By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
ECRU – Brianna Gable’s elbow is fine.
North Pontotoc’s senior right-handed pitcher proved that fact Friday when she pitched 31⁄3 innings of one-hit relief and recorded six strikeouts in the Lady Vikings’ 4-3 extra-inning Class 4A state playoffs win against Lafayette.
“Brianna looked like Brianna,” North Pontotoc coach Shane Montgomery said. “She was throwing without pain.”
Gable (11-2), who relieved starter Chandler Gates in the fifth inning, captured the win in the circle when No. 9 hitter Lauren Rodgers drove in the game-winning run in the eighth with a bloop single to shallow right field.
Gable had missed more than a month pitching because of an inflamed elbow.
“It felt good to be myself again on the mound,” she said. “It felt like the beginning of the season. I was fired up and ready to get back out there.”
The second game of the fast-pitch softball best-of-three series is scheduled for 2 p.m. today at Lafayette. A third game, if necessary, would follow.
Rodgers’ two-out hit clinched a comeback win for the Lady Vikings (23-3), who are the defending state champions.
“All I was thinking about was getting a base hit and getting the runner (Gable) home,” she said. “It was a blooper, but it was better than nothing.”
Gable reached base earlier in the inning on a single.
North Pontotoc trailed Lafayette 3-1 going into the bottom of the seventh. Courtney Quillian kept the Vikings alive with a two-run, two-out triple to the gap in right-center to tie the score.
“It was about time,” said Quillian, who 1 for 4. “I hadn’t hit the whole game, but I had confidence I could do it.
“I thought their pitcher (Kelsey Kesler) did a great job. “She was wearing the outside corner out on me. We all had to make adjustments.”
Prior to the seventh, Montgomery saw his club strand six base runners.
Lafayette (11-7) took a 2-0 lead in the third on a two-run single by Cameron Mize. The Lady Commodores added a run in the fifth on a throwing error by Vikings catcher Brittany Seale.