By Brandon Speck
RIDGELAND – Houston is still looking for its first hit of the state championship series. Not a good sign after the first game.
Two Newton County pitchers combined on a perfect game in a 16-0, five-inning win against the Lady Hilltoppers in the opener of the MHSAA Class 4A state championship.
Game 2 is scheduled for noon today.
“They hit it well. We didn’t play our type of ball,” Houston coach Jeffrey Mann said.
Newton County played all the ball, plating 10 runs in the first inning after sending 14 batters to the plate. The first two came on a bomb from junior Ashton Lampton. Savannah Gates, Darby Bishop and Cassidy Blount each had two-run doubles. Bishop had three of Newton County’s 16 hits, a homer shy of a cycle.
Houston (25-8) went to the plate and went back to the dugout against starter Bishop (20-0) and Dalmericka King. The Lady Toppers were on their second pitcher eight batters into the game, replacing 17-game winner Taylor Lancaster (17-3) with sophomore Madeline Burdine, who inherited a 5-0 deficit.
“We’ve still got to go win the last game. That’s our motto,” said Newton County coach Justin Chaney.
The Lady Cougars (33-4) have won seven championships since 2000 and two of the last three. The teams are meeting for the third straight season. Houston won the 2012 title.
“We don’t have that dominating pitcher in the circle. We do have to come out and hit,” Mann said. “We’ve been scorring 10 runs a game. When you don’t even get a hit, you’re not ever going to come out good.”
Even when it looked like a hit, Newton County center fielder Shelby Barrett ran through the temporary fence to make a catch and Chelsea Robinson was robbed when Lampton made an over-the-shoulder catch at short. It went all Newton County’s way. Bishop singled in the fourth and was run down at first as she allowed Latesia Davis to scored a 15th run.