(Kneeling L-R) Brandee Allen, Megan Jones, Madison Dennis,
Captain Brogan Richards, Haley Murphy, and Summer Jones.
(Standing L-R) Coach Argil Jones, Alexis Copeland, Alison
Dennis, Captain Haley Wilson, Amber Hatfield, Whitney Stevens,
Tori Carpenter, Katie Jones, Paige Persinger, Coach Suzanne Bennett
By Jeremy Johnson
The tournament began as most do for Calhoun. The Lady Red Devils came in as the underdog, the 5th of five seeds in the sectional tournament, despite earning several wins (6-12) during the regular season.
As the tournament approached, most thought that with the odds stacked against them, it would be a quick and easy exit. Luckily, these young ladies were bound and determined to make this year's Cinderdevil campaign a memorable one. Head Coach Suzanne Allen said of their run, "The ladies never give up. Even if they get down, they fight to come back. I'm so proud of their effort."
The sectional started off with a bang for Calhoun on Tuesday, May 1st. They came out swinging and after the dust settled from Haley Wilson's three-run homer and a two-run homer, the #2 seed Williamstown went down in flames on their home field (17-14). After the realization that #1 seed Wahama lost to #3 seed Wirt on Wednesday, our Lady Red Devils were in the driver's seat.
Calhoun came out hot again on Thursday with steady pitching and fielding. Boosted by another two-run homer by Wilson, the Lady Red Devils earned an emphatic victory (13-5) over Wirt County on the road.
With that, Calhoun was in total control as the only team left on the winner's side of the double elimination tournament bracket. The rest of the week came and went, with Wahama winning their way through the loser's bracket to set up a home game for Calhoun on Monday, May 7th.
Excitement buzzed as Calhoun had their shot to finish off the section at home. Wahama had other plans, earning a 10 run victory over Calhoun in spite of a two-run home run from Madison Dennis. These Cinderdevils used the loss to fuel their fire to keep the hope alive for a championship.
The following day, Calhoun hopped in their cars and off to Wahama they went for the deciding game of the sectional tournament. Under the direction of Coach Allen and Assistant Coach Argil Jones, the ladies showed laser focus even though there are no seniors on the team. As Team Captains Brogan Richards and Haley Wilson said, "It's hard to beat a team that never gives up." Again using great fielding and pitching, and that sensational hitting capped by a two run homer from Alison Dennis, Calhoun earned their first sectional tournament championship in 11 years in an 8-4 win.
Athletic Director Jeremy Johnson said, "These girls and coaches deserve a ton of credit for their efforts. They worked hard to get this championship, and were victorious."
Calhoun's own Cinderdevils will now face off against Sherman in a best of 3 series to determine the regional championship and earn a spot in the state championship tournament.
Johnson encourages all Calhoun residents to "take a moment on this weekend to put a sign in your yard supporting these girls and, if you have time, make the trek to Sherman Monday evening to cheer them on. They deserve it."
Johnson also credited the UMBC Athletics Twitter account for coining the ladies' new nickname, the Cinderdevils. "My wife decided to tweet their account for ideas due to its witty writing and the UMBC Cinderella run in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. They came up with the nickname for her."
Next Tuesday, Calhoun (10-13) will host the second game of the series which will be the Lady Red Devil's last home game and the community's last chance to show their support.
The Cinderdevils already have one championship under their belt, and have a legit shot of adding two more.