Glenwood sophomore Macey Tucker had pitched five innings of near flawless softball. She and the Gators led Macon-East 1-0 going into the sixth in the first game of the AISA AAA softball state tournament's final day.
But sixth-inning mistakes undid the Gators.
"We loaded the bases with two errors, botched bunt coverage, and a run-down breakdown at third," Glenwood coach Dusty Perdue said. "You make one mistake, and you pay for it."
That one big mistake landed 10 feet behind the fence for a grand slam. Macon-East won the first game 4-1, sending Glenwood to the losers bracket.
"That first game is what did us in," Perdue said.
Glenwood then played Kingwood, a team it had beat Friday 8-1 in the winners bracket, in an elimination game.
Whitley Pope, who finished Saturday's first game against Macon-East, started against Kingwood. The Gators trailed 3-0 going into the fifth before scoring five runs. Pope, Bailey Pelkey, and Havilen Hunter started the fifth with three straight singles. Kailey Riley singled home Pope and Pelkey. Also in the inning, catcher Cailah Niles doubled home a run and first baseman Allie Kelley had a sac fly RBI.
Kingwood, led by pitcher Madeline Lee, who was also 4-4 with a two-run home run, tied the game 5-5 in the sixth.
The two teams remained tied through seven. In the top of the eighth, Kelley doubled home Niles, who started the inning on second as part of high school softball international tiebreaker rule. Pope then scored Kelley on an RBI single and Glenwood retired the side in the home half of the eighth for a 7-5 win.
"I'm proud of the way we fought back and executed in the last couple innings," Perdue said.
Then it was a rematch with Macon-East, whom Glenwood had to beat twice to claim its fourth-straight state title. The game was Glenwood's third of the day -- all on the same field, all back-to-back, all in the cloying Alabama humidity.
Glenwood ace Tucker started strong on the mound, shutting out Macon-East for two innings. But the dam broke in the third, with Macon-East scoring eight runs.
"Macey just ran out of gas," Perdue said. "The sun poked its head out in that second game, and we sweated it out."
Macon-East won the game -- and the AISA AAA state championship -- 11-0 in five innings.
"The better team won today," Perdue said. "I don't think anyone would disagree when I say we were one pitcher away from being where we wanted to be. But Coach (Glynn) Lott is a good friend, and I'm proud for him and his team."
First baseman Allie Kelley, also one of Glenwood's two top pitchers along with Tucker, just recently returned from shoulder surgery. She, along with all but one starter, returns for the Gators next season.
"Maybe that will leave a bad taste in our mouth for next year; make them work harder," Perdue said. "Macon-East only has one senior leaving as well. It could be us and them for the next couple years."
Tucker, shortstop Megan Lavender and Niles were named to the all-tournament team.