By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
BALDWYN – A determined, young Baldwyn team won its Class 2A state fastpitch playoffs opener on Friday.
Behind the pitching of sophomore right-hander Savannah Alexander, the Lady Bearcats defeated visiting Riverside 9-1 in first game of their best-of-three play-in series.
“This game was one of my best this season,” said Alexander, who recorded six strikeouts and gave up only two hits in seven innings. “I threw my change-up, another off-speed pitch and my fastball.”
Alexander (9-6), with help from her defense, faced the minimum 18 batters through six innings. Rainer Hodges reached on a bunt single in the fifth for the visitors, but was thrown out at third attempting a steal.
Riverside scored its lone run in the seventh on a ground ball by Hodges.
“(Alexander) has been very good in the circle for us,” Baldwyn coach Jessica Taylor said.
Baldwyn (15-12), which starts six sophomores and three freshmen, travels to Riverside (13-8) today for Game 2 at 3 p.m. Game 3 would follow, if necessary.
“We’re confident we can go over there and take one game,” Taylor said.
Riverside coach Stephen Atkins, whose team played without two of its starters, believes his team can manage a sweep today in the Delta.
“If I can get my girls back, we’ve got a shot,” he said. “If my pitcher continues to pitch like she’s pitching, I think we have a pretty good chance.”
Mollie Simpson, an eighth grader, struck out seven, walked five and scattered seven hits in the circle for Riverside.
Baldwyn, leading 1-0, after two innings, broke open the game with a six-run third inning.
Samantha Phillips’ three-run single to right field was the Lady Bearcats’ big blow in the inning. Paige Wood also contributed an RBI single to center for Baldwyn.
“We finally got some timely hits in that inning,” Taylor said. “Their pitcher had different speed and movement. When we did adjust, we had that big inning.”
Leading 7-0, the Lady Bearcats padded their lead on a two-run triple by Haley Sandlin in the sixth.
Maggie Martin and Phillips led Baldwyn with two hits each.