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County softball tournament set for Thursday

Chilton County High School looks to defend its title as Chilton County Softball Tournament champion, as the county tournament begins Thursday at 4 p.m at Sam Bentley Field in Thorsby.

Chilton County High School looks to defend its title as Chilton County Softball Tournament champion, as the county tournament begins Thursday at 4 p.m at Sam Bentley Field in Thorsby.

The battle for softball supremacy begins Thursday in Thorsby, as the 2015 Chilton County Softball Tournament begins at 4 p.m.

The Thorsby Rebels will serve as tournament host but won’t exactly have home field advantage.

“We’re not playing on our field,” Thorsby head coach Leighsa Robinson said. “It’s on the town fields. The dates were already set before I (took over as head coach). We decided to put it there to do pool play.”

The town’s complex was chosen because it allows the opportunity to play two games simultaneously, Robinson said.

Robinson also said pool play to decide seeding instead of going with just a single-elimination tournament gave teams a chance to gain experience, instead of potentially leaving after a single game.

“I like it because it give you more games,” she said. “It gives you more of an opportunity to play ball.”

Experience is something almost every team needs, according to Robinson, given the amount of games cancelled due to inclement weather thus far in the season.

“The rain has hurt us,” she said. “It’s been horrible, but we’re in the same boat as everybody else in that regard. You can only do so much indoors.”

While the Rebels are a young team, Robinson said there is no better place for a team to gel than the county tournament.

“(Winning) gives you a sense of confidence, that what you’re doing is working,” she said. “Having that confidence going into the second half of the season, it just gives you a boost.”

For the defending county tournament champion Chilton County Tigers, repeating as champion is a goal, but not the only goal, head coach Clark Watley said.

“I think it’s important,” he said. “The players know that overall, it’s how we finish in area. (Winning the county tournament) is important, but not the most important. State is our ultimate goal.”

With that said, Watley said his squad holds the county tournament in the highest regard.

“You approach it just like the area tournament,” he said. “We want to defend. I just encourage them to have pride. We have good teams in Chilton County. It’s a pride thing.”

Watley also said the tournament brings out the best in each team that participates.

“It’s a great honor,” he said. “I think its important to have everyone compete. Whether you’re in 1A or 6A, you’ve got nine girls on the field. We’ve got to approach it nine girls versus nine girls.”

For Maplesville, the opportunity to play larger schools figures to serve as a chance to gain experience for an otherwise young Red Devils squad.

“We’re still a young team,” head coach Josh Averett said. “Having all those rainouts hurt us experience wise, but we’re improving. Hopefully were going into it with a little momentum.”

The squad features just two seniors, but Averett said he felt the team could benefit from playing larger programs, such as 6A Chilton County and 5A Jemison.

“The more games we can play, the better,” he said. “The better competition we see now, the better it is for us later.”

Averett also said it was important to maintain the team’s identity while figuring out a sense of chemistry.

“I don’t think you change the approach,” he said. “In pool games, you might play around with the lineup a little.”

Averett said taking home the tournament championship could have a ripple effect on the entire season.

“We haven’t beaten a good team yet,” he said. “(A strong performance) gives you confidence going forward.”

The tournament will begin at 4 p.m. on Thursday, with Maplesville and Jemison and Isabella opening pool play. The second round of pool play begins at 5:30, with Thorsby and Jemison facing off, with Verbena and Chilton County playing at the same time.

The evening wraps up with Thorsby taking on Maplesville and Verbena and Isabella playing at 7:30.

Seeding for the tournament will be determined by pool play records, and the single elimination tournament will begin Friday at 4 p.m. The winners of Pool A (Maplesville, Thorsby and Jemison) and Pool B (Isabella, Chilton County and Verbena) will have a first round bye.

The second place team in Pool A will face the third place finisher in Pool B—and vice-versa—at 4 p.m., with the winner moving on to face the No. 1 seeds at 5:30 p.m.

The winner of the two 5:30 games will then face off at 7 p.m. to decide the 2015 champion.

The tournament will be held at Sam Bentley Field, located at 355 Alabama Avenue in Thorsby.