By Melissa Meador/Monroe Journal
RIDGELAND – Nettleton struck first in the second game of the Class 3A fast-pitch state championship series but St. Patrick picked up where it left off on Friday, pounding out 20 hits for a 15-6 win to repeat as champions.
“I really liked the way we came out today and played harder. We just didn’t make the plays on defense,” Nettleton coach Dana Rhea said. “That’s what we’ve been good at all season long, so for that to fail you today is a little hard to swallow.”
The Lady Tigers (24-9) got off to a promising start with a two-run first inning off an RBI single from Kaleigh Tackett and an RBI double from Anna Kent.
St. Patrick (31-3) sent eight to the plate in its three-run bottom half of the inning, however, and batted around in a six-run second inning.
Molly Bramlett led off the third with one of her three base hits for Nettleton. Lauren Baldwyn followed her with a walk before Tackett’s three-run shot to left closed the gap to 9-5.
The Lady Irish padded their lead in the bottom of the inning with RBI singles from Ashlyn Williams and Victoria Tyler, who combined for six hits.
Brittany Adams, who singled with one out, added another run for Nettleton, scoring when Baldwyn reached on a throw that pulled Tyler off first base.
St. Patrick tacked on another run in the fourth and two in the fifth. Nettleton left the bases loaded in the sixth after singles from Adams and Bramlett and Shay Alvarez reaching on an error, and Emma Castenado’s solo shot off MariAnna Young (14-6) put the Lady Irish up 15-6 after six.
This marks the third straight year the two have met in the 3A state championship with St. Patrick’s 2012 title breaking up a streak of three straight for Nettleton.
“We’ve overcome a lot this year with MariAnna (Young) going down with her ACL and just replacing two seniors from last year,” Rhea said.
“The girls have done a great job battling through it.”