North Alabama’s three representatives on the Alabama Stars softball roster certainly weren’t overwhelmed by the moment when given their chance to shine against Team USA.
Instead, infielder Reagan Tittle, outfielder Bailey Nelson and pitcher Hillary Carpenter proved up to the task and likely picked up a few fans among the more than 3,000 in attendance at Rhoads Stadium on Thursday night at the exhibition doubleheader
Even though Team USA beat the Alabama Stars 9-1 and 7-0, all three of the Lions made contributions and proved Division II players can play on equal footing with some of the best players in the world.
Tittle got several nice ovations after making three standout defensive plays in the first game. Nelson had two hits in the doubleheader, including the only hit the Alabama Stars mustered in the second game. Carpenter, who recently completed her eligibility, pitched 1⅔ innings and didn’t allow a run in the second game.
It added up to a memorable night for the trio.
“It’s kind of neat that I can end my career with this game,” said Carpenter, who is getting married in early August. “I’m glad I got to meet (Team USA) and be on the same field with them. Some of them probably come from small towns like Florence. It’s neat that we are all from different places and at different spots in our lives.”
Carpenter wasn’t surprised at how well Tittle and Nelson played. She’s had an up-close and personal view for the past four years.
“I was so proud of Bailey and Reagan,” she said. “I’m so glad they are getting this chance to be out there. They proved they belonged out there and it’s so much fun to be representing UNA one last time.”
UNA coach Ashley Cozart watched the doubleheader with several current and incoming players.
“I actually got emotional coming to the game,” UNA coach Ashley Cozart said. “Those kids have worked so hard and I am so proud of them. They deserved to be here and they showed they could play with the best, that’s for sure.”
All three UNA players were part of the team that won the Division II national championship in 2016 in Denver. Nelson, who played at Central, and Tittle had a difficult time deciding which was the better softball moment in their careers.
“I don’t think I can compare it the national championship,” Nelson said. “It’s just an honor to be out there playing against the best of the best and representing UNA. I kind of got chills when I went out there.”
Tittle, from Lynn, ranked the experience in her top three softball moments.
“The national championship, this and high school playoffs,” she said. “This was different from the national championship. That was more of a family bond. This was more of a fun experience. This is a dream come true.”