RIDGELAND – Junior pitcher Brooke DeLaughter ripped a single to shallow center to plate the eventual game-winning run in the top of the seventh to give Loyd Star’s Lady Hornets a series-clinching 3-2 win over Hamilton in the MHSSA Class 2A state championship on Saturday.
Brooke “had been in a slump… I told her to keep her head down and eyes on the ball and she did a good job for us,” Loyd Star head coach Jan DeLaughter said about her daughter’s game-winning hit.
“When it gets to this point you just got to have the big hit or the big mistake by the other team. … They were able to get that big hit,” said Hamilton skipper Jason Cobb.
Hamilton (16-12) appeared to get that “big mistake” in the bottom of the seventh when Loyd Star (31-1-1) shortstop Sarah Falvey dropped a two-out pop fly, allowing sophomore Anna Imel to score and the tying run to advance to second.
But DeLaughter induced the next Lady Lions batter into a popup to seal the series sweep.
“Anytime you lose the last one, it’s real hard to be pumped about anything you did during the season, but this group of girls have gone through a lot. I just commend them for keeping their heads up to fight and battle all the way to the end,” Cobb said.
Defensively, the Lady Hornets got a pair of game-saving plays from Karah Smith. The sophomore left fielder made a sliding catch to rob freshman Lexus Jordan of a potential extra-base hit to end the bottom of the third and keep a run off the board.
She repeated her heroic efforts when she robbed sophomore Lyndsey Williams of a hit to lead off the bottom of the fourth.
Jordan tripled and scored on a single by Williams in the bottom of the first. Loyd Star scored on a Carrie Moak single in the third and sacrifice fly from Smith in the sixth. Imel and junior Katie Beth Dahlem each singled for the Lady Lions.
Hamilton hopes to return to Ridgeland as they return all but three starters next season.
Adam Gore/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal