By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Coach of the Year: AdamPatterson, South Pontotoc
South Pontotoc’s 9-7 win against Eupora the final week of the regular season made head coach Adam Patterson a believer.
He saw a lot more than victory No. 17 for the Lady Cougars. He saw a team that could make some noise in the postseason … a lot of noise.
“I figured we had a good chance to make it when we went to Eupora the last week of the season and won,” said Patterson, the 2012 Daily Journal All-Area Slow-Pitch Coach of the Year. “Our seniors picked it up. Then we got by Mantachie in the first round. After we got past them, we were thinking, ‘Four more wins and we could make it.’’’
Three coaches who won state titles this season – Smithville’s Jeremy Duke, Hamilton’s Lewis Earnest and Corinth’s Janna LaBarreare – were also considered for the award.
Patterson and his Lady Cougars did “make it” to the MHSAA Class 3A state championships series after sweeping Kossuth and defending state champion Nettleton. The 1-0 and 5-4 wins against the Lady Tigers sent a few shockwaves through the Northeast Mississippi softball community.
‘Exciting and fun’
“We got some breaks against Nettleton, but we made a lot of good plays, too,” Patterson said. “It was the most exciting and fun series we’ve played in my seven years here.
“It was good for our seniors (CC Costilow, Kaitlyn Cox, Lindsy Jaggers and Brianna Kitchens).”
South Pontotoc lost in three games to Southeast Lauderdale in the state championship series, one that saw the teams combine for 70 runs and 109 hits.
“We hit better than we have all year,” Patterson said. “I thought our team played hard. Southeast Lauderdale always had an answer. Both teams played really well. They just scored more runs.”
Patterson credited his players and his assistants, Barry Mathews and Greg Denton, for the team’s successful season.
“When you look back, this may be one of the best teams to come through South Pontotoc,” he said. “We have nothing to be disappointed about, other than not winning (state).”
North Pontotoc coach Shane Montgomery says South Pontotoc’s lucky to have Patterson leading its program.
“They’re not going to find a coach or staff that works any harder,” Montgomery said. “Adam’s a man with great character and drive. He’d do anything he could for the kids.”