Fourth straight state title … and a last hurrah?

RIDGELAND – East Webster coach Bill Brand said earlier in the week that despite winning three consecutive MHSAA fastpitch championships, losing this weekend’s opportunity for a fourth straight would leave a bad taste for his seniors.
Senior pitcher Jessica Halterman (24-6) made sure that didn’t happen on Saturday, leading her team to an 8-2 win and a sweep of Smithville in the 2009 Class 1A series at Freedom Ridge Park in Ridgeland.
East Webster beat the Lady Seminoles for the second straight season after beating Hamilton for the 2A title in 2007.
“It’s an honor to win this last one with the people I’ve been playing with all my life,” Halterman said. “We have a real tight friendship. We’re inseparable.”
The Lady Wolverines (26-7), 8-5 winners in Friday’s Game 1 of the best-of-three series, took advantage of an early Smithville mistake to jump ahead 5-1 in the second inning. A throwing error on a bunt attempt led to two runs.
Senior Caitlyn Williamson’s two-out RBI single made it 3-1. Jordan Sisk, also a senior, scored on another Smithville error and Cayley McClellan scored on a wild pitch.
“We knew coming into this that we were going to have to play errorless ball,” said Smith-ville coach Jeremy Duke. “I felt like we could get to Halterman eventually. You just can’t make mistakes on a team like that. They’re just too good.”
Smithville (26-4) had taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Courtney Phillips’ sacrifice fly to score Jordan Northington.
East Webster, which lost five seniors, pushed its lead to 8-1 on Williamson’s three-run home run in the fifth.
“No matter what had happened this weekend, we had accomplished a lot winning three state championships,” Brand said. “You just hoped they got to go out on top like they deserved, and they did.”
Kami Roberts took the loss for Smithville, which rotated Roberts and senior Lynndon Northington, one of four Smithville seniors.
‘An unbelievable season’
“It’s been an unbelievable season. We knew coming into this that we had a monster waiting on us,” Duke said. “They’ve won three in a row. You can’t help but know you’ve got to play error-free.”
The game may have been the last for Halterman, who will be going for another state title here next week in tennis.
“I got offered to play tennis at Meridian (Community College), so I might be going there,” she said. “I don’t know yet.”

 

Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal