By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – The first inning of Thursday’s Class 3A state semifinals opener was a nightmare for Booneville and a sweet dream for Nettleton.
The three-time defending state champion Lady Tigers took advantage of four walks, two errors and two hits in the inning to score seven runs on their way to a 10-1 victory in the fastpitch best-of-three series.
The second game between the Tigers (23-4) and Blue Devils (17-9-2) is scheduled for noon Saturday in Nettleton. A third game, if necessary, would follow.
“Our game plan was to come here and win one,” said Nettleton senior centerfielder Korie Beth Leach, who had an RBI single in the first inning. “It’s stressful knowing you have to win two on Saturday.
“I’m glad it’s not us.”
Booneville starting pitcher Madison Davis had problems with her location early and walked four of the first five batters she faced. Two fielding errors didn’t help her cause.
Davis kept her composure and one-hit the Tigers over the next four innings.
“One she started locating the ball, she did a pretty decent job,” Booneville coach Lee Boyette said. “You have those bad innings … that’s life.”
Nettleton coach Dana Rhea had talked with his players all week about remaining patient at the plate. It paid off in the first inning when Davis was struggling.
“Our whole game plan coming in was to be patient and swing at good pitches,” he said. “We didn’t hit particularly well tonight, but we were able to make adjustments late.”
No. 9 batter Taylor Smith added a two-run single for Nettleton in its 7-run first inning.
The Tigers didn’t score again until Molly Bramlett collected an RBI double in the sixth inning. They scored their final two runs in the seventh on a single by Leach and a double by Anna Kent.
MariAnna Young pitched a four-hitter to get the win in the circle for the Tigers.
Davis tripled in the Blue Devils’ lone run in the second inning.
“There wasn’t a lack of effort; they played hard,” Boyette said of her club. “They’ll fight and scrap to get back in this thing Saturday.”