Lady Panthers awaken sleeping giant

NEWTON – It all came down to the third game in the quarterfinals of the 2009 MHSAA Class 4A state slow-pitch playoffs.
After Amory’s 5-1 Game 1 win against Newton County, the Lady Cougars responded with 13 runs in the second inning of Game 2 in an 18-1 win to even the best-of-three series. In Game 3, Newton County ended Amory’s season with a 14-1 win on Catherine Brand’s walk-off grand slam.
“We came out and jumped on them,” said Amory coach Chris Pace. “We hit the ball better in these three games than we have in a while. We didn’t catch any breaks.”
In the finale, Newton County (19-6) picked up where it left off, scoring four second-inning runs to take a 7-1 lead after Amory had pulled to within 3-1 on Bailey Oswalt’s RBI single. Courtlyn McCollum and Ashley Camp singled to set up the Lady Panthers’ lone run.
Moved to neutral Esco Park because of Newton County’s soaked home field, Amory won Game 1 5-1. The Lady Panthers took an early 2-0 lead on first-inning RBI singles from Camp and Oswalt.
Amory (16-10) went ahead 4-0 in the second on Paige Earnest’s two-run triple.
Oswalt’s one-out RBI single in the third scored McCollum for a 5-1 lead.
Newton County will now face West Lauderdale in the state semifinals.
“They’re a good ball team,” Pace said. “I don’t know how they came out (of division) No. 2.”
Newton combined for 36 hits in the final two games, after managing just five in the opener. Amory had 27 hits, 11 in the win.
“I thought Amory came out and set the tone,” Newton County coach Justin Chaney said. “They were ready to play and we weren’t, but slow-pitch softball comes down to one thing, hitting, and it’s contagious.”

Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal