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Belles win eastern district

The Troy Belles are heading north in two weeks.

The team of 13- to 15-year-old softball players recently won the Alabama Dixie Belles District 6 Eastern division on Independence Day in Ozark.

“This is such a wonderful feeling,” Troy head coach Steve Finlayson said. “I am just so glad I did not mess it up for these girls. They worked so hard and they did great. I think it has finally sunk in that we are going to state.”

After dropping the first game of a best-of-three game series Thursday the Troy Belles took out Elba 5-2 Friday and 8-7 in the bottom of the seventh inning Saturday.

“A lot of these girls have never been to state and I am just so happy for them,” Finlayson said. “The final game started out in the worst way possible for us. We were down 5-0 in the second inning.”

Finlayson said the deficit did not faze his team and Troy battled right out of the hole and on to victory.

“We breezed through the sub-district tournament and we ran into some trouble in this tournament,” Finlayson said. “But our scrappiness showed through when we were down by five runs. It impressed me how well they played together when we were down.”

Elba opened the scoring and held a 5-0 lead going into the bottom of the second, but Troy fought back with one run in the third and two in the fourth to cut the advantage to 5-3.

Becca Hartley doubled and scored on an RBI single from Kristen Finlayson in the third. Mary Michael Dunn laced an RBI triple to score Tootie Goshea and Hannah Fountain plated Dunn with an RBI single.

The Troy bats stayed hot in the fourth, as the Lady Trojans scored four runs on five hits to take a 7-6 lead.

Madison Mehaffey opened the inning with a single, Hartley knocked her home with an RBI triple. Hartley then scored on an RBI bunt from Stephanie Finlayson and Conleigh Gilmore brought Finlayson home with a single to tie the score at 6-6.

Brooke Hudson picked up an RBI with a single that scored Gilmore and gave Troy the lead. Elba tied the score in the fifth inning and after neither team did anything in the sixth inning Troy ended the game in the seventh.

Hartley reached on an error and Stephanie Finlayson put down another bunt and Hartley made it to third with some crafty base running. With two outs, Hartley scored on a passed ball to send Troy to the state tournament.

Hartley led Troy at the plate, going 2-for-3 with three runs scored, a double and a triple. Steve Finlayson said Hannah Fountain stepped up huge for Troy.

“Hannah had not pitched that much for us, but she stepped up when we needed her the most and did a wonderful job,” he said.

Fountain relieved Kristen Finlayson in the circle for Troy and pitched 5.2 innings while allowing four runs on two hits and four walks. She struck out six batters for the win.

“We only allowed five hits in seven innings and that is terrific,” Steven Finlayson said.

Finlayson said the play of the outfield was also a key to the team’s success.

“One thing that is often overlooked is the play of the outfield,” he said. “They have played terrific defense for us so far and have made some great catches that have kept runs off the board.”

Troy plays for a state championship beginning July 17 at 7 p.m. in Hartselle. Joining Troy from District 6 is Ariton, who beat Wicksburg in the Western division at the district tournament in Ozark.