MONTGOMERY — It was a loss in the last game of the season, but few Mortimer Jordan players were shedding tears of sorrow.
Most of them were just glad to have made it to the AHSAA Class 5A state championship game, or even the tournament itself.
But the Cinderella run through the post-season did finally come to an end with an 11-1, five-inning loss to Chelsea in the final game, after Jordan — particularly its pitching staff — finally ran out of gas.
The Blue Devils held the Hornets to a 2-1 lead after two innings, but the floodgates opened in the third with six runs, and the rout was on.
Jordan Coach Shawn Maze didn't even start his eighth-grade pitching ace, Bailey Murphy, whose call-up from the North Jefferson Middle squad two-thirds of the way through the regular season turned the Devils' fortunes around in an instant.
Murphy had already started to lose steam Thursday night in their win over Albertville. By Friday morning, she got far enough ahead of Spanish Fort for Maze to bring in a reliever. Ditto against St. Paul's in the loser's bracket win, but Maze had to bring Murphy back in to replace his daughter, Shelby, after a comfortable lead was dwindling in the seventh inning with the bases loaded.
Murphy got the last out, with her last ounce of energy, and she was done. Maze put in Natalie Johnsey, his main starter before Murphy moved up.
The final game brought an end to the prep career of center fielder Haylie McCleney, whose knack for beating out bunts for singles seemingly at will gained her fame and a scholarship at Alabama, where she will likely start next season for the Crimson Tide. McCleney's last game was an uncharacteristic o-for-2, though she reach on a walk and a fielder's choice, stealing second both times.
Morgan Cantrell and Brittany Collier got Jordan's only hits, with Collier's long single to the fence bringing Cantrell in to score.
Hornet pitcher Kacie Craft only had two strikeouts in five innings, but kept the Devil offense at bay with numerous ground balls.
Allie Luster, thr tournament's most valuable player, was 2-for-4 with a triple and an RBI for Chelsea. Joslyn Johnston was also 2-for-4 with three runs batted in.
McCleney, Murphy, Shelby Maze, and Tiffani Chaviers were named to the all-tournament team.