By Brandon Speck
RIDGELAND – Next year is here for Blondie and her Lady Bearcats.
When Baldwyn lost in last season’s North finals, winning rival fans yelled, “Maybe next year, Blondie,” to Baldwyn head coach Jessica Taylor.
Next year arrived on Saturday when Baldwyn swept East Webster – both teams in their first title series – at Freedom Ridge Park, 8-4 and 6-1, to finish with a 31-2 record and win its first Class 2A slow pitch softball championship.
“They wanted it and they took it,” Taylor said. “They took it.”
The field’s 250-foot temporary fences are a stretch from mostof the fields teams play on all season. And Baldwyn had hit approximately 30 home runs.
“We didn’t play good at Mantachie on a big field, but we didn’t think home run. We thought line drive,” said Sheneria Tyes, one of eight seniors.
Baldwyn was content with bouncing ground-rule doubles over the short structure and using defense, ending both games on double plays. Baldwyn finished the series with 29 hits.
Baldwyn had been North 2A runner-up the last three seasons.
“The seniors have been together since T-ball,” senior Shelby Blackwell said. “The long haul has been great. We decided at the beginning of the year that we were going to do whatever it took to get here.”
Second baseman Paige Wood ended Game 1 on a double play, while shortstop Maggie Martin did the honors in Game 2.
“It was just a rush of excitement,” said senior Jorda Waters. “I loved it.”
Those same opposing fans last season would yell, “Barbie” at Taylor as well. A year later, Taylor and her Bearcats are calling themselves, “ State Champs.”
When Hamilton junior Hallie Dobbs’ RBI single drove in the winning run of a 10-0, five-inning mercy rule in Game 2 of the Class 1A state championship sweep of Stringer, the Lady Lions’ five seniors were thrilled.
But it was an eighth grader’s foot that clinched it for the back-to-back champions – they were Class 2A champions last season.
Taylor Brock came on to pinch run after Camryn Savage’s single with two outs in the fifth. Hailee Jones then singled and Dobbs’ bat ended the game with Taylor’s foot touching the plate.