2A SOFTBALL: Hamilton’s hot hitters master big field

JACKSON – Hamilton entered the 2009 season as Class 2A’s defending North champion. The Lady Lions ended the season as the MHSAA Class 2A state champion.
At VA Fields, Hamilton continued its hot hitting in a sweep of stunned Enterprise, winning 13-4 and 15-2.
“There’s nothing like it. I’ve told the girls several times it’s a feeling you’ll never forget,” said Hamilton coach Lewis Earnest. “Those nine losses don’t mean one thing right now, just the last two wins. That’s all that counts.”
The Lady Lions finish the season at 19-9, winners of 13 straight games with a nearly 20-hit per game average during the run.
Game 1 started the same way the previous 11 had gone. With an early 3-0 deficit, Hamilton bounced back in the third inning and cut the lead to 3-2 on Lexus Jordan’s RBI single. Emily Earnest’s single loaded the bases for Alison Atkins, whose sac fly tied the game.
Anna Imel’s RBI single, Caitlyn Atkins’ RBI groundout, Chauncia Willis’ double and Hannah Howell’s triple put Hamilton ahead 7-3.
It was a new way to win for Hamilton, which connected for 11 total home runs in playoff sweeps of East Union and Baldwyn, both at home. Fences at VA are 300 feet from the plate.
“The big field today worried me,” Earnest said. “I was afraid it would take away from the long ball, doubles and triples, but they still hit it over their heads. We would have probably had several home runs if we were playing on a normal field.”
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Shelby Savage and Lyndsey Williams added RBI singles for an 11-4 lead and Katie Beth Dahlem plated two on a triple for a 13-4 margin.
Enterprise, which entered the title series with only two losses, saw a different team than the one that lost six straight games at midseason and averaged only two runs per game during the streak.
“We pulled together and just started hitting the ball,” Dahlem said of her team’s effort in getting past the losing streak. “We started wanting it more, practiced more and worked harder. We’re more disciplined now than we were when we were losing.”
The bats stayed hot in Game 2’s five-inning win, as Hamilton jumped out to an 8-0 lead with a six-run second inning. It added five runs in the third and two more in the fifth.
Howell and Savage had two RBIs each in the second inning. Williams and Atkins added RBIs.
“I just can’t say enough about the way they hit. They pounded the ball,” Earnest said.
The title is Hamilton’s first since 2004. The Lady Lions lost a sweep against Clarkdale here last season.

Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal