From emergency room to home run queen for Houston's Laufenberg

By Daily Journal Reports

RIDGELAND – Jadie Laufenberg spent last Saturday in the emergency room. Today, she will try to help Houston’s Lady Toppers win a state championship in fastpitch softball.
Laufenberg, a senior reserve, suffered a head injury in a car accident, which happened as she was driving in the rain to the high school for a bus trip to Pontotoc for the team’s North state final.
“My car hydroplaned. I ran off the road and hit a telephone pole,” she said. “I wanted to leave the hospital and go to the game. The doctor wouldn’t let me.”
Laufenberg more than made up for her absence Friday in the Toppers’ 10-7 victory against Newton County in the opening game of the 4A championship series.
She belted two home runs – her only two this season – and also singled.
“We saved her for the big game,” Houston coach Keith Jernigan said, then winked. “She came out and played big time today. She was our surprise element.”
Laufenberg, who was the designated hitter, had batted only 31 times – with 12 hits – this season prior to Friday’s game.
“Playing her was a game-time decision,” Jernigan said. “She showed me a lot in practice this week. She proved to me she wanted to play.”
St. Patrick’s pitching staff – starter Sabrina Turner and reliever Ashlyn Williams – was the difference in Friday’s 6-3 victory over defending state champion Nettleton.
The Lady Tigers will have to figure them out today if they want to bring a fourth consecutive 3A state championship home.
“They did a good job, but it wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen all year,” Nettleton coach Dana Rhea said. “We played the pitcher’s count instead of the hitter’s count.
“We didn’t have a good approach at the plate. We swung at the bad ones and took the good ones.”
Turner (13-3) was the winner in the circle while Williams, a seventh grader, got the save. She struck out seven of the eight batters she faced.
“She looked like she was throwing 150 mph,” Rhea said of Williams. “She made us look bad.”
The Nettleton-St. Patrick game had a 10 a.m. start Friday because the Coast school had graduation at 5 p.m. … St. Patrick pitcher Ashlyn Williams says it’s good to have a 1-0 lead in a best-of-three series. “We have a little room to mess up,” she said. … Houston senior pitcher Haley Gravat won her 107th game in the circle. The left-hander has a career record of 107-23. … Smithville was 6-0 in the playoffs since the return of senior pitcher Meagan Whitehead from a broken right (pitching) hand. She suffered the injury April 3. … Hatley has never won a fastpitch state title, but the Lady Tigers have won four in slowpitch, the last in 2001.

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