brhs softball

BRHS’s Bailey Underwood swings at an Opelika pitch.

Opelika seemed to get the best of Benjamin Russell’s softball team, especially early on. The Bulldogs put three runs on the board before BRHS could even blink.

But the Wildcats weren’t discouraged, and they stormed back during Tuesday’s game, whittling away at the deficit. Eventually they took a lead in the bottom of the second inning and never looked back, earning an 8-4 victory and punching their ticket to the Class 6A Area 6 championship. BRHS, which is hosting the tournament, will likely have to take on Opelika again today, as long as the Bulldogs can defeat Russell County, which they did Tuesday, 9-1. The championship is scheduled for 4 p.m. with an if-necessary game to immediately follow.

“Now we just need to come out and do it again,” Benjamin Russell coach Jessica Johnson said.

After going down 3-0 in the top of the first on a pair of singles and a pair of errors, Benjamin Russell got to work at the plate. After two outs, Haylee Hunter smacked a single and she went to scoring position as Taylor McVey drew a walk. Hunter then scored on an error and a passed ball, and McVey also went home on a passed ball to cut Opelika’s lead to 3-2.

Asia McWaters struck out the side in the top of the second, giving her chance a team to take a lead in the home half of the frame.

“Asia looked really good,” Johnson said. “She was hitting spots and staying on the corners, not throwing that meat ball.”

To take the lead, Benjamin Russell took advantage of a bases-loaded walk and McWaters also helped her own cause with a sacrifice fly.

The Wildcats didn’t hit the ball a lot — they finished with just six hits — but they hit the ball hard. McWaters finished with a double and a triple, Hunter added another triple and Taylor Harris also smacked a double.

“We had some good at bats,” Johnson said. “We had some really big hits, and Baylee (Adkins) had a sacrifice bunt to get us started. So we looked more ourselves than we have. We just need everybody to get on that.”

Johnson will continue to look for a complete game from her Wildcats during today’s championship.

“The biggest takeaway is when you have to play somebody four times in a season, it’s tough to beat them; it doesn’t matter who it is,” she said. “Some of that is complacency, and add that on top of the fact Opelika had played a game right before, so they were ready. We didn’t come out like should. But we could’ve quit and we didn’t, so I’m happy about that.”

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.