By Josh Bean
Oxford, AL – Hazel Green center fielder Mackenzie Bowling kept swinging and the ball kept flying out of the park.
Bowling clubbed two homers in the AHSAA Class 6A State Championship game’s sixth inning – a two-run shot for the Trojans’ first runs of the game and a three-run homer that essentially put the game out of reach – as Hazel Green (38-17) scored nine runs and earned a 9-5 victory over Springville in Saturday’s Class 6A championship game at Choccolocco Park’s signature stadium.
“I’m on top of the world,” Bowling told reporters after the game. “It was nice to get me a little something. This is an amazing feeling.”
Hazel Green trailed 5-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning in the final game of the Trojans’ marathon road to the title. At that point, the team appeared destined to finished as runner-up. Springville starter Reagan Cornelius kept the Trojans in check as the Tigers (39-12) built a 5-0 lead after five innings.
When Springville’s McKenzie Brown hit a mammoth three-run homer to left in the fifth, Hazel Green’s championship hopes appeared more and more doubtful.
Mattie Boyette opened the sixth with a double, and Bowling followed with a homer that clearly energized the determined Trojans. Then, with two outs and the bases loaded, Mariah Bazile hit a roller toward Springville second baseman Emmy Leopard. The ball and runner Caroline Sticker arrived about the same time, and the ball slipped into right field. All three runners – Caroline Cartron, Reagan Wall and Sticker – scored before the play was over, and Hazel Green suddenly led 6-5. Springville coach Brandon Easterwood appealed for an obstruction call to no avail and the inning continued.
Later, after Boyette walked, Bowling smashed her second homer – the final one a three-run shot. She finished the with the two dingers and five RBIS – all in the nine-run inning. Mariah Bazile also had two hits and three RBIs, and Caroline Carron had three hits for the Trojans.
“It was just a great game, especially the fact that we were down for so long,” Bowling said.
McKenzie Newcomb pitched the complete-game win in the finals allowing 11 hits and striking out five.
Brown was 4-for-4 for Springville with two homers and five RBIs. She also had a double. Bekah Hargrove also had two hits.
Hazel Green earned a 10-0 mercy-rule victory over Springville to force the winner-take-all finale in the championship round. Earlier in in the day Saturday, the Trojans won a 16-7 victory over Mortimer Jordan in the elimination bracket finals.
Hazel Green, the school that also won the 6A girls’ basketball title in March, emerged from the elimination bracket after falling 8-6 to Springville on Friday night in the winner’s bracket finals.
The Class 3A State Championship game scheduled to start at 5 p.m., finally got underway near 7:30 p.m., Saturday night with the “if” game scheduled to follow if needed. The 6A Championship Series was live-streamed over the NFHS Network and televised over the AHSAA TV Network produced by WOTM TV. The 3A finals were also scheduled to be live-streamed and televised over the same networks.
Class 6A All-State Tournament Team: Makayln Kyser, McKenzie Brown and Regan Cornelius, Springville; Mackenzie Bowling, Mariah Bazile, Hazel Green; MVP – Mackenzie Newcomb, Hazel Green.
In other 6A games Saturday:
HAZEL GREEN 10, SPRINGVILLE 0: Hazel Green’s McKenzie Newcomb did a little bit of everything, with three hits and two RBIs at the plate while allowing just four hits to earn the complete-game victory and set up the winner-take-all finale. Mariah Bazile added two RBIs and courtesy runner Haley McDaniel scored three times.
HAZEL GREEN 16, MORTIMER JORDAN 7: In a game that lasted nearly three hours from start to finish under the unrelenting sun, Hazel Green jumped out to a 9-0 lead and held on to advance to the championship round. Mackenzie Bowling hit a two-run inside-the-park homer and later added a three-run shot. Briley Zimmerman also drove in three runs. McKenzie Newcomb struck out seven and earned the pitching win and drove in two runs. Caroline Cartron added four hits for Hazel Green. Lexi Graves had two-run double and Sara Marlow was 2-for-3 with one run scored and an RBI for Mortimer Jordan, which finished the season with a 23-22-1 record.
MORTIMER JORDAN 5, HELENA 4: Mortimer Jordan opened Saturday’s 6A elimination bracket with a 5-4 victory – surviving as controversy swirled at the end. The Huskies appeared to take the lead when two runs scored on Presley Lively’s bunt, but she was called out for stepping out of the batter’s box. Helena’s coach was ejected while arguing the call with the home-plate umpire. Runners were sent back to second and third, and Mortimer Jordan pitcher Alyssa Brown then got a strikeout to end the game. Ainsley Grimes singled home Brooke Nash with the go-ahead run in the second inning.
Mortimer Jordan’s Gerri Luttrell hit a two-run homer. For Helena (48-14), Emily Crowe drove in two runs and Alana Scott had three hits.
Photo: Mackenzie Bowling congratulated by Hazel Green teammates after second homer | Josh Bean