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A nine-inning nailbiter

Posted Friday, May 08, 2009 by Paul Woodruff
SOUTHSIDE — Tim Talton, the father of Albertville second baseman Torrea Talton, kept calm by whittling a devil’s pitchfork, a gift he presented to head coach Paul Woodruff after Tuesday’s Aggie-Southside cliffhanger.

On the field, the Aggie players exhibited nerves of steel as they refused to lose in the winners bracket finals of the Class 5A, Area 13 softball tournament.

A classic pitchers’ duel saw Albertville senior Carrie Barton and Southside junior Alayna Holderfield dominate the nine-inning game.

The Lady Aggies pushed across two runs in the top of the ninth to grab a 3-1 victory and secure a berth in the first North Regional Tournament at the Huntsville Sportsplex.

Barton slammed the door on the Panthers in the bottom of the ninth, striking out the side to finish with a career-high 17 strikeouts.

She scattered seven hits and allowed one walk.

“They’d already beat us one time,” Barton said, a contest in which Holderfield no-hit the Lady Aggies.

“They thought they had us coming into this game, because they beat us that one time.

“They thought they’d get fans and get us all fired up, and it did. It fired us up the wrong way. They fired us up the wrong way.

“It just shows how hard we work. It went nine innings, and we hit when we had to hit and won it.”

Barton was referring to a group of Southside students who heckled Albertville’s players throughout the game.

“I’m a little tired,” said Barton, who threw 139 pitches. “I busted a blood vessel in my leg pitching, hitting it so hard (with her glove). I pulled a hamstring, but I’m good, I’m good.

“My momentum was just going. I mean I was tired, but I wasn’t about to stop. I had to keep going.”

McKenzie Peet led off the Albertville ninth by slugging a ground-rule double to left field.

Barton followed with a bunt single and later advanced to second base on a passed ball.

With two outs, Becca Townsend laid down a bunt. Holderfield fielded the ball and threw home, but not in time to nail Peet, whose run made it 2-1.

Holderfield’s throw got away, and a hustling Barton scored from second, giving AHS a 3-1 advantage.

Barton fanned the numbers nine, one and two batters in Southside’s order in the bottom of the ninth, giving AHS the dramatic extra-inning victory.

Neither team scored until the seventh inning.

Barton led off Albertville’s half of the seventh with an infield single. She advanced to second on Brittany Copeland’s bunt.

Talton ripped a pitch into the circle that knocked Holderfield’s glove off as she reached down to field it. She retrieved the ball and made an errant throw to first, which allowed Barton to score the contest’s first run.

Southside’s Daniel Talley drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the seventh.

Haley Johnson then legged out an infield single, getting the call in a close play at first base that Woodruff argued should’ve been an out.

A throwing error as Talley stole third allowed her to race home and tie the contest 1-1.

Barton batted 2-for-3 and scored two runs to lead Albertville, which overcame five errors.

Peet doubled and scored, and Stephanie NeSmith and Emily Woodruff both singled. Townsend had two RBIs.

Holderfield struck out 10 and walked none for Southside.

Taylor Williamson batted 3-for-4 to lead the Panthers. Johnson finished 2-for-5.

Albertville 12, Etowah 2, five innings: The Lady Aggies collected 12 hits as they whipped the Blue Devils on Tuesday afternoon in their tournament opener.

Barton batted 3-for-4 with three runs and two RBIs to propel the Lady Aggies’ attack.

Talton went 2-for-2 with a run and three RBIs, and Hannah Woodruff finished 2-for-3 with two runs and one RBI.

Copeland was 1-for-2 with two runs and one RBI, and Townsend batted 1-for-2 with a run.

Emily Woodruff went 1-for-3 with a run, and Peet was 1-for-3 with two runs. NeSmith finished 1-for-3, and Maggie Younghouse had an RBI.

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