Lady Rebels secure second state championship

Published 2:46 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2024

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For the second year in a row, the Lady Rebels secured the Alabama Independent School Association (AISA) Class A Softball Championship Saturday.

The Lady Rebels finished 26-14 after securing the championship in playoffs May 3-4, defeating the Crenshaw Christian Academy Cougars 11-3 and South Choctaw Academy 2-0 (3-2, 10-8).

Head coach and athletic director Matt Marshall said the team powered through an intentionally challenging season, planned that way to bring opportunity for growth and championship-winning skills.

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“I don’t plan a season that will be easy,” Marshall said. “We played Macon East, that won 3A three or four times. We played Edgewood four times. They were the 2A runners-up. We played Hooper three times. They are the 2A champions. South Choctaw, who we beat for the championship, we played four or five times.

According to Marshall, the season was not without hurdles, but the team overcame all the obstacles to pull out a winning season.

“It was a pretty rough schedule,” Marshall said. “We played a lot of 2A and 3A teams before we jumped back into our classification. So, seeing the growth of the kids was huge, their being able to handle adversity when things don’t always go our way. We didn’t hit as well as we could have, but we still found a way to win. That shows a lot of maturity and growth.”

Catie Wallace Self, a player Marshall said may be the best catcher in the state, played the vital position of shortstop, serving her team where needed to clinch the win.

“I needed her on shortstop more than I needed her catching,” Marshall said. “She led our team in batting average in junior high and on varsity as a ninth grader. She’s a very talented softball player.

Senior Haley Briggs, the only upperclassman on the team, held a lead role on offense, Marshall explained.

“She was my only senior and really had a great offensive year and played a solid defense in left field for us,” Marshall said. “She led the team in RBIs and came through in the clutch, especially in that first game [against South Choctaw] with a two-run RBI early in the game.”

Briggs and Self made the All-Tournament team along with Emma Phillips, who caught all seven games of the tournament, and Elizabeth “Izzy” Sullins who pitched all seven as well. 

-Selecting just four for the all-tournament was a difficult pick, Marshall said.

“I feel like every kid has did well,” Marshall said. “We could only pick four, but we came up with eight or nine.”

The team is young, Marshall added, but players like juniors Presley Hamilton and Alice Murchison provided the leadership needed to support their efforts.

“The girls showed a bit of grit and toughness when the younger kids struggled with handling adversity,” Marshall recalled. “They keep them pumped up and encouraged.”

Briggs, who is in her second year on the championship team, said ending her high school career with the title felt great.

“It feels really good to bring the trophy back home,” Briggs said. “Especially in my senior year. The team is a young team, and it was great to have them with me this year. I trust them to keep growing and doing big things.”