Alexander City 8U All-Star

Alexander City's 8U All-Star softball team won its area championship for the second year in a row with a 12-9 victory over Millbrook on Saturday. Team members include Kyleigh Leonard, Ryleigh Ruffin, Heidi Fuller, Journey Brewer, Bentlee Mann, Averee Vick, Jaryah Coleman, Khylee Fleetion, Alex Carter, Jira Russell, Madison Morgan and Kirklynn Marable. Coaches are head coach Josh Brewer and assistants Raheem Ruffin, Demetrius Fleetion, Thomas Leonard and Cris Sparks.

Putting up more than 10 runs in all five of its games Saturday was the key to perfection for the Alexander City 8U All-Star softball squad. The girls went 5-0 including a narrow 12-9 win over Millbrook to earn their second straight area championship.

This put Alex City in great position heading into the state tournament, which begins Friday in Millbrook.

“I could not be any more proud of what our girls achieved this past weekend,” Alex City 8U coach Josh Brewer said. “We were not happy with last week’s third-place performance at our pre-area tournament. We knew we were a better team than that. During practice this week, we keyed in on correcting all the small mistakes we had previously made and learned how to do a better job of staying focused and not taking plays off.”

Alex City got off to a great start, defeating Reeltown, 21-0, and Chelsea, 15-1, in pool play to earn the No. 1 seed heading into single-elimination bracket play. Alex City picked up right where it left off, dominating Eclectic to the tune of 21-0 then defeated Dadeville, 19-4, in the semifinals.

Millbrook then put up a strong fight in the championship game, but Alex City came out on top earning a 12-9 victory.

“Winning an area championship for the second year in a row is not an easy thing to do, especially facing the competition we face,” Brewer said. “You have to realize, these are 7- and 8-year-old girls that have worked day in and day out for months and have given up over half of their summer in order to play the game of softball. When they accomplish something like this, it warms your heart just to know you played a small role in their success.”

While the offense was a clear team effort, there were several highlight-worthy performances. Ryleigh Ruffin went a perfect 14-for-14 at the plate with eight runs scored and a home run, and Kyleigh Leonard was just as productive going 14-for-15 with 13 runs scored. Journey Brewer contributed 11 hits, including one home run, and Heidi Fuller finished 10-for-11.

Defensively, Leonard was a big star in the pitching circle.

“(Jaryah) Coleman, Khylee (Fleetion), Brewer, Ruffin, (Jira) Russell and (Averee) Vick all made outstanding plays in the infield,” coach Brewer said. “Our outfield did a great job of catching the ball in the air, and when they couldn’t, they kept the ball in front of them and got it back in quick to allow giving up multiple bases.

Alex Carter, Madison Morgan, Bentlee Mann and Kirklynn Marable all made contributions on both sides of the ball as well.

“Honestly, we did not play our best game in the championship,” Brewer said. “It was our third back-to-back game, it was hot, and I knew the girls were tired. We made a few defensive mistakes that we normally do not make. However, as champions do, we found a way to fight and come out on top.” 

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