By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Four teams from Northeast Mississippi will play Saturday in Ridgeland for slow-pitch softball state championships. Tuesday’s best-of-three series – featuring eight area teams – will determine which four.
Defending state champions Nettleton (3A) and Smithville (1A) are in the mix.
Nettleton plays its series at South Pontotoc while Smithville hosts West Union. Both series are scheduled for 5 p.m. starts.
In Class 4A, Houston hosts Corinth at 4:30. The Lady Hilltoppers won the state fast-pitch state title last spring.
In Class 2A, Baldwyn hosts Hamilton at 5 p.m.
South Pontotoc coach Adam Patterson, whose Lady Cougars swept Kossuth in Saturday’s quarterfinals, knows his team’s plate is full hosting Nettleton.
“They are the favorite to win 3A, if there is a favorite,” he said. “They have dominated this season.
“We’re going to play hard and we’re going to compete, but we’re going to need some breaks to beat them.”
Nettleton enters the semifinals 26-2 overall. The Lady Tigers’ losses were to Mantachie and Baldwyn.
In the 4A series, Corinth and Houston needed three games to win their quarterfinals series Saturday. The Warriors beat North Pontotoc while the Hilltoppers defeated New Albany.
“We’ve struggled hitting, but we’ve played great defense,” Houston coach Keith Jernigan said. “I understand Corinth is solid and they hit with a lot of power.”
The Lady Warriors are led by Stennett Smith, who was a Daily Journal All-Area fast-pitch selection last spring.
In the 1A series, Smithville returned seven starters off last season’s title team.
The Lady Seminoles swept Myrtle in the quarterfinals while West Union swept Jumpertown.
“We’ve played well the last week or so,” Smithville coach Jeremy Duke said. “I know West Union will be ready. They’re well-coached.
West Union coach Lisa Bogue likes her team’s attitude.
“I think we’re up to the challenge,” she said. “We’re excited to be still playing. A lot of good teams are at the house.”