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Lizi Arbogast / The Outlook Benjamin Russell's Bailey Underwood, left, tags out Dadeville's Tori Giles as she attempts to steal second.

Although there were clearly some first-game jitters for both Benjamin Russell and Dadeville’s softball teams during the season opener Thursday night, the Wildcats seemed to handle those better.

Despite committing four errors — something BRHS coach Jessica Johnson knows the Wildcats need to quickly correct — the Wildcats did more than enough with their bats to earn a 12-2 win over the Tigers.

“The biggest takeaway form this game is we kinda got caught up in the game they were playing and we drifted away from the way we play ball,” Johnson said. “In a bigger game, you can’t do that. You can’t let the mental side take over; you gotta stay steady and play your game. But especially with (Thursday’s weather) and not knowing if we were going to play or not and not really having their heads where they need to be, they did well. I’m proud of them.” 

Emma Tapley was the star of Benjamin Russell’s lightning fast offense. Tapley was on fire at the plate, finishing with three hits and a staggering six RBIs. She was knocking on the door of a home run all night before finally smashing one over the fence with two runners on in the top of the sixth.

“She’s been working really hard,” Johnson said. “That’s a year in the making. She hit it well last year. We’re just keeping her in control and letting her see the ball, but she’s working hard so it’s expected of her.” 

Tapley would’ve had four hits if not for a hard-fought double play by the Tigers.

“We got the first-game jitters out of the way,” Dadeville coach Jordan McGuire said. “We made a double play on the first game, even though it wasn’t usually how you get them. We were able to gather ourselves and still get that play. We were able to get an out at home sometimes.

“Some stuff did go our way; some stuff didn’t but that’s going to happen with the game of softball. They rolled with it, they improved and they got over their mistakes.” 

That gave BRHS (1-0) an 11-0 lead and as Dadeville had only two hits to that point, it looked like the Wildcats might wrap up the game early.

But the Tigers (0-1) weren’t going down that easily.

Timirian Tinsley drew a walk to start the bottom of the sixth and Zoe Veres took advantage by smacking a home run over the center-field fence to stave off a shutout and extend the game to the full seven innings. It was the only two runs BRHS ace Taylor Harris gave up all night.

“Tay pitched an awesome game,” Johnson said. “There in the sixth inning, she threw a little changeup and it floated up in the air and the wind just carried it over the fence.”

That was the first inning the Tigers got on base with no outs. They had at least one runner on in all but one inning but three times, they didn’t get anything going until there were already two outs on the board. 

Although Dadeville suffered a lopsided loss, McGuire was satisfied with a lot of things the Tigers did. Tamiyah Stowes was a standout; after not practicing at all at third base, she took over the position to start the season.

While the Wildcats go right back to work today at the Purple and Gold Tournament in Tallassee, Dadeville has a few days off and McGuire said it’s for the best.

“It’s fresh in our mind so that’s sometimes really good,” McGuire said. “Last year our first game was the Alex City tournament then we had one day off and we played again. We really didn’t have much time to physically work on what we needed to work on, so (today) we’ll have practice and Monday we’ll get back at it again.” 

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