Demopolis softball wraps pool play with wins over 6A squads

Demopolis finished strong in pool play Tuesday with a pair of wins over Class 6A foes on day two of the Gulf Coast Classic.

Demopolis 2, Cullman 0

Kendall Hannah was scintillating in the circle for five innings in a 2-0 victory over Cullman. She needed only 75 pitches to scatter four hits for her second shutout of the tournament.

The teams were scoreless until the bottom of the third when Courtney Smith reached on a one-out single before scoring on Abbey Latham’s RBI line drive to left.

The Bearcats looked to battle back in the fourth with a pair of singles to open the inning. Hannah proceeded to slam the door with a strikeout, pop out and ground out. Hannah worked out of a jam again in the fifth with the bases loaded and one out, inducing a liner to left to nullify the threat.

Demopolis tacked on another run in the fifth as Smith singled ahead of a Latham single and Natalie Tatum’s hit-by-pitch. Hannah followed by taking a bean ball of her own to get the RBI the hard way and plate Smith from third. Time expired as the Tigers pushed the lead to 2-0.

Demopolis 11, Fort Payne 2

Demopolis followed the pitcher’s duel with an 11-2 mauling of Fort Payne. The Tigers jumped on top with three runs in the top of the first and never looked back, adding three in the second and fifth innings as well as two in the third.

Courtney Smith, Elly Brown and Abbey Latham singled to start the game. Latham’s hit plated both Smith and Brown for the 2-0 lead. Kendall Hannah then singled home Latham for the 3-0 advantage.

Smith hit a one-out single in the second to ignite another Tiger rally. Brown doubled her home for the 4-0 lead. After Latham singled, a passed ball allowed both Brown and Latham to score for the 6-0 advantage.

Kayla Montz doubled to open the third before scoring on Napoleon Roberson’s grounder to make it 7-0. Brown plated Roberson with a single to set it at 8-0.

After the Wildcats scratched out a pair of runs in the fourth, Demopolis tacked on more in the fifth, using two hits to score three times. Brown walked and Latham doubled before an error allowed both to score. Hannah then singled in Alex Abrams to set the final margin.

Natalie Tatum was strong in the circle, striking out three and scattering eight hits over five innings while giving up a pair of unearned runs for the win.

Demopolis (21-5) moves into single-elimination bracket play Wednesday.

Sweet Water facing tough tests in Gulf Coast Classic

Two days into the Gulf Coast Classic at Robertsdale High School and Sweet Water has seen no shortage of stiff competition as the Bulldogs have gone 1-2 over the tournament’s first two days.

Clarksville (Tenn.) 3, Sweet Water 0

The Bulldogs began their tournament run Monday with a 3-0 loss to Clarksville High School. Clarksville scored a pair of runs in the third inning and another in the sixth for the win.

Sweet Water managed only three hits in the contest, a trio of singles from Will Huckabee, Hunter Mendenhall and Flynn Mabowitz.

Sasha Smith allowed only two earned runs and four hits in three and two-thirds innings. Chase Joiner fanned one and scattered three hits while allowing one run.

Sweet Water 8, Oneonta 6

Sweet Water rebounded Tuesday with a thrilling 8-6 victory over Class 4A Oneonta. The Bulldogs allowed one run in the top of the first before surging in the middle innings. R.J. Rodgers drew a leadoff walk in the frame before scoring on a Sasha Smith grounder to tie the game. Shamar Lewis singled and later made his way home on a Will Huckabee single to put Sweet Water on top 2-1.

The Bulldogs then hung a three spot on the board in the fourth. Hunter Mendenhall singled to open the inning and gave way to courtesy runner Chastain Washington. Luke Davis singled to move the runner. Rodgers then had a single of his own to plate Washington. Lewis followed with a two-run homer to center to move the lead to 5-1.

After Oneonta got a run back in the fifth, Sweet Water scored again when Mendenhall singled in Jonah Smith. After Rodgers scored to make it 7-2 in the sixth, John Thomas Etheridge drove in Lewis to make it 8-2.

Four walks, a single, a hit-by-pitch, and an error in the seventh allowed Oneonta to cut it to 8-6.

Oak Mountain 9, Sweet Water 1

Things got ugly in a hurry for the Bulldogs in their second game of the day Tuesday as Class 7A Oak Mountain had two singles, two doubles, and two triples in the top of the first to build a quick 5-0 lead.

Sweet Water got a run back in the home half as Sasha Smith reached on an error and scored on a Will Huckabee grounder.

The Bulldogs got no closer as Oak Mountain added two runs in the third and two more in the sixth.

Sweet Water (14-5) is set to face Shades Mountain Christian Wednesday.

Final Ride: Lt. Chris Foster laid to rest Monday

They came from Linden, Jefferson, Dixon’s Mills, Sweet Water and Old Spring Hill – where he had served as a volunteer for so many years. Red trucks with sirens blaring driven by men and women in the formal attire of their respective department. Some came because they knew him. Others came because they knew what his loss meant. They all recognized that they had lost a fellow member of the great fraternity of firefighters.

Lt. Chris Foster of the Demopolis Fire and Rescue Department passed away in his sleep in the early morning hours of March 23, the day after his birthday and just hours after having worked what proved to be his final call.

“He was 150 percent dedicated in everything he did, with his family and with his fire department family. He gave 150 percent. He was a person you could always count on. He would be here,” DFRD Chief Vernon Waters said of Foster, who joined the Demopolis department in 1994. “With 23 years experience and 150 percent dedication, that’s the hole he is leaving in this department. We’re going to miss him dearly.”

Waters strained to keep his emotions in check as he told of Foster’s firehouse brethren the day following his death.

“It has been tough, very tough,” Waters said. “We asked if anybody wanted to stand and say anything and nobody could do it. That’s how much he brought to this department.”

A pair of ladder trucks stretch the Old Glory across the funeral procession of Demopolis Fire and Rescue Department’s Lt. Chris Foster’s funeral procession Monday.

Foster first came to the Demopolis Fire and Rescue Department on a part-time basis while he was working with Cemex. And, despite more than two decades of full-time service in the City of the People, he continued to volunteer with the Old Spring Hill Volunteer Fire Department.

“He got it on his own. When he first started, he worked at Cemex and he worked part time with us. He just loved it so much he just took it on,” Waters said of Foster’s passion for fires service. “He put his two-week notice in and came to work with us and he has been here ever since.”

While it may be hard to pinpoint exactly from where Foster’s love of fire service was born, those who knew him showed little hesitation in pointing toward the genesis of his love of serving others.

“Chris taught my son to drive the firetruck working with the Old Spring Hill Fire Department. Very, very highly respected and thought of by my son and my family. He was a very, very outstanding man growing up, willing to help anybody, go beyond the call of duty when it was necessary,” Shirley Sprinkle Etheridge (South Marengo Fire and Rescue), who had known Foster since his high school days, said. “He was an honest, upstanding man. He stood up for what he believed in, always went forth with all effort possible to accomplish his goals that he set out for. He always looked back and always said that he wanted his kids to be proud of him and his wife to stand by him. In order to do that, he had to be honest, upright, Christian. He was raised with a good family because his family in the past have always been Christian people. His mother and dad always took care of the boys, and always raised them right with good, moral upbringing.”

Photo by Blythe Smith – Fire service vehicles from Demopolis and neighboring agencies filled the front lot of Fairhaven Baptist Church Monday morning as firefighters from throughout the area paid their respects to Demopolis Fire Department’s Lt. Chris Foster who passed away in his sleep March 23.

Billy Carlisle, himself dedicated to fire service in various forms, forlornly remembered the days when he first became acquainted with the man he would later regard as both professional peer and personal friend.

“I was probably 12, 13 years old when I met Chris. I was going to Linden Baptist Church and Chris was very active with the youth department and helping out with the kids. I’ve known Chris just as being a guy who loved to mentor younger kids, help them get a direction in life, especially in the teenage years,” Carlisle recalled of Foster, who many remember as having a disarming smile that both welcomed the world in. “He was always community minded. I really knew him more from the volunteer fire department than I did from the professional fire department just because of his commitment to his community. Chris was always active in the fire service. And he got married, had children and he has been a great father.”

Foster is regarded as having loved life in the simplest, most profound ways; his passion for service perhaps being equaled only by his love of his family.

“He always had little small, odd hobbies. One that stands out to me is beekeeping. He did honeybees. Just recently in the last few years got into that. He was passionate about it. He took on those hobbies mainly just to help his kids get interested in nature,” Carlisle, who works with the Alabama Forestry Commission, said. “Being in the Forestry Commission, he was always asking me different things about trees and wanted to teach his kids more about the outdoors. Chris was always just a genuine person, a trustworthy person, a good friend.”

Fire engines lined the front wall of Fairhaven Baptist Church as the funeral was taking place Monday morning. Demopolis Police Department officers stood in salute as the procession headed toward Foster’s final resting place at Demopolis Memorial Gardens. Several citizens stood next to their vehicles in the highway and somberly placed hand over heart in homage to the passing of a lifelong servant.

The Demopolis Fire and Rescue Department expressed sorrow and gratitude through its Facebook page Monday as local agencies helped DFRD members assist Foster with his final ride.

“The Demopolis Fire/Rescue Department would like to thank everyone for their support during the late Lt. Chris Foster’s funeral procession today. Fire departments, Police departments, Sheriffs and State Troopers from around Marengo County, neighboring counties, and the state come together as Brothers and Sisters to give Lt. Foster his final ride! To the City of Linden, City of Livingston, City of Tuscaloosa and the City of Northport, we can’t thank you’ll enough for covering our city so we could attend the funeral,” the Facebook post read. “Today was a very emotional and sad day for all of us but Lt. Foster looked down and smiled to see all of this take place in his honor.”

Foster, who died the morning after his 54th birthday, leaves behind a wife, Vanya Maria Wilson Foster; daughters, Mary Azilee (13), Rebekah Phares (6 months) and Sarah Ruth (six months) and son, Matthew Lane (11).

Demopolis hangs 14 runs in win over Clarke

Demopolis scored in every inning Monday afternoon en route to its sixth consecutive win, a 14-4 victory over Clarke County in five innings.

“I thought we did swing the bat well at times. Early we had some runners on and didn’t get them in. I think we made a few adjustments and were able to drive some runs in later in the game,” Demopolis coach James Moody said of the 14-hit, 14-run showing.

Chandler Barton started the fireworks for Demopolis in the bottom of the first with a leadoff double. Two batters later R.J. Cox singled him in to put the Tigers up 1-0.

After Ryan Morrison struck out the Clarke side in the top of the second, Demopolis went to work in the bottom half for a five-run outburst. Tyler Jones hit a leadoff single and later scored on a Cox single. DeDe Davis reached on an error ahead of a Hunter Colyar single. Jonathon Lewis then stroked a three-run double to plate Davis, Colyar and Cox for the 5-0 Demopolis lead. Morrison later helped his own cause with a single to drive in Lewis for the 6-0 advantage.

Clarke scored a pair of runs in the top of the third before Demopolis tacked on two more. Andrew Patterson and Davis walked to start the inning, later scoring on a Colyar single for the 8-2 lead.

“They seemed to be ready to play. I told them to be here at 11 today and most all of them were here about 10:30. They got the field ready and they just kind of hung out in the locker room,” Moody said of his team’s focus despite the contest being an afternoon tilt on the Monday of Spring Break. “We’re about to give them three days off, bring them back Friday and practice and then play Saturday. We’ll try to just let them get away from it a little bit and enjoy some time off.”

Charles Casper walked to open the fourth and later scored on an error to make it 9-2. Morrison walked and scored on a Davis double for the 10-2 mark. Barton singled home Davis before scoring on a passed ball to put it at 12-2.

A pair of Clarke County runs in the top of the fifth threatened to extend the game at least one more inning. Lewis ignited the Demopolis rally in the home half with a double before scoring on Morrison’s RBI single. Morrison scored the final run of the game on a Patterson sacrifice fly.

Demopolis (9-5) is set to play again Saturday when it travels to Greensboro four a doubleheader.

“We haven’t played them in several years actually,” Moody said as he turned his attention to what he would like to see from his team in the weeks leading up to the postseason. “Just continue to get better. I wasn’t pleased with our pitching late. We didn’t go out there and attack the zone like we should have. Any time our batters are putting runs on the board, we’ve got to go out there and make them hit it.”

Demopolis splits in day one at Gulf Shores

3-27-17 — Gulf Shores, Ala. — Demopolis’ Kendall Hannah fires a pitch the plate against Hartselle.

Demopolis’s first game in Gulf Shores Monday afternoon saw the Tigers take a thrilling 2-0 victory over Class 6A Hartselle. The lone runs of the game came with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning when Anna Katherine Aldridge singled to score Elly Brown and Abbey Latham.

Hartselle’s best chance to tie the game came in the top of the sixth with a runner aboard. Kendall Hannah induced a pop out from Hartselle cleanup hitter Emily Cowart to end the game.

3-27-17 — Gulf Shores, Ala. — Demopolis’ Taylor Smith tracks down a fly ball for a putout against Hartselle.

Katherine Poe was perfect through the first three innings of play, setting the Tiger lineup down in order before Brown’s one-out single in the fourth. Latham and Natalie Tatum followed with singles of their own to set up the Aldridge base hit. The Tigers’ fifth hit of the contest came in the bottom of the fifth when Taylor Smith singled.

Hannah was effective and efficient in the effort, striking out three while scattering three hits and one walk on only 78 pitches in the shutout.

Demopolis followed that effort with a flat performance against Northview (Dothan) in a 4-0 loss. The Tigers surrendered two runs in the second inning and one each in the third and fourth. Natalie Tatum allowed only four hits and two earned runs but a pair of Demopolis errors proved unhelpful to the Tiger cause. Tatum, Hannah and Latham each singled for the only Demopolis hits of the contest.

Demopolis (19-5) continues tournament play Tuesday.

3-27-17 — Gulf Shores, Ala. — Demopolis’ Anna Katherine Aldridge singles to right field to plate the Lady Tigers’ only two runs in their win over Hartselle.

Demopolis player, Linden coach take Watchman postseason honors

1-19-2017 — Demopolis, Ala. — Shakari Williams (11) goes in for a slam against Choctaw County during the Tiger’s victory.

As a gangly, if not awkward, sophomore Shakari Williams had to fight to find minutes and contribute to his team’s fortunes. As a junior, Williams transformed himself into a 6-6 force on the wing for the Tigers.

Williams developed his game into an inside-out showcase that gave defenders fits throughout much of the season. His personal highlight reel includes a 41-point career high against Keith and a veritable cornucopia of blocked shots and dunks.

What’s scarier is that there is still room for Williams to improve his skillset ahead of a senior year that will afford him plenty of opportunities for collegiate attention.

Williams averaged 14.2 points and 6.4 rebounds on the season to go along with more than a steal and a block per game. While the numbers aren’t as eye-catching as is typically befitting a West Alabama Watchman Player of the Year, Williams did the vast majority of his work against double teams and continuous defensive switches.

Williams, who led his team to an improved 10-12 record, earned Third Team Class 5A All-State recognition. The honor makes him the second all-state player out of Demopolis in more than a decade. For his part, Williams is the West Alabama Watchman Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

West Alabama Watchman Boys Basketball Coach of the Year honors go to Linden coach Demetrice Jackson. No team came from further off the radar than did Linden as Jackson led the Patriots to their first South Regional in five years while keeping the squad raked in the Top 10 for the entirety of the season. The Patriots finished the season at 19-10, a win total that includes an impressive victory over then Class 2A No. 1 R.C. Hatch.

 West Alabama Watchman Boys Basketball All-County Team

First Team

Shakari Williams, Jr. – Demopolis

Anthony Jones, Sr. – Sweet Water

Dequan Charleston, Sr. – Linden

Isaiah Scott, Jr. – Linden

Nelson Haskin, Jr. – Demopolis

Second Team

Cordarius Pritchett, Sr. – Marengo

Johnny Robertson, Jr. – A.L. Johnson

DeAntre Johnson, Sr. – Linden

Melvin Childers, Jr. – Demopolis

Trent Sams, Jr. – Sweet Water

Sweet Water sweeps Area 1 foe Fruitdale

Sweet Water has officially started another winning streak as the Bulldogs swept a doubleheader from Fruitdale Friday.

Sweet Water 7, Fruitdale 4

Sweet Water tallied 10 hits in a 7-4 game one victory over Fruitdale. The Pirates jumped on top early with a three spot in the top of the first inning. Sweet Water got one run back in the home half of the frame as Sasha Smith hit a leadoff single before scoring on Will Huckabee’s single to cut it to 3-1.

Smith stroked a leadoff double in the bottom of the third ahead of a Braiden Broussard single. Huckabee followed with a sacrifice fly to center to plate Smith and cut the deficit to 3-2. Two batters later, Hunter Mendenhall singled home Broussard to tie the game.

Sweet Water took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth. John Thomas Etheridge singled to lead off the inning before giving way to courtesy runner R.J. Rodgers. Shamar Lewis later hit a sacrifice fly to center to plate Rodgers, putting Sweet Water up 4-3. Smith singled and scored on a Huckabee single for the 5-3 lead. Jonah Smith then tripled in Huckabee to put the Bulldogs up 6-3. Sweet Water added one more run in the bottom of the sixth when Jonah Smith hit a RBI grounder to plate Huckabee.

Etheridge worked four innings of relief, striking out two and surrendering one hit and one earned run for the win.

Sweet Water 9, Fruitdale 2

Sweet Water dominated the nightcap with a 9-2 victory behind Broussard’s complete game effort that saw him strike out five batters and scatter seven hits while giving up one earned run.

The Bulldogs trailed 1-0 after the top of the first inning but strung together a five-run rally in the home half of the frame. Sasha Smith drew a leadoff walk and stole second before scoring on Broussard’s grounder to first. Jonah Smith singled, stole second base and later scored on a passed ball.

Sweet Water later got a pair of runs on steals of home from Flynn Mabowitz and R.J. Rodgers to move the lead to 4-1. Lewis then scored on an error to make it 5-1. Jonah Smith tripled to lead off the bottom of the third and scored on a passed ball to push the advantage to 6-1.

Huckabee hit a RBI grounder to plate Sasha Smith in the bottom of the fourth, moving the lead to 7-1. Brandon Schroeder doubled home Rodgers in the bottom of the fifth. Sasha Smith scored the final run of the game on a Chastain Washington grounder.

Sweet Water (13-3, 3-0) stays unbeaten in Class 1A, Area 1 play with the sweep of Fruitdale, a series that saw the Bulldogs steal a total of 25 bases.

The Bulldogs are set to travel to the Gulf Coast Classic Monday to face Clarksville (Tenn.), Oneonta, Oak Mountain and Shades Mountain Christian in a span of three days.

 

Cox pitches Demopolis past Central

3-24-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — DHS Tiger pitcher R.J. Cox steps toward the plate against Central-Tuscaloosa.

Demopolis (8-5, 3-0) did all of its scoring in the middle innings Friday on its way to a Class 5A, Area 7 win over Central-Tuscaloosa.

“I certainly don’t want to stand here and say we played really well and lost. We did what we needed to do,” Demopolis coach James Moody said. “We made some plays when we needed to and we moved some runners when we needed to. Hopefully we can do the same thing in the next area game and have a chance to play at home.”

3-24-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ Hunter Colyar sends a pitch to the outfield against Central-Tuscaloosa.

Tiger starter R.J. Cox worked around a Marcus McVay double that hit the top of the fence in the first inning and kept the Falcons at bay for four frames. For its part, Demopolis stranded four runners over the first two innings and left eight on base in the game.

“I take it all back to focus again. You’re not able, when you lose it, to get it back. This age kid can’t. The ones that can play without focus and get it back are making a lot of money to do it. I don’t think we purposefully played the way we played, I just didn’t see us make a lot of adjustments, mainly at the plate. That’s disheartening because it puts me in a position of pushing the envelope more to try to force it. That’s not good. They need to control the game. It’s just disappointing in how we approached it the last two nights. Don’t take anything away. We hit some balls hard tonight and hit it right at people,” Moody said. “It has been a trend the last two or three games hitting the ball in the air. I’ve got to go back and look at what we’re doing and try to correct that.”

Demopolis broke through in the third as Hunter Colyar doubled to open the inning before Cox drove him in with a single. Jake Malone came in as a courtesy runner for Cox and Charles Casper singled ahead of a Jonathan Lewis sacrifice bunt. Ryan Morrison then ripped a single to plate Malone and Casper, stretching the Demopolis lead to 3-0.

3-24-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — DHS Tiger catcher Jonathan Lewis stretches in an attempt to tag out a Falcon runner in the Tigers’ game against Central-Tuscaloosa.

Demopolis added two more in the fourth as Chandler Barton singled and stole a base before scoring on an error. Casper then singled home Malone to push the advantage to 5-0.

Central capitalized on an error in the fifth as Mar’Kalious Prince McGraw singled and scored on a miscue to erase the shutout.

Central officially announced its presence in the game in the sixth when Jaylan Gaines stroked a leadoff homer of the left field fence to cut it to 5-2.

Cox exited after six innings, having scattered seven hits and surrendered one earned run while striking out six and walking none. Andrew Patterson came on for the save in a hitless seventh.

“They absolutely gave us a chance to win as always. Without that quality pitching, I don’t know where we would be the last two nights,” Moody said pointing to the starting pitching his team got from Cox Friday and Colyar Thursday. “Obviously last night was Hunter dominating with 18 strikeouts. But R.J. was really effective today. He got tired late and got the ball up. You know what you’re getting with R.J. You’re going to get quality and he’s going to be around the plate.”

Demopolis is set to host Clarke County Monday at 1 p.m.

“We have plenty of areas to improve,” Moody said. “That’s going to be what I address with them after this game is the things we need to improve on and for us to be the best we can be. We’re not playing the best that we can play.”

Colyar Ks 18, Davis has inside-the-park job in Demopolis win

Demopolis (7-5, 3-0) moved one step closer to clinching home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a 7-1 victory over Class 5A, Area 7 foe Central-Tuscaloosa Thursday.

Tiger senior Hunter Colyar surrendered one unearned run while striking out 18 batters and giving up one hit over seven innings of work.

A pair of Demopolis errors in the bottom of the first inning left the Falcons on top 1-0 after Shundrell Loggins reached on an error, stole second and third, and scored on another error.

DeDe Davis tied the game to open the top of the third as he hit a fly ball to left that turned into an inside-the-park home run for the speedster. R.J. Cox later hit a sacrifice fly to plate Chandler Barton and put Demopolis up 2-1. Charles Casper and Jonathan Lewis later scored on an error to push the lead to 4-1.

Demopolis did the remainder of its scoring in the top of the fifth inning. Ryan Morrison grounded in Henry Overmyer and Lewis to make it 6-1. Tyler Jones later scored on Andrew Patterson’s fielder’s choice to finish the scoring.

The win moves Demopolis’s win streak to four in a row. The Tigers host Central for a double-header Friday at 4 p.m.

Sweet Water rolls over Millry for Area 1 win

Sweet Water (12-11, 4-0) dispatched of Class 1A, Area 1 foe Millry 9-2 Thursday behind a dominant pitching performance from senior Thea Luker.

The Coastal Alabama signee struck out 11 over seven innings of work while scattering five hits and giving up one earned run.

Sweet Water did all of its offensive damage without the benefit of an extra-base hit, tallying 12 singles in the contest. The Bulldogs trailed 1-0 after the top of the first inning but wasted little time erasing that deficit. A pair of Millry errors allowed Sara Irvin to score, tying the game at 1-1. Lara Little then grounded to short to plate Retic and give Sweet Water the 2-1 lead.

Millry used a Bulldog error in the third to tie the game 2-2. Three Millry errors and two Sweet Water hits in the bottom of the fourth put Sweet Water on top 6-2.

Little singled in Kamae Retic. Little and Kora Myers later scored on an error to push it to 5-2. Eve Myers scored on an error to push it to 6-2.

Sweet Water capped the scoring in the bottom of the sixth. Little singled and stole second before Kora Myers singled her in to make it 7-2. Two batters later, Marshall drove in Kora Myers with a single to left. Marshall later stole home as part of a double steal.

Sweet Water is set to return to action Monday, April 3 when it hosts Southern Choctaw.