When Austin High girls soccer takes to the field in the fifth annual Shamrock Girls' Invitational this weekend, it isn't all about the game.
The Black Bears will wear a band on their shin guards with the initials "B.E.R." as tribute to Bailey Robinson, the former Austin soccer player who was killed in an automobile accident Dec. 2, 2011.
Robinson's birthday was March 17. She would have turned 17 this year.
"She was on the soccer team, so this is one way that we remember her and recognize her," said Mollie Olinger, a junior, who grew up playing soccer with Robinson.
The Black Bears (2-2) will play two tournament games Friday and one Saturday before the points system determines which teams advance to the championship rounds.
Last year, Austin beat Athens in the tournament, but was one point short of advancing.
Familiar faces at Lawrence County tourney: The rivalry between Hatton and Lawrence County softball runs deep, but the funny thing about the school divide is just how well the two teams know each other.
Though she was reluctant to say, Red Devils senior shortstop Whitney Woodard said if she had to pick, she would choose to play with Hatton pitcher Hillary Carpenter and Carey Grace Peebles.
"I've played with them for so long," she said, explaining how the three have played on the same travel softball team since they were 8 years old.
But is it an advantage?
"To an extent," Woodard said. "Some of us have hit off Hillary more. I guess we know what's coming."
Class 2A No. 1 Hatton and Lawrence County will open the tournament noon Friday at H.A. Alexander Park in Moulton, followed by R.A. Hubbard and East Lawrence. Five games will be played Friday in the double-elimination bracket, with the winners' bracket decided Friday night.
The finals will start noon Saturday. Admission is $2 for students and $5 for adults.
Friends or not, the two teams won't be thinking about friendships when they take the field Friday.
"It's not really that big of a game for us," said Adrien Coffey, a Lawrence County senior and first baseman. "It's more of a pride thing."
ASWA rankings: Seven area teams were ranked in this week's Alabama Sports Writers Association baseball and softball rankings.
In Class 5A baseball, Hartselle (10-4) fell from No. 4 to No. 6, while Class 4A No. 10 Ardmore (7-2) and Class 1A No. 2 Athens Bible (10-0) held their positions.
In Class 5A softball, Hartselle (5-5-1) dropped to No. 10, while Ardmore (4-3) rose to Class 4A No. 10. Class 2A No. 1 Hatton (8-1) remained strong at the top of its division, while Athens Bible (6-3) fell to No. 9 in Class 1A. Athens (8-5-2) and Danville (9-2) also received votes for the top 10.
Meredith Qualls can be reached at 256-340-2395 or email@example.com. She is also on Twitter, @DailyMeredith.
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