High School Sports

This Glenwood softball player disobeyed her coach. It won her team the state title.

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A recent study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research shows sports might be good for bone health. The study looked at nearly 1,000 children.

She disobeyed her coach. Then she scored the winning run for the state title.

The Glenwood Gators won the 2019 Alabama Independent School Association Class AAA softball championship Friday with a 4-3 victory over Macon East at Lagoon Park in Montgomery.

Glenwood started the eight-team double-elimination tournament Thursday with wins of 8-0 over Russell Christian and 8-1 over Bessemer Academy to advance to the final round.

The Gators beat Macon East 9-3 in their first game Friday. Then, after Macon East came back through the losers bracket, they entered the last inning tied 3-3 in the rematch.

After escaping the top of the seventh when Macon East stranded a runner in scoring position, the Gators won it in extraordinary style.

Wellesley Henderson, a junior, led off by reaching base on an error. Chloe Enfinger, also a junior, pinch-ran for Henderson, and senior Ashley Gallant bunted her to second base.

As senior Sophie Wilkerson grounded out to third base, Glenwood head coach Dusty Perdue signaled for Enfinger to hold at second. But she dashed to third base anyway.

“I’m saying, ‘No, no, no,’ and she went, ‘Go, go, go,’” Perdue recalled with a laugh Monday.

The throw to third was high and went down the left field line. Chloe scampered home and safely slid across the plate.

“It was a bang-bang play,” Perdue said. “I was in shock. You don’t usually win it that way.”

Enfinger learned only after the game that Perdue wanted her to stay at second. They shared a laugh during the celebration.

“I was a little nervous,” Enfinger said of the conversation with her coach. “I knew if I wasn’t safe at third, I’d be in a lot of trouble. But it worked out for us.”

Enfinger never heard or saw Perdue’s direction.

“I think I was just too much in the moment,” she said. “I just thought that I could get there, so I just went.”

Perdue praised Enfinger’s aggressiveness — and her team spirit for taking advantage of her opportunities while being a substitute off the bench.

“She’s an athlete,” he said. “She’s a get-down-in the-dirt girl. She’s our flex player, so she plays defense and doesn’t get to hit much, but she’s an athlete, and she just used her athletic ability there.”

Enfinger said, “I was really happy I was able to do it for the seven seniors. The whole team has been working the whole season to win the championship, so I was excited I could do that for my team.”

All but two of Glenwood’s starters returned from last year’s team that finished second in the tournament. Now, they have won their fourth state championship in five years, and Perdue has won seven in his 10 years as the program’s coach.

Perdue said the team’s seven seniors, including five who have been in the program for seven years, “probably will go down as the winningest senior class I’ve ever coached.”

The Gators (44-10) made the most of their four hits in the final game, delivered by Gallant (2 RBI), Henderson (RBI), Austin Neely and Morgan Grant. In addition to Enfinger, Ariana Pinder, Hope Gullatt and Mae Durham scored Glenwood’s runs.

Gallant, who was named the tournament’s MVP, earned the pitching victory in the final game. In seven innings, she allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits and one walk with four strikeouts.

Pinder, Gullatt and Carle Hampton are the other Gators named to the all-tournament team.

Ledger-Enquirer staff writer Mark Rice covers education and other issues related to youth. He also writes feature stories about any compelling topic. He has been reporting in Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley for more than a quarter-century. He welcomes your local news tips and questions.