By Melissa Meador
RIDGELAND – Amory had relied on solid defense the entire slow pitch softball season.
One of their strengths turned into a weakness on Saturday as Newton County capitalized on eight Lady Panther miscues in a 12-8, 8-0 sweep to win the Class 4A championship.
“We didn’t play Lady Panther defense in either game,” Amory coach Chris Pace said. “We got down in the first game and were pressing. These three seniors (Bailey Oswalt, Bailey Boyd and Josie Booth) had a lot riding on them, and they were trying to carry the load.”
Amory (29-7) put up four in the first inning of the first game, which included a two-run double from Booth.
Oswalt’s two-run homer to left center gave the Lady Panthers a 6-5 lead after two, but Newton County capitalized on three errors to score five and take the lead for good in the fifth.
Oswalt and Erin Griffith each went 3 for 4 while Alex Stevens had a pair of RBI singles in the first game.
In Game 2, Oswalt led off and appeared to score on a fly ball from Aynslee Willis, but the run was called back for leaving third too early. Newton County took control after that with three-run third and fifth innings.
“Taking away that run killed it for us,” Oswalt said.
Willis had a leadoff double in the fourth and was stranded, but finished with a pair of hits along with Boyd.
It was the Lady Panthers’ first appearance in the state finals since winning it all in 1999.
“Being here is definitely big,” Booth said. “It gives us a great memory to look back on in our senior year.”