ECHS region bound

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Escambia County Lady Blue Devils and pitcher Kaylee Cox , above, willl face the Headland Lady Rams in the regional tournament Friday at the Gulf Shores Softball Complex in Gulf Shores.

Escambia County has knocked a big goal off of a checklist that the Lady Blue Devils softball team created prior to this season.

With an upset victory over the hosting UMS-Wright Lady Bulldogs last week in the area tournament in Mobile, the Lady Blue Devils (15-10) guaranteed themselves a spot in the regional tournament this Friday in Gulf Shores.

Long before the 2012 season began, the Lady Blue Devils began working and set out a list of goals they wanted to achieve with making a regional appearance sitting at the top of the list.

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Reaching that goal has put the team and its second-year head coach Darryl Otwell into a happy position.

“Back last summer when we started the weight program, we made a goal to make a regional appearance,” Otwell said. “Our girls were coming off of some rough seasons the last few seasons, so setting the goal high to reach the regional and see them attain that goal is truly an honor. Making the regionals means we are one of the Top 32 teams in our classification, so there can’t be any complaints about that.”

The Lady Blue Devils battled throughout the season opening with a 9-0 record and a ranking in the state poll before closing the season on a 6-10 slide.

During that final 16 game stretch, ECHS finished 1-3 against UMS-Wright and Saraland earning an upset victory over the Lady Spartans in Saraland.

Moving into the area tournament, the Lady Blue Devils lost again to Saraland and faced elimination at the hands of UMS-Wright after crushing B.C. Rain to stay alive in the tournament.

Things fell the way of the Lady Blue Devils in their third meeting with the Lady Bulldogs, as they earned a 4-3 win last Thursday.
Earning the win over UMS-Wright shows Otwell how far his team has come this season.

“UMS-Wright got us twice in the regular season,” Otwell said. “We struggled at UMS-Wright in both of my seasons here, so to go up there in the area tournament and come away with a win was big. Give credit to UMS for playing tough, but at the end of the day, our girls just stepped up and made the big plays.”

Now with a runner-up finish in the area tournament after falling to Saraland, the Lady Blue Devils turn their attention to a trip to Gulf Shores and the Headland Lady Rams.

The match up will be a test for the Lady Blue Devils with Otwell learning that they have a strong team.

“I’ve been told that Headland is a great team,” Otwell said. “I heard they have a lot of power and play the game the right way. At this point in the year, each team is capable of competing, and I feel our girls have earned the spot they have. We are going to play great softball and take care of ourselves in this game.”

The Lady Blue Devils and Lady Rams will face off at 8 a.m. at the Gulf Shores Softball Complex in Gulf Shores.