By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
MONTGOMERY — Brooke Meadows' lead-off home run in the first inning held up as the only run of the game, as Hayden defeated top-ranked Scottsboro 1-0 Saturday to win the AHSAA Class 5A state softball championship.
It's the first state title in any AHSAA-sanctioned sport in school history, according to principal Allen Hargett.
The Wildcats went undefeated in four games at Montgomery's Lagoon Park Softball Complex. They routed Shelby County 12-0 in their first round game, and battled back to beat Saraland 3-2 in 10 innings in the second round on Friday. They then beat Scottsboro 2-0 in the winner's bracket final game earlier on Saturday, thanks to a first-inning homer by third baseman Katie Parr.
In the championship game, Hayden pitcher Caitlin Kirkland — named the most valuable player of Class 5A — allowed Scottsboro just two hits. She still had to get out of a couple of jams with runners on after a couple of errors, but the Hayden fielders came through down the stretch, including diving catches by shortstop Kayla Byrd and center fielder Meleah Hargett — the latter an eighth-grader who was also selected for the all-tournament team, along with Meadows.
Scottsboro pitcher Emily Oliver was almost as good, allowing just three hits, but one of them happened to be Meadows' homer, which was all the offense Hayden needed.
We'll have more on this story coming later.