By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal
NETTLETON – Before Nettleton’s run of three straight Class 3A fast-pitch championships, the name to know in North Mississippi was Mooreville.
That name may be up for grabs again as the two look ready to renew a fierce rivalry. Game 1 is Tuesday, April 3 at Mooreville.
“We’ve lost a lot of kids over the past few years from when we won our first state championship,” Nettleton coach Dana Rhea said. “It’s year-by-year. There are a lot of good teams up here.”
The Lady Tigers (8-1) lost six off the second title team and three last season.
This cast has two seniors, shortstop Makenzie Hawkins and centerfielder Korie Beth Leach.
Hawkins entered Friday’s game against Pontotoc hitting .708 with four home runs and 25 RBI. Her three-run shot proved the difference in a 3-2 win.
Her average and home run total are tops in the state.
“I’m just glad to be out here, ready to play,” Hawkins said, then smiled.
Rhea took over the team after Chris Kidd left for an administrative role at Hatley. He has led the team to a pair of slow-pitch titles and was Kidd’s assistant.
Leach is hitting .320 and tied for team-highs with a pair of doubles and a triple.
“Mak has been a big part of us already. She’s been hitting the ball real well and we just kind of expect her leadership the rest of the season,” Rhea said. “Kori Beth has come a long way this year. She has stepped up and been the ideal senior. Her leadership along with what she does on the field is priceless.”
Leadoff hitter Molly Bramlett is second on the team, hitting .464.
Last year’s graduating class consisted of big bats Hayley Parker and Jessica Patterson, as well as dominating arm Michele Hester.
Chelsea Tucker, Taylor Smith and Mari-Anna Young have taken primary roles at catcher, outfielder and pitcher.
“People are stepping up, filling their positions and doing a really good job,” Hawkins said.