By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
ENTERPRISE – Dani Taylor knew she was going to pitch Friday against defending 4A state champion North Pontotoc, so she took advantage of an opportunity to scout the Lady Vikings Thursday night.
What Taylor saw on her scouting adventure to the game at Itawamba AHS was North Pontotoc ripping the fluorescent-yellow hide off the softball – 13 hits in a 15-5 win.
“They were hitting good pitches,” she said. “I was nervous after watching them.”
West Union’s senior right-hander did notice, however, that the Lady Vikings had trouble with pitches inside. “I made sure I threw inside today,” she said. “That was the key.”
North Pontotoc (17-1) collected only eight hits off Taylor and stranded eight base runners, but managed to escape the Lady Eagles’ home field with a 3-1 victory.
The narrow loss was a win of sorts for West Union (8-6), a Class 1A school.
“Yes, it was a loss,” West Union coach Lisa Bogue said. “But, for us and our confidence, it was a win. We lost a 3-1 game to the defending 4A state champions.”
Bogue was impressed with Taylor’s effort in the circle. She didn’t record a strikeout, but she worked her way out of jams in three innings.
“She’s not overpowering,” Bogue said. “She’s smart, keeps her composure. She’s able to hit spots and get out of trouble with fly balls and ground balls.”
North Pontotoc coach Shane Montgomery was pleased with his team’s effort and also praised the play of West Union.
“We were fortunate in the first inning to knock one (run) in,” he said. “You can’t leave runners on base in scoring position. We’ve been getting those in, but credit (Taylor).
“West Union’s a good club, especially when she pitches.”
North Pontotoc scored in the first inning on Brittany Seale’s single to left. The sophomore catcher led the Vikings with three hits, including a double.
The Vikings’ leadoff batter, outfielder Kaitlin Robertson, and outfielder Lauren Rodgers added two singles apiece.
North Pontotoc scored it lone run in the fourth when Taylor singled and scored on G.B. Conlee’s infield single.
The Vikings were leading 3-0 at the time after scoring two runs in the third on a bases-loaded walk and a passed ball.
North Pontotoc pitcher Brianna Gable (10-1) pitched six strong innings, striking out nine, before giving way to reliever Chandler Gates, who earned a save in the seventh. The Eagles managed five hits off Gable, all singles.
“Brianna’s arm was hurting a little and we didn’t want to take a chance,” Montgomery said. “She needed that outing today. It gave her some confidence.”