The Red Alert-Jones softball team had just taken a one-run lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning against Assault in the 14-and-under C bracket of the Indiana USSSA 2017 State Tournament.

Pitcher Lilly Hurt had already gotten two outs for Red Alert at the bottom of the seventh, but she was buried in a 3-0 count to her next batter with a runner on base. Hurt stayed poised, throwing three consecutive strikes to win the game.

Red Alert-Jones now is just one game away from playing for the championship if it can get past HTR at 12:30 p.m. today at Lincoln Park. Hurt, who will be a sophomore at Columbus North, said she did not feel any nerves pitching at the end of the game and is glad she was able to help her team win.

“It feels really good,” Hurt said. “I don’t like to lose.”

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Red Alert has five total teams across all of the different age groups and brackets competing in the tournament, and all five are still alive. Jeff Jones, coach of the 14U squad, likes his team’s chances of getting to the championship game if it continues to play the way it has.

This is the first year his team has competed in this particular tournament, but there are other Columbus-based teams who have been participating for years. Eleven of the 266 teams in this year’s event are from Columbus.

Columbus East incoming senior Kamryn Cantu has been playing in the tournament for three years now. She was playing for the Indiana Nitro team in the 16-and-under B bracket.

Cantu said playing in the tournament every year allows her to see many different pitchers and lets her know what she needs to work on. She also added that there is always good competition during the state tournament.

“It’s fun, and if it wasn’t good competition, I probably wouldn’t play in it as much,” Cantu said. “You get to see what you can handle, and can’t handle and what you need to practice more on. Since it’s a state tournament, it’s a big deal, so you have to concentrate.”

Ed Loweth has been coaching the Indiana Nitro team for 37 years and said playing travel ball is important to the development of young softball athletes. The Nitro program has sent about 50 players to the college level.

“If you’re not playing on a travel team, then you never get a chance to really get better,” Loweth said.

The tournament will wrap up today with six Columbus-based teams still alive. The first games will kick of at 8 a.m. and end with the most of the championship games at 5 and 6:30 p.m. at Lincoln Park, Ceraland, Dunn Stadium, Southside Elementary and Edinburgh.

Local Teams

When and where the remaining local teams play their first games today:

Red Alert-Jones (14U-C), 12:30 p.m., Lincoln Park No. 2

Red Alert 04 (12U-A), 11 a.m., Lincoln Park No. 5

Southern Indiana Impact King (12U-B), 11 a.m., Lincoln Park No. 1

Southern Indiana Impact Streeval (11U), 12:30 p.m., Edinburgh No. 3

Southern Indiana Impact (10U-B), 11 a.m., Ceraland No. 4

Red Alert (10U-C), 8 a.m., Ceraland No. 9

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Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at fbonner@therepublic.com or 812-379-5632.