Brister: Patriots have good chemistry
Fri. May 18, 2012 at 1:00 a.m. | By Andrew Carroll
AHSAA Class 6A
At Lagoon Park, Montgomery
Noon – Dothan (38-15) vs. Job Jones (45-17)
Noon – Vestavia Hills (51-7) vs. Theodore (30-17-1)
Noon – Baker (56-11) vs. Hillcrest (47-12)
Noon – Sparkman (59-7-1) vs. Central-Phenix City (41-14-1)
7 p.m. – Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser
7 p.m. – Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser
7 p.m. – Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner
7 p.m. – Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner
9 a.m. – Game 7 loser vs. Game 6 winner
9 a.m. – Game 8 loser vs. Game 5 winner
10:30 a.m. – Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner
Noon – Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner
3 p.m. – Game 11 loser vs. Game 12 winner
5:30 p.m. – Game 11 winner vs. Game 13 winner
7 p.m. – if necessary
TUSCALOOSA | Callie Brister had to make a tough choice regarding two milestone events.
She could have stayed home and participated in tonight’s graduation ceremony with her Hillcrest High School classmates. Brister opted to head for Montgomery to pursue a state championship.
Brister and Caitlyn Freeman are the only seniors on a Hillcrest softball team that qualified for the AHSAA Class 6A tournament at Lagoon Park. The Lady Patriots open at noon today against Baker of Mobile.
"It means everything," said Brister, a shortstop. "Everybody’s dreamed about this since they were like 5 years old, to be able to play for a state championship. I don’t get to walk my senior night for my graduation. We’ll be playing a game, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be."
The senior class might be small, but there’s talent throughout the lineup. Brister usually bats third with sophomore left-fielder Desiree Morrow hitting fourth. Each has hit more than 20 home runs.
"All the new girls came in, and they just started working hard as soon as they got here," Brister said. "We had a lot of team chemistry right off the bat. As soon as we started practicing, we all were kind of surprised at how good we were. We lost seven seniors from last year, so we didn’t know how we were going to handle it. All these girls came in and filled major spots. They stepped up when they needed to. You just knew from the start we were going to have a good year."
Bristed bunted in a run when the Lady Patriots rallied in the bottom of the seventh inning to edge Northridge in the Area 9 tournament final. She hit three home runs against Minor in the North Central Regional.
"There are no surprises left," Brister said. "We’ve played in big games. We’ve won by a lot. We’ve won by a little. We’ve bunted to win. We’ve hit home runs to win. We’ve got it all. We’re ready."
Hillcrest went 4-2 in the regional and advanced as the runner-up to Vestavia Hills.
"I thought coming in we’d have the ability," said Hillcrest coach Ted Swinney. "I just didn’t know how we would jell together and if we would have the chemistry or not. That was the only thing I was really unsure about.
"The chemistry has been perfect, and I think it helped us get here."
Swinney has two reliable pitchers in sophomores Allison Freeman and Karley Sanders. When Freeman pitches, Sanders usually starts at second base. If Sanders pitches, junior Ashley Hixon fills in at second.
The other starters include sophomore catcher Lyndsey Vaughan; sophomore first baseman Samantha Cummings; junior third baseman Anna Blake Barnette; freshman Bree Fornis in center field; and Freeman in right field. Sophomore Abby Turner can fill in as the designated player.
"We’ve just got to show up and play our game," Swinney said. "We’re not going to worry about it being a bigger show. We’re happy to be there, but we’re also on a mission."
Reach Andrew Carroll at email@example.com or at 205-722-0223.