By Melissa Meador/Monroe Journal
NETTLETON – Nettleton coach Dana Rhea knows his team is heating up at the plate just the right time.
The defending state champs blasted 42 hits in two games to sweep Winona on Tuesday in the first round of the Class 3A slow-pitch softball playoffs with wins of 18-0 and 13-3.
“It was just an awesome night. We’ve been hoping for this all season long,” Rhea said. “We wanted to be playing our best at this time, and I think tonight we had our best offensive night in a while. I’m excited about that, and we hope it lasts.”
Big innings for the Lady Tigers (23-2) highlighted both games. In the first game, Nettleton would score nine in the bottom of the second, sending 13 batters to the plate. Brittany Adams blasted her first two-run homer of the game, with another long ball coming in the sixth. Kaleigh Tackett, who collected six hits and four home runs in the two games, also hit a two-run triple in the inning, while Lauren Baldwyn and Molly Bramlett added RBI singles.
Only up 7-3 in the second game, the top of the fourth was the turning point for Nettleton, who plated five in the inning. Jabria Pounds led off with a double, and Kaleigh Tackett launched her second home run of the game. Lauren Baldwyn followed with a single, and pitcher Anna Kent, who went 4 for 4 in Game 2, hit a two-run shot.
Winona’s three runs came in the bottom of the second, courtesy of Lakin Ables’ three-run home run.
“We missed some opportunities early and late to score in the second game,” Rhea said. “They came in and did a good job and took a few hits from us.”
Nettleton will host Booneville, who swept Leland in the first round, in the quarterfinals at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“They’re a good team, and we know we’re going to have to hit against them,” Rhea said. “We have great junior and senior leadership on this team, and they’ve really starting jelling together better.”