TUSCALOOSA—Against a brutal field of competition, No. 5 Mortimer Jordan has strung three straight wins together at the West-Central Regional Softball Tournament to earn its second Class 5A state tournament berth in as many years.
The Blue Devils (36-13) opened up regional play with back-to-back wins last Friday against second-ranked Springville and Area 12 runner-up Southside-Gadsden, and returned to Bowers Park in Tuscaloosa on Monday for a 3-2 regional-championship-game victory over top-ranked Hayden.
Mortimer Jordan shared the eight-team regional bracket with three other top-10 teams, including No. 1 Hayden, No. 2 Springville and No. 7 Alexandria.
On Monday, it was a pair of two-out hits and a complete game six-hitter from ace righty Madi Maze that lifted the Blue Devils past their Area 11 rival.
Maze induced a popout into short-left field for the final out with the equalizer left stranded in scoring position. The junior pinned runners in said position in three of the final four innings to punch Jordan’s state tournament ticket.
“I just had to breath and know that my team was behind me,” said Maze of a pressure-packed seventh inning.
Hayden started the frame on the wrong side of a 3-1 score, but led off with an Olivia Armstrong double and later cut the deficit to 3-2 on an RBI groundout from Hannah Cox. Maze, after a brief mound visit from her dad, responded by pitching into a groundout followed by the game-ending bloop into left.
Her two-run cushion came minutes earlier in the home-half of the sixth when senior third baseman Anna Purvis found the barrel with two outs on. Purvis drove home two runs to break a 1-1 score, sending her team back to Lagoon Park in Montgomery.
“I was just looking for a base hit to get my team a big win,” said Purvis. “Against a team like Hayden, you have to come through right there.”
Purvis’ timely swing was one of five hits Mortimer Jordan could manage against Hayden lefty Miah Simmons. The senior tossed a complete game, striking out one batter and stranding four Blue Devils on base.
Mortimer Jordan’s first run crossed in the third inning when sophomore Brooke Nash lined a two-out, run-scoring single into center field. Savannah Anderson, who started the inning with a base hit into left, scored from second for a 1-0 lead.
“I was just looking for an outside pitch right there so I could drive it up the middle and put my team ahead,” said Nash of her RBI single. “We’re settled down and we’re more relaxed and have more energy when we’re ahead.”
Nash missed essentially the entire regular season with an injury, but broke back into Shawn Maze’s lineup during the Area 11 Tournament at Hayden.
“Last year I was taken out [injured] in my first area game and this year I was put back in for the first area game, so I’ve just had to make up for the loss of this season and last season… It’s coming back to me now,” said Nash.
Mortimer Jordan will open up state tournament play on Thursday at Lagoon Park in Montgomery against No. 4 Rehobeth. First pitch is scheduled for 9 a.m.
First round: Mortimer Jordan 3, Springville 2
Blue Devil freshman Mikayla McCain doubled home two runs in the top of the fifth, junior righty Madi Maze tossed two-run ball and Mortimer Jordan notched a big win on Friday in Tuscaloosa.
▪ Madi Maze: seven innings pitched, two runs allowed, eight strikeouts
▪ (S) Abby Swaney: seven innings pitched, three runs allowed, eight strikeouts
▪ Maia Townsend: three hits
▪ Mikayla McCain: one hit, two RBIs
▪ Ainsley Grimes: one hit, one RBI
Winners’ bracket: Mortimer Jordan 4, Southside-Gadsden 3