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Gotta get that bike

Straughn’s Tori Bracewell slides safely into third base in her game against Geneva last week at the regional tournament. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

There was a 12-year-old boy who received a bike for Christmas.

But the bike got stolen a short time later.

The boy wanted to beat the person up for taking the bike because it was a brand new red bike with white-wall wheels.

Someone intervened and told the boy to take up boxing, instead.

The boy went on to win six Kentucky Golden Glove titles, two National Golden Gloves, two Amateur Athletic Union championships, a Gold Medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Rome Olympic games, and the world professional heavyweight championship three times. Those were was just a few of the total accomplishments he achieved in his career.

That boy’s given name is Cassius Clay, but he’s better known as Muhammad Ali.

Today, the Straughn Lady Tigers will be fighting to get their bike back at the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Class 3A State Softball Tournament in Montgomery at Lagoon Park.

Straughn will kick off against Leeds at 9 a.m. this morning on Field No. 5.

“(Straughn) Coach (Ray) Wilson told the team to imagine that the other team stole our bike so we can have a winning attitude,” senior Kayla Messer said via her Facebook page.

And in an interview with Messer — and her fellow seniors Stephanie Bracewell and Kayla Teel — she said that this “is the year.”

“I really feel that this is the year,” Messer said. “I really do. Third time is a charm.”

Messer said that Wilson told the team the story about Ali and his bike at the south regional tournament in Gulf Shores, where the Lady Tigers beat Headland in the winner’s bracket championship game 3-0 to claim the regional title. That was the second goal accomplished this season for Straughn. The first being to win the area championship.

“We had three goals, and our first goal was to win the area, our second goal was to win the regionals and our third goal was to win state,” Bracewell said.

Wilson said to say that the team is excited about going to state is an understatement.

“I think our girls are excited about the opportunity to get to go back to the state tournament,” he said. “They’re looking forward to it as far as each step you take — the teams get better and better each step of the way.

“I feel like they’re still hungry for it,” he said. “I don’t think there has been a let down or anything like that. Of course, we’ve got to go out and prove it on the field. That’s the thing we’ve got to understand — nobody will give you anything.”

Last year, the Lady Tigers finished runner-up to West Morgan in the finals.

When asked what the team needs to do well at the state tournament, all three seniors said.

“Talk — a lot of talk and communication,” Bracewell said.

Throughout the 2010 season, the Lady Tigers (32-11-1) have taken “Finish Strong” and used it as a team motto, Wilson said.

“Each day we talk about a certain character trait that establishes that attitude,” he said. “I just talk to them about what the character trait of the day is. You still want to improve each step you take, in each tournament and each game.

“You want to do a little better, but there is always something you can improve on individually, and as a team,” he said.

This is the third consecutive year that Straughn is making an appearance at the state tournament.

Bracewell said in order for the team to be successful at state, each player must know what their “role” is on the team.

“I think at regionals, we knew what our role was and what we had to get done,” she said. “I feel that will carry on at state — that everybody will know what their role is.”