asia mcwaters

Benjamin Russell's Asia McWaters will get the nod tonight in the first round of the Class 6A Area 6 tournament.

The past no longer matters. It doesn’t matter if a team is 0-30 or 30-0. At this point, the only thing that matters is what it does moving forward.

Area tournaments kick off today for local softball teams, and all are hunting down the same goal — earn the championship. If not that, at least take the runner-up spot and extend their season to the regional tournaments.

Benjamin Russell, which begins today, and Reeltown, which starts Thursday, earned the right to host. Dadeville, Horseshoe Bend and Central Coosa will all be on the road.

For the Wildcats, it’s likely they’ll end up meeting rival Opelika for the championship. The only other team in Class 6A Area 6 is Russell County, which the Wildcats swept, 10-0 and 9-1. BRHS also swept Opelika, 7-1 and 7-2, to go undefeated in area play and earn the regular-season title.

But the Wildcats have had some ups and downs this season and know they can’t overlook anyone.

“We are going to have to be more consistent and just really focus in on the little stuff,” Benjamin Russell coach Jessica Johnson said. “We can’t take any games for granted. We need to play the entire game and not wait until the end; we can’t just hit cruise control.”

Opelika and Russell County will face off at 4 p.m. today followed by the winner, which will likely be the Bulldogs, meeting BRHS at 6 p.m. Asia McWaters will get the starting nod today while Taylor Harris will start for the championship Wednesday.

“Tay has pitched both games to (Opelika) so they haven’t seen Asia yet so I think that’s a positive in and of itself,” Johnson said. “But that’s just our order right now. We talked about moving it around for this situation or that, but we’re just going to go with where we are.”

The Wildcats have also gotten comfortable with changing pitchers mid-game, which was something that was important to Johnson going into the postseason. Because BRHS changes so much defensively when the pitchers change, it was key for everyone to be comfortable with those changes if the situation arose.

Johnson is feeling good heading into the area tournament, especially coming off a 13-3 win over Dadeville to close out the regular season.

“The Dadeville game was one of the best, most complete games we’ve played all year,” she said. “They played with more intensity, and that’s what we challenged them with coming off the Beauregard loss. Against Dadeville, they were in it the entire time.”

As for the Tigers, they’re going to need to get things quickly back on track as they head to Randolph County for the Class 3A Area 7 Tournament which begins today. Dadeville first takes on Beulah. The Tigers lost to the Bobcats, 7-0, in their first meeting, but it took a walk-off in the bottom of the seventh for Beulah to get the win the second time around.

The biggest thing Dadeville will need is more consistency both offensively and defensively. The Tigers have gotten strong hitting from Tiffany Rice (.460 batting average) and Zoe Veres (.361) but no one else with more than 30 plate appearances is batting over .270. Pitching has been a strong point in some cases, but the Tigers have given up 76 walks and 91 unearned runs off 113 errors this season.

Other teams in 3A Area 7 are Randolph County and B.B. Comer.

Central Coosa will also face a tough road today when it hits the road for Thorsby for the Class 2A Area 8 tournament. The Cougars will face the Rebels, who were the area regular-season champ. They could also face Vincent and Fayetteville, the other teams in the area.

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