By Brandon Speck
Amory and Corinth are going into familiar territory. The Lady Panthers host the division rival Lady Warriors tonight in a best-of-three series for the Class 4A North slow-pitch softball title and a berth in Saturday’s state championship series.
They split their regular-season games, both winning on the road.
“We’ve had intense games and I know they’ve got good seniors,” Corinth coach Janna LaBarreare said. “We’re a really young team.”
It could be Corinth’s third straight championship series appearance. Amory hasn’t been there since winning it all in 1999.
Amory (27-5) lost four games by one run – four of five losses coming against North finalists.
“You’ve got to hit in slow-pitch,” Amory coach Chris Pace said. “But we’ve played pretty good defense and have stayed in some games with defense.”
The Lady Warriors (23-7) won it all last season, but lost five seniors. Amory looks old with its three seniors – OF Bailey Boyd (.500), SS Bailey Oswalt (.490) and 1B Josie Booth (.450). But there are no juniors and eighth-grade catcher Aynslee Willis is hitting .530. Sophomore Savannah Nelson has pitched every game.
“We got rolling and got hot,” Pace said.
Corinth’s youth starts with sophomore pitcher and first-time starter Allie Jacobs (23-6). Juniors Katie Vandiver, Rebekah Williams and leadoff Jamia Kirk have been key. Kirk missed the first game against Amory and LaBarreare says her return has been big. LaBarreare says sophomore OF Anna Kayte Webb has made big plays. Freshman Colby Cox starts at short, eighth-grader Tatiana Selmon at second.
“The first time we played Amory, they were like deer in headlights, still looking for those seniors,” LaBarreare said. “They’ve responded well.”
Four will advance
The Journal coverage area has eight teams in the hunt. All but the Class 2A – East Union at Baldwyn – share divisions. Both are looking for their first appearance in Ridgeland. In 1A, back-to-back champ Smithville goes to 2A champ Hamilton, which swept the season series. Netteton and Mooreville meet in 3A. Nettleton won it all in 2009 and 2011.