Newcomer Orange Beach shocks Pisgah with start for 2A softball title
David just killed Goliath.
Freshman program Orange Beach got a two-run home run from seventh grader Ava Hodo down the ninth inning as the Makos stunned 10-time state champion Pisgah 3-2 to win the state championship Class 2A at Signature Field at Choccolocco Park in Oxford on Thursday afternoon.
“It’s awesome,” said Hodo, who pulled off an undoubtedly left circuit after Daigle Wilson walked. “I just wanted to hit a practice line to start my team and start something. To take a walk, this is something you dream of.
“I’m really excited. I’m just over the moon. First of the year, Coach [Shane Alexander] told us he was going to throw us to the bottom to see if we could swim. Turns out we could really do it.
Orange Beach (35-9) crossed the field with a 7-1 win over defending champion 2A GW Long in the winner’s support final, then knocked out defending class 3A Eagles (37-12) for the title.
“The coach told us it was like the icing on the cake to get here,” Hodo said. “Now that we’re champions, he’s like, ‘We just added so much glitter and candles and everything.’
“I know it’s the best feeling ever. It is something that I will never forget.
Orange Beach eighth pitcher Justine Henderson had retired 15 in a row when she delivered a single with one out to Hannah Duncan. A withdrawal later, Karlee Holcomb doubled the fence to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead.
Pisgah pitcher Piper Anderson had retired 12 in a row when she walked Wilson on four straight shots and then fell 2-0 behind Hodo. Anderson allowed four hits in 8.1 innings, walked four, and struck out one.
“I told him right before the bat that I loved him and just wanted to have fun,” said Alexander, who also won a softball championship at Hartselle and also has a baseball title on his resume. . “She’s been in gear for us all year. I told her if she had a pitch, and she did.
The Makos were fortunate enough to take a 2-1 lead in the fourth in what would have been the winning run.
Falyn Beebe tripled and Henderson followed with an apparent sacrificial fly. But Pisgah appealed and Beebe was called in for leaving too early.
“I guess she left too early,” Alexander said. “I don’t know. I didn’t see it. I was screaming,“ tag, tag, tag! ”It’s just part of it.
This is the first state championship in any sport for Orange Beach, which only became a school last fall.
“I don’t know what to say,” Alexander said. “We have had such great support in the community. It’s really amazing to bring this back to Orange Beach. There could be a party or two at Orange Beach this weekend. I can promise you that. “
Pisgah won five straight titles from 2001-05, then won again in 2008, 2011, ’13, ’17 and ’19. Most of the titles belonged to class 3A.
“Really, I don’t have the words,” Alexander said. “I love these girls. They fought all year and did everything I asked them to. When we started the season we really challenged them. We took them to big tournaments and we challenged the grandes écoles 7A and 6A and they never backed down.
“We set our goals just to get here. We were delighted to arrive here. But once we got here we started to think, “Why not us? It is phenomenal.
Orange Beach won the title with a list of three sevenths, four eighths, five freshmen, one sophomore, two juniors and no senior.
“Half of our land is still in college,” he said. “We just go back to work. With all these seventh and eighth graders, it’s a good problem to have. We have very good players.
Henderson pitched three full games on Wednesday as the Makos beat Sumiton Christian 6-4, Spring Garden 3-1 and GW Long 7-1. In the nine-innings effort against the Eagles, she pitched a six batting, walked one and put out two on 92 pitches.
“Our second pitcher broke her big toe, so we had to rely on Justine the whole time,” said Alexander. “She fought through those three games yesterday and we gave her a nice ice bath last night and tried to prepare her. She’s serious for an eighth grader and just came here today and does what she’s doing.
Orange Beach took a 1-0 lead in the first game when MVP Teagan Revette walked, stole the second and finally scored on a passed ball.
The Eagles tied the game at 1-1 in the second on Duncan’s double and Holcomb’s RBI single.
“I knew [Pisgah coach] Bowl [Duncan] for a long time and we fought many years ago, ”said Alexander. “He has a phenomenal program. We talked about trying to build our program like hers where we will play anyone, anywhere. It does not matter.
“We’ve been talking to our daughters all year round that at some point we had to go through Pisgah.”
Pisgah had to play twice in the losing group earlier Thursday, surviving 5-1 on Mars Hill and 6-5 on GW Long.
Hodo and Henderson have been joined in the All-Tournament squad with MVP Revette and Kennedy Barron from Pisgah, Lila Kate Wheeler and Briley Worley.