By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
MOOREVILLE – To some people, there’s something magical about Elvis Presley. Just ask the Kossuth High slow-pitch softball team.
Ahead of schedule for Saturday’s MHSAA quarterfinals series at Mooreville, the Lady Aggies stopped at the King of Rock & Roll’s birthplace in Tupelo.
That stop seemed to create a good vibe for the Lady Aggies, as they outlasted the Lady Troopers in three games to advance to Tuesday’s state semifinals, where they’ll face the winner of Saturday’s South Pontotoc-Nettleton series.
“Elvis is still working his magic,” said coach Steve Lyles, minutes after his team thumped the Lady Troopers, 15-5, in Game 3. “I tell you what, they’re all Elvis fans now.”
The Lady Aggies won Game 1, 8-2, behind the pitching of Eryn Coleman and a four-RBI performance by Jordan Dickson, who hit a two-run bomb to left as part of a four-run third inning.
Kristen Devers also smashed a two-run shot in the fifth, as her bat began to heat up. The Lady Aggies leadoff hitter went 4 for 4 with a grand slam, five RBIs and three runs scored in the series-clinching Game 3 win.
Dickson and Devers weren’t the only two mashing away at the plate. In Game 3, the Lady Aggies strung together six consecutive hits in a six-run fourth inning and, after two groundouts the very next inning, six of their next seven hitters recorded base hits.
“I can’t ask these kids to hit any better than what we hit for two games. It’s just unbelievable,” Lyles said. “They’re doing what they’re supposed to be: hitting line drives.
“What about the home runs? My gosh, they were just hitting bombs. It’s fun. It’s like watching Barry Bonds hit.”
After the Troopers belted 24 hits in Game 2, Lyles decided to go with a rookie pitcher on the varsity. Lainna Mullins took the ball in Game 3 and held the Lady Troopers to just two runs through four innings.
“I had confidence in her because she arches the ball and has a lot more arch than Eryn (Coleman),” Lyles said. “I just rolled the dice and went with it. I just had a feeling. Thank God it worked out.
“Sometimes you get lucky.”
Analyse Long led the Lady Troopers with seven hits on the day, while Betsy Kingsley had six, three hits apiece in Games 2 and 3.
“They hit, we didn’t,” said Lady Troopers coach Perry Wilburn. “That’s about it. … All day long, we only hit well for three or four innings.
“If we can get started we hit well, but we never could get started today. It seemed like everything they (Kossuth) hit found a hole and everything we hit was right at them.
“They were just better than us today.”