By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
MONTGOMERY — Brooke Meadows hit a lead-off double, then scored the winning run when Meleah Hargett bunted her way on base as Hayden defeated Saraland 3-2 in 10 innings in the quarterfinal round of the AHSAA Class 5A state softball tournament.
Down 2-1 in the seventh inning, the Wildcats were just one out away from a loss that would dump them into the loser's bracket of the tournament. But Nikki Witt got into scoring position on a two-base Spartan error, moved to third on a Madison McMickin bunt, and scored when Alyssa Phillips hit a bloop single to tie the game.
The Wildcats drew first blood when Meadows scored from third on a ground-out from starting pitcher Caitlin Kirkland. But Saraland drew level on a solo homer by Spartan pitcher Allison Pickett in the third inning.
The Spartans took the lead in the sixth when Makayla Reed got on with a single, and scored after two straight Hayden errors.
Wildcat coach John Simmons pulled Kirkland from the circle with one out in the seventh inning, and replaced her with freshman Sharley Miller, who's had success during the post-season. Miller held Spartan batters at bay, allowing just one hit and one walk in 3-2/3 innings.
Meadows was 2-for-4 at the plate with two runs scored.
The win puts Hayden into the winner's bracket finals against top-ranked Scottsboro, who advanced with a 2-1 win over Curry. That game begins at 10:30 a.m.