Friday, April 19, 2024

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Patriots primed for softball postseason after conference domination

By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

It’s clear that Southern Alamance’s softball team was unrivaled in dealing with its DAC-VII Conference competition.

Now the Patriots take aim toward a potential second state championship in three years.

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“We can keep climbing the ladder and get to the top,” shortstop Greta Hessenthaler said.

Just like the regular season was a process, so is dealing with the postseason. Coach Jon Russell said he hopes this past week’s three-game slate that included two wins in the conference tournament was good preparation.

“This is postseason feel for us,” Russell said. “It kind of preps you for what’s to come.”

Southern Alamance capped the DAC-VII Conference portion of its season by defeating visiting Northern Durham 11-1 in five innings in Friday night’s league tournament final.


See box score against Northern Durham HERE


The Patriots had variety when it came to home runs. Hessenthaler and winning pitcher Rylee Humble blasted balls over the fence, while Maycee Tickle had an inside-the-park version.

Southern pitcher Rylee Humble

Humble finished with six runs batted in, while Hessenthaler also had a triple. Kayla Wilson and Abagail Holt both scored three runs.

For Southern’s four seniors, this is the last go-around with the Patriots, so they’re aiming for it to last into June.

“We’re all excited,” Hessenthaler said. “None of the seniors want it to end.”

[Story continues below photo.]


SOUTHERN SENIORS:

Southern Alamance seniors, from left, Greta Hessenthaler, Jayden Smith, Emma Greeson and Mallory White pose after a game last week.

Southern (20-3) had to take the proper steps the past few weeks, but the state playoffs are what really matters for this group.

“Having something to look forward to,” outfielder/catcher Jayden Smith said.

The camaraderie among teammates sticks out in many of the players’ minds. It makes the time on the field all worth it.

“Just coming out here and working and grinding,” outfielder Emma Greeson said. “Hoping to go far this year.”

Catcher Mallory White says the Patriots have had the right mix.

“Being a team and working hard,” White said. “We want to compete and look forward to see where it takes us.”

Southern was without injured first baseman Ava Duggins during the conference tournament. Russell said she could be back early in the state playoffs.

Two years ago, Southern won the Class 3-A title. This spring, it will be in the Class 4-A bracket.

While the Patriots frequently won by romps – only six of their victories had single-digit margins – there was plenty accomplished, Russell said.

“I feel you’ve got to get to a certain point with games played to get a sample size,” he said.

Next, Southern will see how it sizes up. The first playoff game is Tuesday, May 9, at Southern; opponent to be announced.

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