Brantley Lady Bulldogs pull of the 3-peat

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Brantley Lady Bulldogs fought their way through the loser’s bracket to claim their third-straight Class 1A State Championship Thursday night in Montgomery.

Brantley opened up the state tournament with dominant wins over South Lamar and Spring Garden on Wednesday. The Lady Bulldogs 10-run ruled both teams on Wednesday.

Things got a little dicey for the Lady Bulldogs on Thursday morning when they wound up in the loser’s bracket after falling 1-0 to Billingsley.

The game between Billingsley and Brantley was pitcher’s duel from the word go, and remained knotted at zero until the top of the fifth inning.

Leanna Johnson dazzled from the pitcher’s circle for the Lady Bulldogs, but with two outs in the top of the fifth a Billingsley player crushed a pitch over the fence in center to make it a 1-0 game.

Johnson didn’t let the run faze her, but the Lady Bulldogs just couldn’t muster a run off Billingsley.

Johnson threw a complete game allowing just two hits and one run while striking out 10.

Brantley didn’t let going to the loser’s bracket bring them down as they blasted past Spring Garden 10-0 for the second time in the tournament. This time it eliminated Spring Garden from the competition.

Alex Wilcox, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer on Dec. 25, 2015, led the way for the Lady Bulldogs in the win. Alex Wilcox went 3-for-4 with five runs driven in and three runs scored. Olivia Jones finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Kassidy Wilcox finished the game 3-for-4 with one RBI and three runs scored.

Johnson once again showed why she is one of the top pitchers in the state in Class 1A with another dominating performance from the pitcher’s circle. Johnson pitched a compete-game shutout allowing just two hits and striking out 10.

With the win over Spring Garden, Brantley moved into the championship series against Billingsley. The Lady Bulldogs would need to beat Billingsley twice to claim the title, and that they did.

Game one of the championship series was another pitcher’s duel between Johnson and Billingsley’s ace.

Heading into the fourth inning, only one batter from each team had reached first safely. Brantley started with a groundout to start the top of the fourth and then Kassidy Wilcox hammered a line drive over the fence in center to put the Lady Bulldogs on top 1-0.

Billingsley tied the game up in the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff home run over the fence in right.

After two quick out to start the top of the sixth inning, Lainey Wells ripped a double to right, and then Kassidy Wilcox followed with a double of her own to put Brantley on top 2-1.

Alex Wilcox then singled home her sister to for a 3-1 lead. Alex Wilcox then scored on a steal of home to give the Lady Bulldogs a 4-1 victory.

Kassidy Wilcox finished the game 2-for-3 with a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored.

Johnson picked up the win with a complete game performance.

In the championship game, the Lady Bulldogs grabbed and early lead and held on for a 5-1 victory to claim their third Class 1A title in a row.

Hannah Sims got things started for Brantley with a single to leadoff the bottom of the first.

Sims then moved up to second on sacrifice, but then was picked off second. Billingsley opted not to pitch to Kassidy Wilcox with one out and the bases now empty, and instead sent her to first on an intentional pass.

It was a move that would soon haunt them, when Alex Wilcox mashed a 2-2 pitch over the fence in center to put Brantley on top 2-0.

Brantley tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the third off RBIs from the Wilcox sisters.

The final run of the game came when Kassidy Wilcox sent a solo homer sailing out of left in the bottom of the fifth.

Alex Wilcox finished the game 1-for-3 with three RBIs, and Kassidy Wilcox went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. They each had one home run in the game.