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Chasing a dream

Posted Tuesday, May 19, 2009 by SJA
Albertville senior Carrie Barton’s favorite thing isn’t giving interviews. She prefers to let her game tell the story.

But ask her thoughts about playing in the state softball tournament, and she’s quick to reply.

“We’re ready to leave today,” Barton said Tuesday afternoon.

This morning, the Lady Aggies (33-10-1) will board a chartered bus to make a historic trip for their program.

Albertville will battle No. 10 Spanish Fort on Friday at noon in the first state tournament game in Lady Aggie history.

Montgomery’s Lagoon Park is playing host to all classifications of the state tournament. The 5A games are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

“We’ve all wanted to go to state,” Barton said. “Ever since we were little we’ve been playing together, so we’re happy we’re finally getting to go.”

Barton and classmates Hannah Woodruff and McKenzie Peet have been varsity starters since the eighth grade.

“We’re just as pumped as we were the other night,” Woodruff said. “We can’t wait to get there.

“We’re glad to be there, but we’re not going there just to have a good time. We’re going to win.”

The Lady Aggies clinched their state tournament berth by beating No. 6 Muscle Shoals 11-2 on Saturday night in the Class 5A North Regional.

Head coach Paul Woodruff noted the excitement about the team’s accomplishment continues to build, and he’s trying to make sure his squad remains focused on playing softball.

“Just like them, this is the first time for (assistant) Coach (Richard) Johnson and I to get to the state tournament,” Woodruff said.

“You try to stay even-keeled and not get too giddy about it, but we’re super excited and we’re trying to control the kids from being so excited.

“That being said, I don’t think they’re so excited that they’re just glad we’re down there. They’re going on a mission, and that mission is to win some softball games.

“We’re thrilled to be in the position to have a chance to play for it.”

Spanish Fort went undefeated in the South Regional, posting a 4-0 record. The Toros beat No. 2 Rehobeth 8-0 in the championship game.

“They have a great pitcher,” Woodruff said. “Defensively, they’re strong and they hit the ball well.

“At this point there are eight teams left, and everybody there can play. That’s why they’re there.

“We’ve preached all year about we’re not going to look to somebody else. We’re going to play them one at a time and see how it unfolds.”

Peet believes hitting will be the key for Albertville. The senior catcher belted three two-run homers during the North Regional.

“Just hit the ball and play solid defense, and that will win some games,” Peet said.

“I just think that we have been more patient at hitting, which allows us to see more pitches and to be more selective in the pitches we hit.”

Barton credits team chemistry as another factor in Albertville’s historic season.

“We’ve always been really good friends, and I think that helps a lot when you’re good friends, on and off the field,” Barton said.

“It helps if you’re real good friends and you go and do stuff together, and you just keep everybody motivated.

“You know how to motivate them. You know their weaknesses, and you just know how to bring them up.”

Paul Woodruff said, “Talent-wise, we probably had better athletes last year than we have this year, but chemistry-wise, it’s been unbelievable.

“They’re friends. Movies here, they’re going out to eat there.

“One of the teams we played in the regional, their coach called me and congratulated me. She said you can tell your team has fun being with each other.

“It boils back down to the three that have been here since they were eighth-graders in Hannah, Carrie and McKenzie.

“They’re in that (leadership) position, and they’ve done a fantastic job.”

Peet is hoping the Lady Aggies will have a student section in Montgomery similar to the group that followed them to Huntsville.

“It was pretty huge for us,” Peet said.

“During the regular season we never had a big crowd of students from our school to come out to support us, but during the regional tournament it just helped us to become more motivated to win and go farther, because they were there supporting us through everything.”

Hartselle 9, Albertville 0: The Lady Aggies managed only four hits as they fell to third-ranked Hartselle 9-0 on Monday in the championship game of the North Regional at the Metro Kiwanis Sportsplex in Huntsville.

“It was kind of an anti-climatic day,” Woodruff said.

A rain delay on Saturday pushed back the 5A North Regional finals until Monday.

Class 5A state tournament

No. 1 Mortimer Jordan, No. 2 Rehobeth, No. 3 Hartselle, No. 10 Spanish Fort and Cullman all participated in the 2008 state tournament. Mortimer Jordan is the defending state champion. The Blue Devils beat Hartselle 11-3 in the finals.

The 2009 tournament schedule is:

Friday’s games

Game one, noon — Briarwood vs. Cullman

Game two, noon — Spanish Fort vs. Albertville

Game three, noon — Mortimer Jordan vs. Moody

Game four, noon — Hartselle vs. Rehobeth

Game five, 7 p.m. — game one loser vs. game two loser

Game six, 7 p.m. — game three loser vs. game four loser

Game seven, 7 p.m. — game one winner vs. game two winner

Game eight, 7 p.m. — game three winner vs. game four winner

Saturday’s games

Game nine, 9 a.m. — game six winner vs. game seven loser

Game 10, 9 a.m. — game five winner vs. game eight loser

Game 11, 10:30 a.m. — game seven winner vs. game eight winner (winners bracket finals)

Game 12, noon — game nine winner vs. game 10 winner

Game 13, 3 p.m. — game 12 winner vs. game 11 loser

Game 14, 5:30 p.m. — game 11 winner vs. game 13 winner (championship)

Game 15, 7 p.m. — if necessary

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