By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – The Saltillo High softball senior players didn’t have much to be proud of during last Monday’s “Senior Night” game against Booneville.
On a night when the Saltillo senior players were honored, the Lady Tigers lost 13-6 at home.
On Thursday, however, the Saltillo seniors stepped up when it counted the most. The Lady Tigers swept their best-of-three MHSAA Class 5A first-round playoff series with West Point, winning 12-2 and 11-0 on their home field. Both games lasted only five innings due to the mercy rule.
“They did what seniors are supposed to do,” said Saltillo head coach Lee Buse. “They are supposed to carry you, especially when you get in the playoffs.”
Saltillo senior second baseman Ashley Dodson had a good evening – collecting two hits and two RBIs while scoring two runs – but the spotlight on Thursday clearly belonged to senior Lindsay Richardson.
When starting pitcher Hallie Frenn struggled with her control in the first inning of Game 1, it was Richardson who got Saltillo out of a bases-loaded jam and would then go on to shut out West Point the final nine innings of Thursday’s doubleheader. In both games combined, she only allowed three hits while striking out 12.
“If you keep getting behind in the count,” West Point head coach Libby Forrester said of her team that has only two seniors and no juniors, “you can’t do anything against a good pitcher.”
At the plate, Richardson went 4 for 7 with two triples, a double and an inside-the-park home run. She even scored three runs.
“She’s been a leader all year,” Buse said after his team improved to 18-8 on the year, “but tonight she really stepped up to the plate. She put us on her back tonight and carried us. And that’s what we gotta have.
“We gotta have that from now until the next three or four rounds that we go through. If we are going to be successful, our older kids have really got to do a good job, and they did tonight.”
The Lady Tigers advanced to face the winner of the Lake Cormorant-Pearl first-round series. Regardless of whom they play next, the Lady Tigers will host Game 1 next Thursday and play on the road next Saturday for the remainder of the best-of-three series.
Meanwhile, West Point ended the season at 5-13.