Hester hurls Nettleton to 3A finals

NETTLETON – Familiarity with Michele Hester’s pitching in Thursday’s game was no advantage for Booneville on Saturday.
Hester (17-0) entered the series with a 0.64 ERA and pitched seven innings of two-hit ball Saturday to help the Nettleton Lady Tigers win 6-0 in Game 2 of the state Class 3A semifinal series.
“I can’t say enough about what Michele has been able to do this season; the numbers speak for themselves,” said Nettleton coach Chris Kidd. “She comes in every day and throws well. That gives us the opportunity to play good defense behind her and everything kind of falls together from there.”
Jessica Patterson broke open the game with a two-run single in the first and Heather Noe tacked on another run with an RBI single in the second as the defending champion Lady Tigers (22-2) cruised to their third-straight Class 3A championship series appearance.
Hester helped her own cause when she drove in Makenzie Hawkins on a single to right in the fifth. Hawkins returned the favor with a two-run triple in the sixth.
The Lady Tigers’ bats cooled off from Game 1, but they played error-free ball and made the plays when they needed them the most.
Casey Davis singled for one of two hits for Booneville (21-11-1), but Noe – the all-star catcher – gunned her out dead-to-rights on an attempt to steal second.
“We didn’t hit the ball well today, but one of our main stays is playing good defense,” Kidd said. “The girls did a good job of not panicking when we weren’t getting the hits and played solid defense again.”
For Booneville, Madison Davis (5-4) struck out eight batters in 61/3 of work while giving up three earned runs on four hits and two errors.
The Lady Tigers will take on the winner between Raleigh and Clarkdale for the Class 3A title next weekend in Ridgeland.
Clarkdale led the series 1-0 after an 11-5 victory on Thursday but Saturday’s Game 2 was suspended by rain and will pick up Monday in the bottom of the second inning.
The time for Game 1 of the championship series is yet to be announced due to Nettleton’s graduation on Friday.

Adam Gore/Special to the Journal