RIDGELAND – North Pike has survived on clutch hitting in the postseason. Friday was no different.
The Lady Jaguars put together three hits and scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning to rally and defeat North Pontotoc 7-6 in the MHSAA Class 4A best-of-three state fastpitch softball finals at Freedom Ridge Park.
“This is a group of girls who’ll fight to stay in a game,” said North Pike coach Sonya Wallace, who watched her team rally from a huge deficit earlier this week to beat Newton County in the state semifinals. “We got the clutch hits when we needed them.”
North Pike (20-14) and North Pontotoc (32-3) play Game 2 at noon today. If the Lady Vikings win to even the series, a Game 3 will immediately follow.
A frustrated Lady Vikings coach Shane Montgomery saluted North Pike’s sticks for producing. The Jaguars’ bats produced five hits and three runs in the final two innings.
“They got the key hits and we didn’t,” he said. “Their hitters came through in the clutch.”
North Pike jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning off North Pontotoc starter Meggin Nelson. Three of the runs crossed on a double by Breanna McKenzie.
Nelson retired the Jags in order in the second, third and fourth. Her defense turned double plays in the third and fourth.
North Pontotoc rallied for three runs in the second, two on Taylor Coker’s double. The Lady Vikings added two more in the third, with the help of three North Pike errors, to take a 5-4 lead.
In the fifth, Danyel Raby reached base on an error and later scored on a ground out to give North Pontotoc a 6-4 advantage.
“When we were up 6-4 we had a chance to get more and we didn’t,” Montgomery said. “We gave them way too many outs. We made too many bone-head plays running the bases.
“We didn’t do what we had to do to win.”
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal