By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Player of the Year:Stennett Smith, Corinth
CORINTH – Stennett Smith, the Daily Journal’s 2012 Slow-Pitch Softball Player of the Year, is all about “we” when talking about the Lady Warriors’ championship season.
Corinth defeated powerhouse and once-beaten Newton County in a best-of-three series last month to win the Class 4A state championship at Freedom Ridge Park in Ridgeland.
Newton County beat the Lady Warriors in the 2011 state championships series.
“We played more to our ability this year,” said Smith, a senior shortstop. “Last year, we were just excited to be there. This year it was more of a business trip for us.
“We knew we could go down there and take care of business.”
Smith, who batted .544 with 16 doubles, 12 home runs – five of those in the postseason – and drove in 50 runs, seemed somewhat shy and modest about discussing her season.
“I guess I had a pretty good year,” she said. “It was fun.”
Two other players – North Pontotoc’s Arrian Henry and Brittany Seale – were also considered for the Journal’s award.
Corinth coach Janna LaBarreare didn’t hold back when talking about Smith’s contributions on the dirt diamond.
“Stennett’s a dynamic player,” she said. “She’s got a great arm and makes good decisions in the field. She’s a patient hitter and doesn’t swing at bad pitches. She’s got great work ethic and she’s a vocal leader.
“She’s the total package.”
Smith said the goal was to go back to Ridgeland and win this season. However, it took a comeback in a playoffs series to convince the Lady Warriors it might happen.
Corinth rallied from a 7-3 loss to North Pontotoc for 9-2 and 15-0 wins to take the state quarterfinals series on the road.
“When we came back to win the third game 15-0, we realized we could do it,” Smith said. “We started the season slow, but once we got rolling, we were pretty hard to beat.”
Corinth then captured another road series, beating Houston in three games in the state semifinals. Smith belted two home runs in the series.
In the state finals, Smith hit a 250-foot homer in the opener to lead the Lady Warriors to a 9-6 victory. Newton County rallied for a 6-3 win, before falling 8-1 in the deciding game.
“To beat Newton County made it more special,” Smith said. “All the seniors on this team have been playing together since the eighth grade. This was special for us.”