By Gene Phelps
BALDWYN – Baldwyn’s Lady Bearcats had a few days to let last week’s Division 1-2A loss to Mantachie simmer in their souls.
The road loss to the Lady Mustangs snapped a 21-game winning streak.
It also made Tuesday’s rematch a battle for the division championship and a top-seeding headed into next week’s MHSAA slow pitch softball state playoffs.
Baldwyn responded in a big way, defeating visiting Mantachie 7-1 to capture the title and the No. 1 seed.
“They knew they had to play tonight,” Baldwyn coach Jessica Taylor said. “They’ve been preparing for this game after they walked off the field at Mantachie (a 5-2 defeat). They were a lot more focused tonight.”
Baldwyn (22-2, 7-1) will host Walnut next Tuesday in the first round best-of-three series. Mantachie (18-5, 5-3) will travel to East Union for its opening series in the postseason.
The Lady Bearcats got seven of their 11 hits from the bottom of its order. Haley Sandlin had a double while Shelby Blackwell and Paige Wood each had two singles.
“They were the spark that got us going,” Taylor said. “They came through for us.”
Blackwell, a senior outfielder, said the team has met two of its three goals this season. Two of those were to win the division and the Prentiss County Tournament. The third is to reach the state finals and win.
“We were really determined to come out here today and lay everything on the line,” she said. “This is our senior year.”
Baldwyn’s lineup features seven seniors and one reserve senior.
Baldwyn took a 4-0 lead in the second on three singles and with the help of four Mantachie errors.
“Our hitting has been up and down, but we usually play good defense,” Mantachie coach Kristi Montgomery said. “We couldn’t string any hits together tonight.”
The Lady Bearcats added insurance with a three-run fifth inning. Sandlin had an RBI double and Kali Nanney an RBI single. Sheneria Tyes plated the other with a sacrifice fly.
Anna Wagster’s sixth-inning sac fly produced Mantachie’s run.