Houston-New Albany: 8th grader pitches in, gets big hit

By Blake Long/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal

NEW ALBANY – New Albany coach Shane Sanderson knew 12 runs wouldn’t be enough to put away Houston in Game 2 of the opening series in the Class 4A slow-pitch softball playoffs. In the end, he was right.
Down 12-3 entering the bottom half of the fourth, Houston scored 10 unanswered runs over the next three innings to down the Lady Bulldogs 13-12, claiming a sweep of the series after their 10-4 Game 1 victory.
“I wanted to put them away early (in the second game),” said Sanderson. “Houston wanted it and our girls didn’t respond.”
After entering their half of the sixth trailing by three runs, Houston’s Blakely Wright’s 2-RBI double tied the game at 12. However, it was an eighth-grader that would deliver the game-winning hit a batter later.
Madeline Burdine beat out a ball hit to shortstop Kayla Pavlick after the ball took a bad hop, allowing Zamia Mason to score from third to give Houston their first lead at 13-12.
“I was just thinking I could win the game with a base hit,” Burdine, who also got both wins on the mound, said of her thoughts before her final at bat.
Burdine would allow a single to Shannon Goode in the top of the seventh, but nothing further as the Lady Hilltoppers (21-9) advance to Corinth for the state quarterfinals on Saturday.
‘Full of heart’
“The girls got down a few runs but they just kept playing,” Houston coach Keith Jernigan said. “This team is just full of heart and really wants to play.”
Amber Mirfield’s two-RBI double capped a five-run fourth for New Albany that put them up 12-3. The Lady Bulldogs (13-17) also began the game with a five-run first.
Josie Anderson’s three-run home run in the bottom of the fourth provided the spark the Lady Hilltoppers needed to begin their comeback.
Burdine’s two-RBI double in the first inning set the tone for Houston’s opening-game victory. On the day, the pitcher went 5 for 8 with 5 RBIs.