Sweep sets up another Class 3A title defense

By Brandon Speck/Daily Journal

NETTLETON – It’s just that time of year.
The Nettleton Lady Tigers are Class 3A North’s fastpitch champions.
Nettleton completed a two-game sweep of Booneville Saturday afternoon with a 7-1 win.
Nettleton is headed to its fifth straight championship series and has won the last three.
The Lady Tigers (24-4) lost three big bats and pitcher Michele Hester after last season.
“I was telling them after the game, ‘You just keep proving people wrong,” Nettleton coach Dana Rhea said. “People don’t expect you to be here and you’re steadily here.’ I’m so proud of them.”
Nettleton will face either St. Patrick or Sumrall on Friday in Ridgeland. The Lady Tigers swept St. Patrick last season.
There was no dog pile for a team that has been here before.
“You’ve got to wait until you get to state. That’s where the big celebration is,” said Makenzie Hawkins, one of two seniors. “You’ve got to stay calm and just play like it’s another game until you get there.”
Nettleton took a 1-0 lead in the second on an errant pickoff throw as Chelsea Tucker took second and Anna Kent scored.
In the third, Molly Bramlett reached on a bunt and Lauren Baldwyn was hit by a pitch from starter Caroline Goodwin.
Another errant pickoff throw scored Bramlett from third. After Hawkins walked to load the bases, Kaeigh Tackett’s fielder’s choice made it 3-0. Anna Kent’s bunt loaded the bases and Korie Beth Leach drew a walk for a 4-0 lead.
With no outs, Booneville brought in Madison Davis, who retired three straight to end the inning.
Goodwin (5-5) took the loss for Booneville (17-10-2), which got a run back in the fourth on Bre Agnew’s sac fly.
“They’re a good team. We couldn’t hit the ball Thursday or today,” said Booneville coach Lee Boyette. “We made some mistakes, couldn’t get things going our way and couldn’t catch a break anytime.”
Nettleton scored again in the fourth on a Hawkins’ RBI and two runs scored in the sixth as Leach reached on an error with the bases loaded. MariAnna Young improved to 23-2.
“I can’t say enough about how she’s stepped into this role,” Rhea said. “Honestly I don’t even think anybody expected us to be here.”
brandon.speck@journalinc.com