By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
RIDGELAND – When Hayleigh Harper is confident, Enterprise-Clarke’s opponents should beware.
Harper, the Lady Bulldogs’ right-handed starting pitcher, recorded seven strikeouts and held East Webster scoreless for six innings Friday in Enterprise-Clarke’s 6-3 victory in Game 1 of the MHSAA Class 2A fast-pitch state championship series.
Game 2 is scheduled for 10 a.m. today at Freedom Ridge Park. Game 3, if necessary, would follow at a time to be determined.
“Everything was working today; I was feeling pretty confident,” Harper said. “My change-up was really on point. My fast ball and drop ball were working.”
The Lady Bulldogs (19-12) gave her just enough offensive support with 10 hits off East Webster’s Ballie Springfield.
“Harper’s good, you’ve got to battle her,” East Webster coach Lee Berryhill said.
Enterprise-Clarke took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Harper’s RBI single. The Bulldogs made it 4-0 in the second on a single by Lauren Smith and two-run double by Brittany Hagwood.
Berryhill believes the second inning was the killer.
“They put two or three hits together and had a bunt,” he said. “That opened it up for them. We tried to make a comeback.”
Enterprise-Clarke scored its final two runs in the third and fourth innings.
East Webster (20-7) scored three runs, all unearned, in the sixth inning. Jennah Pate and Katie Gordon had RBI singles and a run scored on one of the two errors the Lady Bulldogs committed in the inning.
“Maybe we got a little overconfident,” Harper said. “I think we felt like we had that six-run cushion, so we slacked up.”
Bailey Williams led East Webster with two singles. Delanney Davidson had three hits to pace Enterprise-Clark. Hagwood’s double in the second inning was the game’s lone extra-base hit.