Corinth softball back in title hunt after sluggish start

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

CORINTH – Corinth reached the state finals in slowpitch softball last fall, so expectations were high when the Lady Warriors opened fastpitch play this spring.
“We got a taste of Jackson,” said senior catcher Erin Frazier. “We wanted to go back … and win.”
Instead, the Lady Warriors started the season with a burp, losing five consecutive games.
“We played some good teams and our lineup changed a lot during that time,” Corinth coach Janna Labarreare said. “Erin Frazier and (pitcher) Stennett Smith were just coming off playing basketball.”
The Lady Warriors rebounded from that 0-5 start and find themselves on the road to Jackson with a 22-7 record and playing in a Class 4A state quarterfinals best-of-three series this week against Houston (28-1).
The series opener is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday in Corinth. The second game, and third if necessary, will be played Saturday in Houston, starting at 2.
Smith, a junior who has posted a 16-6 record in the circle, including last week’s second-round sweep of North Pontotoc, believes the team’s turnaround can be attributed to contributions from every player.
“Everybody’s playing well, at the same time,” she said. “Everybody’s hitting, too.”
Frazier, a four-sports standout who recently signed to play volleyball for Wallace (Ala.) State Community College, agrees with her battery mate.
“It’s not just one or two people,” she said. “It’s the whole team. We’ve got good chemistry.”
Corinth’s starting lineup features one senior, four juniors, three freshmen, an eighth grader and a seventh grader.
“We’ve got the experience to go with the youth,” Labarreare said. “Frazier and Smith draw a lot of attention. The other girls have stepped up and made plays.”
The team’s 7-1 and 13-3 wins against North Pontotoc, the 2011 North half champion and 2010 state champion, were confidence builders.
“We didn’t feel like we got a good draw when we got North Pontotoc,” Labarreare said. “We knew we were up against a challenge. I’m proud if the way they stepped up and played.
“We’re not just winning now, we’re winning confidently.”
North Pontotoc coach Shane Montgomery says it should be “one heckuva series” between Corinth and Houston.
“Nothing against Pontotoc or Tishomingo County, but these are the two best teams in the North,” he said. “It’s going to come down to who makes plays. It’s going to be very interesting.”
gene.phelps@journalinc.com