By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
MANTACHIE – Warning: Playing Mantachie on its home field can be hazardous to a visiting team.
Defending state champion Nettleton suffered one of its two losses here earlier this season.
Thursday night, the Lady Mustangs defeated division rival Mooreville 8-3 in a winner-take-all game to advance to next week’s opening round of the Class 3A state slow-pitch softball playoffs.
“I love it here,” said Mantachie senior second baseman Mallory Clouse. “It’s to our advantage that our field is bigger. We know how to play on it. Our fans also keep us pumped up.”
Mantachie (14-8, 4-2 Division 2) will play at South Pontotoc next Tuesday in a first-round, one-day, best-of-three series.
Clouse caused plenty of damage against the Lady Troopers (19-5, 3-3) with her offense and defense. She drove in three runs on two hits, including the go-ahead double in the fifth inning. Her fielding helped lead to nine Mooreville outs.
Clouse “played the game of her life,” Mantachie first-year head coach Kristi Montgomery said. “She did a fabulous job.”
The Lady Mustangs took a 3-0 lead in the second inning on singles by Regan McFerrin and Shanna Carnathan, and four errors.
Montgomery credited her team’s success with a change in offensive strategy this season.
“They used to hit the long ball, but I told them we were done hitting the fly ball,” she said. “We put the ball on the ground and people make errors.”
Mooreville cut the lead to 3-2 in the third, then tied it at 3-3 in the fifth, before Clouse smacked her two-run double.
The Lady Mustangs added three insurance runs in the sixth on a two-run double by Brittany Adams and an RBI single by Allisa Patterson.
“That was a pretty good team effort,” Montgomery said. “This team has had its ups and downs, but they’ve come a long way. And, they’ve had success at home.”