By Melissa Meador/Monroe Journal
VARDAMAN – Getting there wasn’t pretty, but Smithville sealed a trip to Jackson for the second time this year.
Two RBI singles for the Lady Seminoles (21-9) in the top of the seventh inning broke a tie with Division 1-4A rival Vardaman and gave Smithville a 3-2 victory and their first Class 1A North fastpitch softball championship in two years.
The Lady Seminoles, who won the 1A state slowpitch championship in the fall, will play South champion Nanih Waiya on Friday in the first game of the MHSAA state championship series.
“It was a very, very intense game,” Smithville coach Jeremy Duke said. “We just beat a really good team, and they’ve only gotten better as the season has went on. Their pitcher battled all the way through to the end, and we were just able to push across a couple of runs. We needed a game like that coming out of this series and going into the state championship.”
Smithville pushed across their first run in the top of the second when Claire McNeese singled, stole two bases and came home on Angel Guyton’s RBI single.
Vardaman tied it in the bottom of the third when Kaylee Haire drew a walk to lead off and came home to score when catcher Breanna Edgeworth’s throw to second on her steal attempt sailed into the outfield.
Kyla Ford’s RBI single to send Guyton home broke up the tie in the seventh, and leadoff hitter Lane Kennedy followed her up with a single of her own.
Vardaman started off the inning with a double from Grace Edmondson, who came around to score on Laken Lucius’ single, but Meagan Whitehead finished off the win retiring the final two Lady Rams.
“I knew I had to do whatever it took to help us win,” said Whitehead, one of two seniors on the team, with tears in her eyes. “I knew that if I didn’t stay up, nobody else really would, so I worked my hardest, tried to hit my spots and get us out of the inning. I’m so proud of my team for working as hard as they have.”