By Molly Seales
Sometimes in sports, as in life, you have to sit back and wait for your time. For three Lady Rebel softball players, that time came this week. Unsung heroes emerged as the Lady Rebels blew through the South AA Tournament, compiling a record of 4-0 as they brought the title and the blue trophy home to East Point. 8th grader Julia Grace Riggs got the call Saturday when teammate, 3rd baseman Kylie Donald was out due to illness. Riggs stepped up big, picking up 3 hits and 2 RBIs in the tournament, as well as playing stellar defense at 3rd base. Junior pitcher Jessie Kate Cobb who has been Riverdale’s ace all season struggled early in the championship game against Humphreys. In the 1st inning, junior Emma Clemons was called in from the bullpen to take over in the circle. Clemons looked like a seasoned pro and seemed like she was under no pressure as she picked up the win in the game. She pitched 5 1/3 innings, struck out 5 batters, and allowed only 3 earned runs. Cobb re-entered the game in the final inning to get the save. Quite possibly the biggest Cinderella story of the tournament was freshman Haylee Smith. In the semifinal game, senior outfielder Rylee Kate Woodard injured her collar bone in a collision at first base and was unable to return to that game or the championship game. Smith, who had seen very little varsity playing time this year, knew what she had to do and left her mark in Sterlington. In addition to a crucial catch of a fly ball in the outfield, Smith picked up 3 hits, including a double and a triple, drove in 4 runs, and scored 3 times. Perhaps the moment she will never forget was her last at bat in the bottom of the 7th inning in the championship game. With 2 outs and the score tied 15-15, Smith knew it was her moment. She put a hard-hit ball into play, which was bobbled by the Humphreys defense, allowing Clemons to come home and score the winning run. The Lady Rebels played some of the best team softball of their lives!
In their first game Saturday, the Lady Rebels made easy word of the Rebul Academy Lady Raiders. It took the Lady Rebels only 3 innings to defeat the Raiders 17-2. Jessie Kate Cobb picked up the win in the circle, allowing only 2 hits, 0 earned runs, and striking out 4 batters. Senior Renee Prosperie did the most damage at the plate, going 3 for 3 with 3 RBIs. Senior Rylee Kate Woodard was also 3 for 3 in the game, including a double and an RBI. Freshman Jadyn King had 2 hits and 2 RBIs, while Emma Clemons tripled and had an RBI. Cobb and 8th grader Hanna Catherine Huddleston each had a hit and an RBI. Julia Grace Riggs added a hit.
Their next opponent of the day was Prentiss Academy, and once again, the Lady Rebels came out ready to play. Once again, it took only 3 innings for the Lady Rebels to take care of business, defeating Prentiss 18-3. Cobb got the win in the circle, striking out 6 batters while allowing only 2 hits and 1 earned runs. King had 2 hits and 2 RBIs, while Cobb and Clemons each went 2 for 2 with an RBI each. Huddleston added a hit and 2 RBIs, while Prosperie and 8th grader Mary Claire Jones each added a hit and an RBI. Woodard added a hit. These two wins sent them into Monday’s winner’s bracket.
At 11:00 a.m. on Monday, September 27, the Lady Rebels took on the Briarfield Lady Rebels and showed them there was only room for one Rebel team on the field, and that team was Riverdale. Riverdale defeated Briarfield 17-5 in 5 innings. Cobb picked up the win, going all 5 innings. She struck out 4 batters, allowed 4 hits and only 3 earned runs. Clemons had 2 hits, including a double, and 2 RBIs, and Cobb also had 2 hits and 2 RBIs. Haylee Smith had a double with 3 RBIs, while Julia Grace Riggs had a triple with an RBI. Huddleston had a hit, while Prosperie and freshman Chloe Jordan both had a hit and an RBI. King added 2 RBIs while Woodard, and Jones each added an RBI. This win set the stage for the championship game with Humphreys Academy. If the Lady Rebels could gain one more victory, the South AA Championship would be theirs.
The Lady Rebels were the home team, and as the game began, Cobb uncharacteristically struggled a little, quite possibly from the heat and fatigue of throwing 3 stellar games in just a little over 48 hours. She got the start, and Emma Clemons came in during the last 1/3 of the first inning. This nail biter went on the full 7 innings with Riverdale hanging on to win 16-15 in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the 7th inning. Clemons picked up the win for the Rebels, while Cobb re-entered and got the save. The Lady Rebels had an outstanding 20 hits in the championship game. With fellow senior Woodard out due to an injury, Prosperie stepped up big and showed senior leadership. She had 4 hits and 3 RBIs in the game. Haylee Smith had 2 hits, including a triple, and an RBI. Cobb had 3 hits and 3 RBIs, while Jordan also had 3 hits, including a double, and an RBI. King and Jones each had 2 hits and 2 RBIs, while Huddleston had 2 hits and an RBI. Riggs added a hit and an RBI, while Clemons had a double and an RBI.
The Lady Rebels had an outstanding 2 days of play. In four games, they stole a total of 27 bases, with courtesy runners 8th grader Gracie Stephens and sophomore Sky McMullan getting their job done on the base paths, collecting 7 of those stolen bases between the two of them. The Lady Rebels had 111 total at-bats and struck out only 11 times.
The Lady Rebels enter the Class AA Tournament, which will be held beginning Saturday in Magee, MS, as a number one seed. They will play their first game Saturday at 11:00 a.m. If the Lady Rebels continue to play like they have been, they are expected to be strong contenders to bring home the Class AA trophy to East Point. Good luck ladies! We are so proud of you all!