By Brandon Speck
BOONEVILLE – Reigning North champion Nettleton needed every break it caught Wednesday in a 3-1 win at Booneville to open its Class 3A fast-pitch playoffs.
With a two-run cushion and three outs remaining, right fielder Brittany Adams made a running catch off the bat of Booneville’s Morgan Blythe. Then left fielder Harley Tucker had to go out of her way to catch the second out.
“We were one not-great play from this being interesting,” Nettleton coach Dana Rhea said.
Nettleton took advantage of five Booneville errors, scoring twice, one after Taylor Smith doubled in a 1-0 lead after Lauren Baldwyn’s leadoff single in the first.
“Unfortunately, mistakes come and get you,” Booneville coach Jeremy Reece said. “Hopefully we can correct those. I thought Madison (Davis) threw real well. I thought their pitcher threw well.”
Game 2, and 3 if necessary, is today at 5 p.m. in Nettleton.
Booneville (9-18-1) cut the lead in half on Davis’ triple and Blythe’s RBI single in the second inning, but Nettleton added the only insurance it would need in the fifth.
Baldwyn walked and stole second. Kaleigh Tackett then reached on an infield error before another miscue scored Baldwyn.
Nettleton is trying to reach its seventh straight state title series. The Lady Tigers (21-4) have won three titles.
“I think we need to calm down and think about stuff a lot more,” Smith said, “really be focused.”
Booneville had a chance to score more in the second. After MariAnna Young struck out Laura Horn, Annabeth Ford walked to put two on with one out. But Young (16-2) got Ali Martin to strike out and leadoff Karah Stephenson to ground out to third.
Davis (6-8) took a hard luck loss. Just back from injury that saw her miss the bulk of the division season, the junior struck out seven.
“We didn’t square the ball up well,” Rhea said. “I’ll give their pitcher credit for that. She did a fine job. She moved the ball around and we just didn’t make any adjustments.”