By Gene Phelps
Josh Blythe’s having a blast watching his East Union team bash the softball around this season.
In Tuesday’s MHSAA Class 2A first-round best-of-three playoff series win against Mantachie, the Lady Urchins belted 58 total hits in three games and hit five home runs in a 22-8 first-game victory.
“It’s been fun to watch them play. We’ve hit the ball exceptionally well at times,” he said. “We had 23 hits in the first game and 25 in the third game.
“You can’t explain stuff like that. It’s one of those things. They’re swinging the bat.”
East Union (22-7) returns to action at 1 p.m. today when it hosts Riverside (20-4) in a second-round, one-day best-of-three series. The winner advances to next week’s North state finals/state semifinals.
The Lady Urchins were eliminated the last two seasons by Hamilton in the second round. The defending 2A state champion Lady Lions have moved down to 1A where they are contenders again this season.
“I’m happy we don’t play them anymore,” Blythe said, then laughed.
East Union’s lineup features a balance of youth and experience. The team’s middle infielders – shortstop Rebecca Sheffield, second baseman Kallie Roberts and third baseman Callie Frazier – are all freshmen. First baseman and pitcher Sallie Pannell is also a ninth grader. The team’s catcher is eighth grader Claudia Hill.
Sheffield hit two homers in the series win against Mantachie.
“I’ll take experience over age any day,” Blythe said. “These young girls have been there (the playoffs) three years in a row. They play softball non-stop throughout the summer.”
East Union also has senior experience in pitcher Mallory Roberts and outfielders Savannah Alexander, Katey Hunt and Stephanie Hardy.
Hamilton, last year’s 2A champion, plays at West Union in the second round of today’s 1A bracket. Another all-area matchup features defending 1A state champion Smithville hosting Pine Grove.
In another 2A game, Baldwyn hosts Leland while in 3A Mooreville’s at Independence and Nettleton’s takes its power game to North Pontotoc.
Amory plays at Caledonia and Corinth hosts Kosciusko in 4A.