This won't be the first time we've broadcast a title tournament with these girls. We traveled to South Carolina when several of these same players won a 10U Dixie Youth World Series.
It's going to be fun. We'll have a word with the coaches and hopefully some players from the park on Tuesday during the "Wake-Up Call" morning show. Games get started at 9.