By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
SPRINGVILLE – CC Costilow and her South Pontotoc teammates are enjoying the ride of their lives this week.
It comes to an end Saturday in Ridgeland.
Costilow and the Lady Cougars, who defeated defending state champion Nettleton in Tuesday’s state semifinals, play Southeast Lauderdale in a best-of-three game series at Freedom Ridge Park for the Class 3A slow-pitch state championship.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Costilow, the team’s senior pitcher said on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after their stunning 1-0, 5-4 wins against Nettleton. “We celebrated and cried. It was very, very emotional.”
Senior outfielder Breanna Kitchens says a confident, but far from satisfied, South Pontotoc team (23-11) will be making the bus trip south.
“We need to stay focused on what’s ahead of us and not what’s behind us,” she said. “Coach (Adam) Patterson told us earlier this season that we were strong enough to go all the way, even though we were young.”
The Lady Cougars’ lineup features four seniors, two juniors, one sophomore, one freshman and two eighth graders.
Patterson believes his team has matured in the postseason. They needed three games to beat Mantachie in their first-round series, then swept Kossuth in two games on the road before coming home to host Nettleton.
“We’ve played three tough rounds,” said the coach, who’s in his seventh season at South Pontotoc. “By beating Nettleton, we beat the toughest 3A team in the north.
“We’ve played good defense and CC’s pitched well. We’re a fairly consistent hitting team, but we’re not overpowering.”
Kitchens leads the team with a .505 average, four homers and 34 RBI. Costilow is second at .451, three homers and 30 RBI.
Southeast Lauderdale (23-8), one of the state’s traditional powers, lost to Nettleton last season in the best-of-three game state championship series.
This is South Pontotoc’s first trip to the title series.
“If we can get past Nettleton, we can get by anybody,” Costilow said. “We’re going to have to be mentally tough. We’ve got to go in and do whatever it takes.”