By Melissa Meador/Monroe Journal
MOOREVILLE – Nettleton’s sixth straight trip to the MHSAA 3A fast pitch softball state championship came through a familiar foe in rival Mooreville.
The Lady Tigers (24-7) took a decisive Game 3 13-7, pounding out 20 hits on the road on Tuesday night to win the North state championship.
“I think you could have polled all the people here and none of them would have picked us to make it back to state,” Nettleton coach Dana Rhea said. “We lost two great seniors from last year, and our pitcher (MariAnna Young) came back after tearing her ACL. This bunch of girls is just unbelievable. They never quit.”
The two teams exchanged leads several times before Nettleton took the lead for good with a three-run fourth inning, which featured RBI triples from Chelsea Tucker and Brittany Adams and a run-scoring single from Harley Tucker.
The Lady Tigers padded their lead with two in the fifth on an RBI single from Lauren Baldwyn and a sac fly from Chelsea Tucker and one in the seventh on a sac fly from Molly Bramlett, who went 4 for 5.
“It feels great to know we’re getting back there and proving everyone wrong,” Bramlett said. “We all felt good at the plate in the second game, and we just really wanted it tonight.”
In the bottom of the sixth, Mooreville (26-6) brought in a run on an Analyse Long double, but were unable to close the gap further.
Nettleton pulled away with two more runs in the top of the seventh with run-scoring singles from Harley Tucker and Adams.
In Game 2 5-2 win for Mooreville, the Lady Troopers took the lead in the third on a Nettleton error and added two more in the sixth on an RBI double by Analyse Long and a sacrifice fly from Kelsy Minga. Nettleton scored in the first on a sacrifice fly from Kaleigh Tackett and in the third on a groundout from Taylor Smith.
Nettleton will play defending state champion St. Patrick in the 3A championship series starting on Friday.