MONTGOMERY—The hits and the runs came early to Lagoon Park in Montgomery.
In a 9 a.m. start on Wednesday, No. 3 Gardendale jumped all over seventh-ranked Baldwin County (34-18) in the early innings and eased off with a 12-6 victory in the Class 6A state tournament opener. That win pairs the Rockets with No. 4 Brookwood in the winners’ bracket at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday.
Gardendale (46-6-2) touched up Tiger starter Kahalley Brooks with nine runs on eight hits in the first two innings. The senior was pulled for freshman Leighanna Turk after 1 2/3 innings. Turk tossed the remaining 5 1/3 innings for Baldwin County.
Senior Kaitlyn Clark got the start for the Maroon and White, covering four-plus innings before turning it over to junior Haley Horton with an 11-3 cushion. Clark struck out four batters and allowed five hits.
Her run support was plenty thanks to the efforts of several:
⁃ Savannah Pennington: 4 for 4, RBI
⁃ Jaycee Dill: 2 for 4, five RBIs, home run
⁃ Sarah Beth Brake: 3 for 4, two RBIs
⁃ Carlee McCondichie: 2 for 3, three RBIs, home run
⁃ Abbie Waters: 2 for 5
⁃ Riley Phillips: 2 for 4
In total, the West-Central Regional champions—winners in 21 of their last 24 games—put up 12 runs on 17 hits against the Tigers.
“Coach told us the way to win was to hit and get on base, and I think we really did that today,” said Dill after the win.
Eight of those hits came in the first two frames as Gardendale built a commanding 9-0 lead. Baldwin County would eventually find some offense, scratching one across in the fourth, three in the fifth and two in the seventh, but it was too little, too late.
In relief, Horton struck out one and forced four groundouts to preserve the first-round win.