Senior gift: Little-used Laufenberg leads Lady Toppers to win

By Brandon Speck/Daily Journal

RIDGELAND – Jadie Laufenberg can count on both hands how many at-bats she had this season.
She may end up with her team’s two biggest hits.
The senior went yard twice Friday in Houston’s 10-7 win against Newton County in Game 1 of the Class 4A fastpitch finals at Freedom Park.
Game 2 of the best-of-three series is today at 1 p.m. Houston is in it’s first finals appearance.
“It surprised me but I was happy,” said Laufenberg, who had three of Houston’s 14 hits. “We’re proving a lot of people wrong.”
Houston (33-2) scored two early runs after errors.
Laufenberg followed an error with a two-run shot in the second. After a triple from Chelsea Gates, Mary Kansas Sullivan and Audi Dendy added an RBI single and double for a 6-0 lead. Laufenberg added a solo shot in the third.
“We’ve used her in special occasions when we needed big hits,” Houston coach Keith Jernigan said. “We just felt like with her hard work this past week…we gave her the opportunity and it really paid off.”
Newton County (28-4) got on the board on a Darby Bishop gapper.
The Lady Toppers got it back in the fourth. After the third hit from
Gates, Dendy hit a two-out RBI single.
Three sixth-inning errors led to four two-out runs and Shelby Bishop’s RBI single pulled her team within 8-6.
Houston responded with another deep ball in the seventh. Avery Springer tripled and Yasmeen Cooper homered to extend the lead to 10-6.
“This is all new to us,” Jernigan said. “They didn’t let the emotions get to them.”
Haley Gravat (33-2) escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh. Abby Reeves drove in a run on a fielder’s choice before Gravat got a grounder back to the circle to end it.
Houston took a 2-0 lead in the first on a sac fly from Dendy and Springer’s RBI.
Emily Davis (18-2) took the loss.
“They hit it as good as anybody we’ve seen,” Newton County coach Justin Chaney said. “And we dug ourselves such a hole.”
brandon.speck@journalinc.com