HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State’s tennis teams open play today in their first Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC)/Region 22 tournament since 2004.
The two-day event is at the Jimmy Johns Tennis Complex at Point Mallard in Decatur.
Wallace State’s men’s team reeled off wins in three consecutive matches to close the regular season, beating Gadsden State (8-1), Faulkner State (6-3) and Marion Military Institute (6-3).
The strong finish has Wallace State tennis coach Tony Franklin confident the men can clinch a national tournament bid with a strong weekend in Decatur.
“If we play up to our potential and play the way we are capable of playing, we have a very good chance of winning the conference tournament. We have improved so much over the course of the year. I’m very proud of the men. They have worked hard,” Franklin said.
Sophomore Clint Watson, the first Wallace State signee when the program was reintroduced, has put together a stellar season, serving as the Lions’ top singles player.
Cade Pressnell, Donny Camp, Toddric Stallworth, Hunter Manley and Damon Calvert have each consistently recorded singles wins this season for the Lions.
The doubles pairing of Watson and Camp and Pressnell and Calvert have been strong assets for Wallace State.
“Our doubles teams are hard to beat. Our guys don’t like to lose, and our men’s team is honestly better than I thought it was going to be when we first got started,” Franklin said. “We have some competitors. It takes a good team to beat our top players.”
The men’s conference champion and runner-up each advance to the NJCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship in Plano, Texas, on May 15-19.
Meanwhile, the Wallace State women are also seeking a national tournament bid.
The Lady Lions earned a pair of victories over Faulkner State in conference matches this season.
Emily Graves, Tempie Ennis, Nikki Rakestraw and Kelsi Wilson have paced Wallace State.
“Our women’s team continues to get better and continues to learn,” Franklin said. “I was proud of Tempie Ennis over the last few regular season matches. She is gaining more and more confidence and realizing she can win the tough matches.”
The women’s national championship is set for May 7-11 in Tucson, Ariz.
Wallace State softball
Wallace State’s softball team closed the regular season Thursday with a road doubleheader sweep at Central Alabama, winning 7-0 and 12-8.
The Lions closed the regular season with a 35-16 record and a 20-4 mark in Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) play under first-year coach A.J. Daugherty.
Wallace State is the co-ACCC North champion, sharing the title with Shelton State. The Lions have won or shared the ACCC North title for 12 straight seasons.
Freshmen Taylor Stalnaker and Charlee West each cranked homers for Wallace State in Thursday’s opener. Stalnaker also added a double and finished with three RBIs, while West went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.
Brittany Ledbetter went 3-for-4 at the plate for Wallace State, Taylor Beshears had a double among her two hits and Karra Elam added a pair of singles.
Erin Whitlock singled and scored and Amber Hammonds added a single.
Ledbetter (16-8) put together another stellar outing on the mound, striking out seven batters over six shutout innings. She allowed three hits.
Savannah Bolton pitched a scoreless seventh inning.
In the second game, Wallace State scored three runs in the sixth inning and one in the seventh to outlast the Lady Trojans for a 12-8 victory.
Hammonds tied Beshears for the team lead in homers as she blasted her 13th bomb of the year and finished with three RBIs.
Abby Connally went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored for the Lions, Beshears added two more hits, including a RBI double, and Tanner Robertson doubled and had two RBIs.
Karra Elam added an RBI single for Wallace State, Jodie Farnetti had a single and scored twice and Lyndsay Reeves singled and scored.
Wallace State’s Madison Grant was the winning pitcher in relief.
Wallace State can now shift its focus to the ACCC Tournament, which begins on April 28. The Lions are the North’s No. 2 seed because of a tie breaker and receive a first-round bye. They’ll play either Southern Union-Alabama Southern winner at 2 p.m. on April 28.
The Lions will seek a third consecutive ACCC championship and 11th in program history.
For more information about Wallace State athletics, visit www.athletics.wallacestate.edu.