HAMILTON – Baldwyn swept Division 1-2A rival Hamilton during the regular season by a combined 17-1 score for that team’s only division losses.
Thursday night, Hamilton got revenge when it mattered most.
In the semifinals of the MHSAA Class 2A slow-pitch playoffs, Hamilton turned a rare triple play in Baldwyn’s first inning, then exploded for a combined 24 runs in a sweep of visiting Baldwyn, 12-3 and 12-1.
The North champion Lady Lions (17-9) will now face South champion Enterprise in a best-of-three series to determine the state champion Saturday at 11 a.m. at Jackson’s V.A. Fields.
“We didn’t play very well at the beginning of the year,” said Hamilton coach Lewis Earnest, who lost six straight at one point. “The first two times we played them, we knew we were better than what we showed. We just felt like if we got another opportunity, we’d play better.”
Hamilton, which finished runner-up in last season’s 2A title game to Clarkdale, has won 11 straight games and 12 of 13. The team finished with 34 combined hits on Thursday.
“We’re in the postseason,” Earnest said. “I guess they just knew what time it was.”
Hamilton scored seven runs in the second inning of Game 1, five of them on back-to-back home runs from seniors Chauncia Willis and Hannah Howell. Leading 4-0, Willis sent a grand slam over the left field fence to put the Lady Lions ahead 8-0. Howell followed with a solo shot to right for a 9-0 lead.
Hamilton got two more RBI singles from Lexus Jordan and another from Caitlyn Atkins.
Baldwyn (18-10) got an RBI sacrifice from Consuela Starks, an RBI groundout from Mallory Hill and an RBI single from Kayleigh Bishop.
Baldwyn has been eliminated by Hamilton three straight years in the slow-pitch playoffs and twice in fast-pitch, all in the last three seasons.
“We didn’t put any hits together,” said Baldwyn coach Jessica Taylor. “We didn’t play as a team. That’s about it.”
The triple play looked to have taken the wind out of Baldwyn’s sails. The Lady Bearcats had put three runners on base to open Game 1. Starks then lined a drive to Katie Beth Dahlem in center field, who threw to Lyndsey Williams for the second out and Williams threw out Bishop at home.
“That was big time,” Earnest said. “They had a chance to just explode on us in the first inning and we just turned it around. I’m sure it let some wind out of their sails. We beat a good team.”
In Game 2, Hamilton jumped on top 5-0 in the top of the first inning. Williams had a two-run double and Dahlem an RBI single. Dahlem’s two-run home run in the third inning made it 8-0 Lady Lions. Emily Earnest, Howell, Dahlem and Atkins added RBI singles.
“We played our heart out tonight and it paid off. (The triple play) just sparked the whole game up.”
Alison Atkins got both wins for Hamilton. Maggie Martin took both losses for Baldwyn.
Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal