By Gene Phelps
SPRINGVILLE – CeeCee Austin’s return home was a triumphant one Thursday night.
The rookie North Pontotoc slow pitch softball coach directed her Lady Vikings to an 11-5 Division 2-3A victory against her alma mater – South Pontotoc – and to a berth in the upcoming postseason.
“It makes it a little sweeter,” said Austin, a 2008 South Pontotoc graduate, moments after celebrating with her team. “They knew how important it was to me. It feels great.”
North Pontotoc (13-10, 5-1 division) needed only to win to reach the playoffs, which begin next Tuesday with a best-of-three series in all classifications. South Pontotoc (13-12, 3-3) had to defeat the Lady Vikings by at least three runs to reach the postseason.
The loss eliminated Adam Patterson’s team from playoff contention. His Lady Cougars, who have one remaining regular-season game to play, have lost six of their last eight games.
“We hit a lull at the wrong time of the year,” Patterson said.
North Pontotoc answered the opening bell with a loud bang in the first inning when it scored four runs off a single by Tia Davis and doubles by Kaitlin Robertson, Katie Denton and Kelsey Robertson.
“Our girls came out firing,” Austin said.
Kelsey Robertson’s fielder’s choice ground ball gave the Vikings a 5-0 lead in the third.
South Pontotoc, which left 10 runners on base, answered to make it 5-2 on singles by Eden Bowen and Johnaia Kendrick, a double by Katelyn Ferguson, and a sacrifice fly by Lacey Higgins.
Katelyn Matthews had an RBI single and Lindsey Coffey an RBI sac fly for North Pontotoc in the fourth to give the Vikings a 7-2 advantage.
Denton belted a solo homer in the fifth for North Pontotoc. The Vikings added a run in the sixth on Kaitlin Robertson’s single and two in the seventh on a 2-RBI double by Madison Carnes.
South Pontotoc scored three in the seventh on singles by Kendrick and Kinzi Ellis, and a sac fly by Brenna Holley.