East Regional softball: Piedmont breaks through to state tourney

·7 min read

May 16—Piedmont softball's gradual climb in recent years reached what's believed to be a new height Saturday.

The Bulldogs rallied from a three-run deficit to beat area and Calhoun County rival Pleasant Valley 4-3 in the East Regional Class 3A elimination-bracket final at Montgomery's Lagoon Park, clinching a state-tournament berth.

It marks Piedmont's first state berth in the school's fast-pitch era, which started in 2002.

Piedmont (25-23-1) will play Mobile Christian on Friday at 10:45 a.m. at Oxford's Choccolocco Park as the East Regional's No. 2 qualifier. Beulah beat Piedmont 1-0 in the winners' bracket final earlier Saturday and will carry the region's top qualifying spot.

"It's been a goal of ours for several years," Piedmont coach Rachel Smith said. "It's something I guess, as a program, we've been working toward. It's a goal we set every year for every team."

Smith credited previous players who worked with current-day players in camps.

Piedmont has made regional six of the past seven years. The Bulldogs have also become a fixture on the final day of the three-day Calhoun County tournament. The final four teams play on the final day.

Piedmont was 9-2 when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted state education officials to shut down extra-curricular activities in 2020, and the Bulldogs returned their entire team.

Still, Pleasant Valley won the first five games between the two this season, including the Area 11 championship.

The Raiders lost to Beulah 2-1 in the East Regional's second round then beat Geraldine and Glencoe in the elimination bracket to earn the right to face Piedmont.

"Our girls figured a way to get it done," Smith said. "I told them before the game, this game would turn on will, determination and guts and whoever had the most gas left."

The Bulldogs overcame four errors by outhitting the Raiders 8-4.

Emily Farmer started in the circle for Piedmont, allowing four hits and no earned runs in six innings of work. She struck out three batters and walked two.

Savannah Smith pitched a perfect seventh inning to close it out.

Piedmont took the lead with two runs in the top of the fifth inning. Emily Farmer doubled home the go-ahead run.

Pleasant Valley took a 3-0 lead in the first inning, scoring two runs on a Bailey Harris grounder and one on Madyson Cromer's grounder.

Piedmont's comeback started with a two-run second inning, featuring Z'Hayla Walker's solo home run.

"Z'hayla had the home run, and that gave us a spark, and the girls kept on battling," Smith said. "We battled all year long, in every game we played.

"These girls have been in every game we've played, pretty much. We've been on the wrong end of some heartbreak games."

Pleasant Valley pitcher Leah Patterson, the reigning 1A-3A All-Calhoun County player of the year, worked into the fifth inning during her fifth pitching appearance of the tournament. She allowed four earned runs and walked six batters with three strikeouts.

Madison Borders finished, allowing four hits and no runs with three strikeouts over the final three innings.

Pleasant Valley played without center fielder and lead-off hitter Taylor Nix and left fielder Macey Roper, who moved to lead-off hitter after Nix's injury. Both suffered late-season knee injuries.

"I'm very proud of my group overcoming adversity and pulling together as a team and nearly doing what many thought was not possible," Pleasant Valley coach David Bryant said.

AHSAA state softball tournament

At Choccolocco Park

Pairings

CLASS 7A

Thursday

Hoover (31-14) vs. Sparkman (34-12), 9 a.m.

Hewitt-Trussville (45-2-1) vs. Baker (19-21), 9 a.m.

Fairhope (38-4) vs. Vestavia Hills (26-20), 9 a.m.

Bob Jones (35-4) vs. Thompson (40-7-1), 9 a.m.

Winners' bracket game, 1:30 p.m.

Winners' bracket game, 1:30 p.m.

Elimination game, 12:30 p.m.

Elimination game, 12:30 p.m.

Elimination game, 4 p.m.

Elimination game, 4 p.m.

Winners' bracket final, 5 p.m.

Friday

Elimination game, 9 a.m.

Losers' bracket final, 10:45 a.m.

Championship, 3 p.m. (if necessary follows)

CLASS 6A

Friday

Chilton Co. (29-17) vs. Athens (45-12), 9 a.m.

Springville (36-10) vs. Saraland (29-16-1), 9 a.m.

Spanish Fort (36-10) vs. Mortimer Jordan (21-20-1), 9 a.m.

Hazel Green (33-15) vs. Helena (46-12), 9 a.m.

Winners' bracket game, 12:30 p.m.

Winners' bracket game, 12:30 p.m.

Elimination game, 12:30 p.m.

Elimination game, 12:30 p.m.

Elimination game, 4 p.m.

Elimination game, 4 p.m.

Winners' bracket final, 4 p.m.

Saturday

Elimination game, 9 a.m.

Losers' bracket final, 10:45 a.m.

Championship, 1:30 p.m. (if necessary follows)

CLASS 5A

Tuesday

Tallassee (34-11) vs. Ardmore (31-16), 9 a.m.

Alexandria (39-10) vs. Faith-Mobile (28-4-3), 9 a.m.

Satsuma (31-9) vs. Sardis (22-17), 9 a.m.

Hayden (35-11) vs. Elmore Co. (42-13), 9 a.m.

Winners' bracket game, 12:30 p.m.

Winners' bracket game, 12:30 p.m.

Elimination game, 12:30 p.m.

Elimination game, 12:30 p.m.

Elimination game, 4 p.m.

Elimination game, 4 p.m.

Winners' bracket final, 4 p.m.

Wednesday

Elimination game, 9 a.m.

Losers' bracket final, 10:45 a.m.

Championship, 1:30 p.m. (if necessary follows)

CLASS 4A

Wednesday

Hamilton (31-20-1) vs. Rogers (41-11), 9 a.m.

Cleburne Co. (28-10) vs. LAMP of Montgomery (29-14), 9 a.m.

Alabama Chr. (24-19) vs. Etowah (33-9), 9 a.m.

North Jackson (36-15-1) vs. Haleyville (29-17), 9 a.m.

Winners' bracket game, 12:30 p.m.

Winners' bracket game, 12:30 p.m.

Elimination game, 12:30 p.m.

Elimination game, 12:30 p.m.

Elimination game, 4 p.m.

Elimination game, 4 p.m.

Winners' bracket final, 4 p.m.

Thursday

Elimination game, 9 a.m.

Losers' bracket final, 10:45 a.m.

Championship, 1:30 p.m. (if necessary follows)

CLASS 3A

Friday

Prattville Chr. (32-8) vs. Fyffe (27-13-2), 10:45 a.m.

Beulah (24-15) vs. Houston Aca. (42-6-1), 10:45 a.m.

Mobile Chr. (26-8) vs. Piedmont (22-18-1), 10:45 a.m.

Plainview (38-7-1) vs. Oakman (22-8), 10:45 a.m.

Winners' bracket game, 2:15 p.m.

Winners' bracket game, 2:15 p.m.

Elimination game, 2:15 p.m.

Elimination game, 2:15 p.m.

Elimination game, 5 p.m.

Elimination game, 5 p.m.

Winners' bracket final, 5 p.m.

Saturday

Elimination game, 10 a.m.

Losers' bracket final, 12:30 p.m.

Championship, 5 p.m. (if necessary follows)

CLASS 2A

Wednesday

Sumiton Chr. (41-14) vs. Pisgah (33-10), 10:45 a.m.

Spring Garden (28-9) vs. Orange Beach (31-9), 10:45 a.m.

G.W. Long (29-5-1) vs. Sand Rock (33-19), 10:45 a.m.

Mars Hill Bible (38-13) vs. Lamar Co. (28-25-1), 10:45 a.m.

Winners' bracket game, 2:15 p.m.

Winners' bracket game, 2:15 p.m.

Elimination game, 2:15 p.m.

Elimination game, 2:15 p.m.

Elimination game, 5:30 p.m.

Elimination game, 5:30 p.m.

Winners' bracket final, 5:30 p.m.

Thursday

Elimination game, 10:45 a.m.

Losers' bracket final, 12:30 p.m.

Championship, 5 p.m. (if necessary follows)

CLASS 1A

Tuesday

Holy Spirit (14-17) vs. Belgreen (25-18-1), 10:45 a.m.

Appalachian (22-7) vs. Pleasant Home (21-18), 10:45 a.m.

Brantley (28-12) vs. Cedar Bluff (14-24-1), 10:45 a.m.

Skyline (28-13-1) vs. South Lamar (27-16), 10:45 a.m.

Winners' bracket game, 2:15 p.m.

Winners' bracket game, 2:15 p.m.

Elimination game, 2:15 p.m.

Elimination game, 2:15 p.m.

Elimination game, 5:45 p.m.

Elimination game, 5:45 p.m.

Winners' bracket final, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday

Elimination game, 10:45 a.m.

Losers' bracket final, 12:30 p.m.

Championship, 5 p.m. (if necessary follows)

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.