By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
MANTACHIE – Nothing against Mantachie, but Nettleton slow-pitch softball coach Dana Rhea thought his club played its “F” game on Thursday night.
Normally, a coach would be quite pleased with a 4-1 division win in extra innings on the road. But if you’re the skipper of a team that is undefeated in the regular season (20-0, 6-0) and had just clinched its fourth division title in five years, you seemingly have the right to be nitpicky.
“Mantachie, they’re a great ballclub. Coach (Noah) Hamilton did a good job with them this year. I can’t say enough about them,” the Lady Tigers coach said after the regular-season finale.
“I’m just proud of this team and the way they battled back and battled throughout the game. When you bring your ‘F’ game and you find a way to win, that’s pretty impressive.”
It took a three-run top of the eighth for the Lady Tigers to come away with their second win of the season over the Lady Mustangs (18-6, 3-3). Makenzie Hawkins, who scored the game’s first run after doubling to lead off the sixth, got things started in the eighth with a base hit through the left side of the infield.
Lauren Baldwyn (3 for 4) followed with a single to right center. Then, Jabria Pounds, whose sacrifice fly scored Hawkins in the sixth, hit into a 4-6 fielder’s choice that led to a throwing error when Mantachie tried to complete a double play at first.
Hawkins scored the go-ahead run as a result of the error.
The Lady Tigers weren’t done. Anna Kent helped herself on the mound by singling in a run and Molly Bramlett also provided an RBI single.
The Lady Mustangs went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the frame to end the game and miss out on making the playoffs in their first season since moving up to MHSAA’s Class 3A.
“We generally hit the ball,” said first-year coach Noah Hamilton, “and tonight we didn’t hit much of anything. And you can’t score runs if you don’t hit – not in slow-pitch; it’s an offensive game.”
Handcuffed by kent
The Lady Mustangs tied the contest at one run apiece in the bottom of the sixth when Alli DeVaughn singled in Regan McFerrin. But the Lady Mustangs could only muster seven hits off of Kent (20-0).
Mallory Clouse and Shelby Kindt each had two hits for their squad that finishes third – due to a head-to-head, run-differential tiebreaker – in Division 2-3 behind its rival, Mooreville.
The 4-1 outcome on Thursday seemed like a fast-pitch affair to Hamilton.
“I thought that’s what we were playing for a while,” said the Mantachie coach. “I thought maybe we were going to have to sacrifice bunt or something. … I told the umpire that I was going to try to sacrifice bunt and he just laughed at me.”