St. Al to host MAIS Class 5A South State softball tournament this weekend

Published 2:26 pm Friday, September 22, 2023

One way or another, the St. Aloysius Lady Flashes were going to be at Sports Force Parks this Saturday for the MAIS Class 5A South State softball tournament.

The goal, which they’ve accomplished, was to be participants rather than spectators.

St. Al is the host school for the tournament scheduled for Saturday and Monday, and the No. 3 seed from District 4-5A. It will face Parklane, the No. 2 seed from District 3-5A, in its opener Saturday at 11 a.m.

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“It’s an honor to have the tournament in Vicksburg. It’s an honor to have St. Al be the host. It’s a privilege to be in the tournament and a statement that the girls have worked very, very hard,” St. Al coach Mike Foley said. “It’s an honor to make it. Over half the teams do not make it. We’ll take that accomplishment and own it, and work hard to improve.”

Qualifying for the postseason is indeed a significant accomplishment for St. Al. This is the first time since the school joined the MAIS in 2015 that it has done it.

In Foley’s first year as coach, the Lady Flashes finished the regular season with a 15-7 record that was a six-win improvement over 2022.

The junior varsity team also had a winning record, and there are only two seniors on the roster. Foley said that should mark this season as the start of an upward trend and not a one-off success.

“We’re only losing two seniors, so the outlook should be improved,” Foley said. “The girls should buy in and work to improve. We have a strong window for the next three years plus.”

As for this year, getting out of the South State tournament will not be easy. St. Al went 0-4 against Copiah Academy and Cathedral, the top two seeds from District 4-5A, including two losses last week. St. Al was outscored 51-5 in those losses. The Lady Flashes have not played any of the teams from District 3-5A.

Foley said Copiah and Cathedral both have pitchers that can carry a team through a tournament. Copiah’s Marisa Spitchley and Tye Boone have combined for 151 strikeouts in 168 2/3 innings. Boone limited St. Al to four hits and no runs in a 15-0 victory on Sept. 12.

Cathedral’s Lily Crum has 153 strikeouts in 83 innings. She had 13, and only allowed one run, in an 11-1 win over St. Al on Sept. 18.

“This is probably the toughest division in MAIS. We have eight quality teams coming to play,” Foley said. “When you’ve got a girl that throws 57 (mph) plus, you can bank them because nobody can hit her. There will be some pitchers at 57 to 60 this weekend.”

The top four teams from the double-elimination South and North State tournaments advance to next week’s Class 5A state tournament in Magee.

Eleven games will be played Saturday at Sports Force Parks, with the first at 9 a.m. and the last starting at 7 p.m.
On Monday, the final two teams in the winners’ bracket will play at noon. The loser of that game will face the team that survives the losers’ bracket at 2 p.m. The championship game is scheduled for 4 p.m.

Admission to the tournament is $10 each day, and is good for all games.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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