By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
RIDGELAND – Newton County came to town Thursday with its bats loaded for defending 4A state champion North Pontotoc.
The state’s top-ranked team pounded out 18 hits, including two home runs, to defeat the Lady Vikings 13-3 in the first game of their MHSAA fast-pitch softball state championship series at Freedom Ridge Park.
“They’re not No. 1 in the state for nothing,” North Pontotoc coach Shane Montgomery said. “They came in here with a lot more fight than we did.”
The second game of the best-of-three series between the Vikings (28-6) and Cougars (33-2) is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday. A third game, if necessary, would follow.
Newton County took a 4-0 lead through two innings, then added three more in the fourth to charge ahead 7-0.
Shelby Bishop, the Cougars’ leadoff batter, hit a two-run homer in the second inning while Emily Davis ripped a three-run shot in the fourth.
“It was really impressive the way we hit the ball,” Newton County coach Justin Chaney said. “My top three, wow! They had an impressive day.
“Hey, we hit the ball up and down the lineup.”
Shelby Bishop, Davis and Darby Bishop, the Cougars’ top three batters, collected eight of the 18 hits.
Davis started the game in the circle, but collapsed after a pitch in the first inning when her ankle turned. She was replaced by Darby Bishop.
“Nothing bothers Darby,” Chaney said. “She does what’s best for our team. When she’s out there our best defense is on the field. That’s when we have Davis at third.”
Davis recovered from her injury to play third and hit the home run.
North Pontotoc scattered 10 hits, but did little damage. Katie Denton did belt a two-run homer in the fourth inning. Brittany Seale added a final run with her single in the fifth.
“We had too many innings where we gave them four and five outs,” Montgomery said. “We can’t do that. Offensively, we’ve got to hit the ball and score runs.
“We need to get on the same page … one through nine.”