By Joe Medley, East Alabama Sports Today
OXFORD — Chef Bryan Otwell and fireman Jeremy Brown stood proudly over a pot of jambalya Saturday. Just behind them in the tent they set up across the street from Oxford Lake Park’s softball fields, a table offered choices from cheddar brats to deer meat.
Across the street, Piedmont feasted on newly found momentum.
The Bulldogs entered the Lady Wildcat Classic winless and left champions, beating Alexandria 3-0 in the single-elimination tournament final.
The six-team varsity field included five teams from Calhoun County. Alexandria, Oxford, Piedmont, Wellborn and host school White Plains tested their teams in a field that also included Sardis.
This week’s rain shortened the two-day event to Saturday only, with pool play and a single-elimination tournament.
Piedmont (4-3) opened with a 2-0 loss to Oxford but rebounded to beat Wellborn 11-1, White Plains 6-2, Oxford 2-1 in eight innings and Alexandria in the final.
“I know this group is very talented,” Piedmont coach Rachel Smith said. “We just took a while to try to get it all put together.”
The Bulldogs’ awakening started with the 11-1 victory over Wellborn, and Armoni Perry capped off the awakening of Bulldog bats with a grand slam to left-center field to make it 11-0.
“It kind of felt good off of the bat,” Perry said. “We needed it for the team. It’s the first win of the season, and it’s one of our area teams.
“That game right there, all of us kind of hit. The other four games, we haven’t hit that well. We’ve been practicing real hard to try to get in the zone of hitting.”
Having made its first to state-tournament appearances of the fast-pitch era in 2021 and 2022, Piedmont hopes to make it three years in a row. That looked more doable Saturday night than it looked Saturday morning.
One encouraging sign was Jenna Calvert’s RBI single for the go-ahead run against Oxford in the semifinals. Another strong indicator was strong pitching performances by Emma Grace Todd, with support from Savannah Smith, who came on in relief in the semifinals and pitched a complete-game shutout against Alexandria.