Lady Rebels create lasting legacy, finish third in AISA Class A softball

Published 9:18 am Thursday, May 12, 2016

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By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

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The road for a 2016 AISA Class A state softball championship came to an end for Lowndes Academy at Lagoon Park in Montgomery on Saturday, but not without a fight from the Lady Rebels, who finished the season third in the state.

The Lady Rebels blew their contest with Sumter open Saturday to win 16-6 in five innings. However, the Lady Rebels fell in a hard fought game against Cornerstone 4-3.  Previously on Friday, the Lady Rebels defeated Abbeville 9-4, lost to Cornerstone 5-2 and beat Lakeside 8-3.

In the end the Lady Rebels  went 24-14 on the season , were the  Region 2 Area 1 – champion, were Region 2 – Runner Up and finished third in the state at the AISA Class A State Softball Championship Tournament .

Following the loss to Cornerstone Saturday, Lowndes Academy head softball coach Matt Marshall said, “I’m proud of this group. I told them before we came out here today no matter what we did today, it wouldn’t change how I feel… the fight and determination that they’ve got.”

He said, “I proud of what we accomplished… It’s the end of an era; we’ve got to start anew. I think they’ve represented themselves and their families well and our school.”

While Marshall said he couldn’t be more proud and that finishing third in the state wasn’t where they (the Lady Rebels) wanted to be, “We made a great run at it, and we never quit.” He said in their time at Lowndes Academy his senior group has finished first, first, second and third. “They’ve got a great legacy and a lot of wins in their career.”

Senior Emily Dunning said following Saturday’s loss that her  teammates were focused on God and always stepped up. “I’m so proud of my team,” She said. “They’ve always been there for me. It’s just been a great year, we had a great run, we’re a great team, and I know everybody is going to remember us individually, and as a team, we will be remembered at Lowndes Academy.”

In the state tournament at Lagoon Park, senior Taylor King put on a show at bat going 12-15 at the plate to end her last year with Lowndes Academy.   King recorded three  triples and nine singles at the tournament batting leadoff.

“Taylor was amazing all weekend, really all season,” Marshall said.  “She was our vocal leader this year, always being the voice of optimism and encouragement to our team.  Taylor is an amazing young woman and it has been a privilege to coach her all these years,” Marshall said.

He said King led the team in batting with a .603 average and .655 on base percentage

Junior Abby Ray also had a great tournament and season batting .596 and going 10 for 16 in the tournament.

Senior Sarah Anna McIntosh, pitched every inning except two in the state tournament, going 3-2 in the circle and surrendering only eight earned runs in 31 innings.

“Sarah is like my adopted child,” Marshall said. “Her mother and my wife have worked together for 17 years as teachers in Montgomery.  I thought her performance in the circle was simply amazing.  She was battling an abdominal muscle strain that has been bothering her for three weeks.”

Marshall said the team went without pitching for two weeks at practice, games or anything.  “And for her to pitch the way she did……she has guts lots and lots of guts,” he said.

McIntosh also helped her on cause by hitting a home run in a decisive win over Sumter Academy on Saturday.   And the victory over Sumter gave these seniors their 100th win in four years.

Marshall said that since the ninthth grade, the seniors have been State Champions twice, Runner-Up once, and third place this year.

During that time they have won 100 games and only loss 41 games.

“I think it was pretty amazing for our last win of the year with this group of girls was to fall exactly on 100.”

According to Marshall,  since 1999, the Lowndes Academy Softball Program has won five State Championships and finished runner-up three times.  During that same span, they have also finished 3rd four times.

Marshall said, “I think for girls to graduate and new faces to come in, and to still keep the same traditions that we started nearly 17 years ago speaks a lot to the families and children that we are raising at Lowndes Academy.”

He said, “ We have tradition that is rich in friendships and love for each other.”

Marshall also said  this year marked the 12th straight year that Lowndes Academy has had 20+ wins.  It has also qualified for the state tournament now every year that the AISA has participated in fast pitch softball.

Lowndes Academy will graduate seven seniors;  Taylor King, Carmen Till, Sarah Anna McIntosh, Laura Jean McCurdy, Bethanie Daniels, Morgan Renfroe, and Emily Dunning.

“Every senior on this team is special to me,” Marshall said.  “Every senior brought something unique to the team that made them special.”

Marshall said King was the vocal leader,  Till was the perfectionist, Renfroe’s smile and calm restored peace,  McIntosh was the quite determined leader with a heart of a lion, McCurdy  was the volunteer, Daniels  was the slugger, and  Dunning was the Softball player who “probably loved the game more than any other, but suffered  a knee injury that took softball from her.  She was our Inspiration.”

Marshall said,  “Coaching softball for me has always been a process.  I say it every year,  I don’t care where we start, it’s how we finish.   Although I can honestly say that I never know exactly how to develop each team with chemistry, we always seem to find the love for each other by the end of the season.”

Marshall said, “We always seem to care about each other so much it hurts to not win…  My team knows how I feel about them. I love each of them and wish them all the best in their futures.  Our Seniors are amazing young ladies.”

The team includes: Abby Ray, Madolynn Headley, Emily Smith, Laiken Hussey, McCurdy, Avery Morgan, Madison Boone, Dunning, McIntosh, King, Tristan Holly, Emi Ann Glushick, Katie Ray, Till, Hannah Claire Till, Sasha Jaworowski, Renfroe and Daniels.