Memorable MCHS season ends with doubleheader loss to Sequoyah

The Madison County softball team is making those “next year’ plans a little sooner than it wished.

The Raiders (27-4) were bounced by Sequoyah (23-11) Friday in the second round of the state tournament, losing 1-0 and 4-2 in a doubleheader in Danielsville to end one of the program’s most successful seasons in recent years.

“We would like to have an opportunity to play them again,” coach Doug Kesler said. “Of course, we don’t get that opportunity. I felt like we have a better team than they do … They were the better team that day for whatever reason.”

Sequoyah’s only score in game one came when the Chiefs tagged up from third following a spectacular grab by Elizabeth Whieldon in foul territory. Then, the usually sure-handed Raiders surrendered three unearned scores in a season-ending loss in game two.

“Just, for whatever, reason we didn’t make some plays that we’ll make 99 times out of 100,” Kesler said.

There will be no trip to Columbus to savor this year, but Madison County does have a Region 8-AAAA title to add to the trophy case while the team’s 27 wins are the second-most in school history.

“I can’t say enough about how proud I am of them, winning the first region title in Class AAAA,” Kesler said. “And they battled the whole game (Friday).”

After dropping game one, Madison County grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning of game two. But Sequoyah answered with a solo homerun in the second inning. The Chiefs then scored a run on an error in third and two more on another defensive miscue in the fourth.

“Two routine plays that we just weren’t able to convert,” Kesler explained.

The coach also noted that a stellar Friday performance by Erin Gibson fell by the wayside. The senior lefty surrendered just two earned runs in a combined 13 innings Friday.

“It’s a shame that you get that kind of effort out of your pitcher, but we couldn’t find a way to support her enough to score some runs,” Kesler said.

Of course, there were bigger issues than softball surrounding team last week.

Madison County played with a heavy heart Friday after learning that outfielder Timia Skelton’s brother, Trevell Heard (a former MCHS basketball player), died Tuesday.

“Of course, our softball family had a tragedy Tuesday night when we found out about Timia’s brother,” Kesler said. “I know that was weighing heavily on the girls’ minds.”

Now, Madison County looks toward next year and another crack at making it to Columbus.

The program will lose three seniors that helped Madison County earn back-to-back appearances in the state tournament, including an18-game winner in Gibson and a four-year starter at catcher in Katie Bolin.

“We’re going to really miss those three seniors and the leadership we’ve gotten from them,” Kesler said.

Still, most of the roster from a 27-win team returns next fall.

“We’ve got a couple of pitchers returning and some ninth graders that hopefully will be able to step up some,” Kesler said. “We’ve just got to find someone that’s willing to step up and lead.”

With nine juniors on the team this past season, Madison County should find someone to answer that call next fall.

“It doesn’t have to be a senior, but it’s got to be somebody the kids respect and listen to, somebody that’s earned their respect,” Kesler said. “And I think that we’ll have somebody that will do that.”

Sequoyah 1, MCHS 0

SHS 0000010 — 1

MCHS 0000000 — 0

Hitting: Osborne, Bates 1 hit

Pitching: Gibson 7IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 2K, 1BB

Sequoyah 4, MCHS 2

MCHS 20000000 — 2

Sequoyah 011200X — 4

Hitting: LaZear 3-4, Bolin 2-4, Gibson 2B, RBI; Duncan, Bates 1 hit

Pitching: Gibson 6IP, 7H, 4R, 1ER, 3K, 1BB

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