MANTACHIE – Just before midnight, as Tuesday night became Wednesday morning, the Mantachie High slow-pitch softball team finished off Hamilton in a MHSAA Class 2A state semifinals series.
The Lady Mustangs battled back from a 7-1 deficit through 21/2 innings to win the decisive Game 3, 9-7, and advance to Saturday’s Class 2A state championship series at VA Fields in Jackson.
The best-of-three state title series will start at 11 Saturday morning. Mantachie will face the winner of the Enterprise-Union series, which was also delayed and will be played at 5:30 p.m. today.
“This is unbelievable,amp” Mantachie coach Bryan Loague told the Itawamba County Times after Tuesday’s series-clinching win. “We played great in Game 1, got out hit in Game 2 and trailed in Game 3. But we never quit and got the job done.”
Tuesday’s best-of-three state semifinals series was set to begin at 5 p.m. with Game 1, but due to heavy winds and rain, the first game didn’t get underway until an hour and 45 minutes later.
Not to mention, Game 1 went down to the wire, with Mantachie’s Regan McFerrin singling in Bailey Dickinson with the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh.
Hoping to ride the momentum of their 5-4 series-opening victory, the Lady Mustangs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning of Game 2.
However, Hamilton took advantage of seven Mantachie errors and go on to win 16-8 to force a winner-take-all Game 3 that would start after 10 Tuesday night.
In the final game, Allissa Patterson – who had an RBI sacrifice fly earlier in Game 3 – came through with a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the sixth to break a 7-7 tie. Hamilton went 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh to end the game.
Saturday’s trip to Jackson is the Lady Mustangs’ first state championship series appearance since 2006 when they lost to Clarkdale.
Lee Adams of the Itawamba County Times contributed to this story.
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal