By Jonathan Wise
ECRU – North Pontotoc used offensive power and strong defensive play to sweep Belmont in the first round of the MHSAA Class 3A slow pitch softball playoffs.
The Lady Vikings’ offense exploded in an 11-1 rout of the Lady Cardinals while the defense made a first-inning 4-0 lead stick in Tuesday’s sweep.
“We came out and played really well early,” said first-year North Pontotoc head coach CeeCee Austin. “I thought we got a little complacent in the second game, but we were able to win. I told the girls that when you get to this level everybody is good. You have to keep scoring. All in all, though, I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
North Pontotoc (15-10) took a first-inning lead in Game 1 on a two-run single from catcher Dee Williams, and followed it up with an eight-run second.
Tia Davis drove home Abby Wilder and Katelyn Mathews with a double, and Kaitlin Robertson singled to plate Lindsey Coffee. Williams drove in two additional runs with a double, and Madison Carnes and Abby Wilder also had run-scoring hits.
Belmont (9-13) pushed a run across in the fourth, its lone one of the day, on a double from shortstop Nicole Moody, but a second double by Davis plated pinch runner Alexia Roberson in the fifth to put North Pontotoc up 1-0 in the series.
Game 2 started out looking like a mirror image of the opener, with the Lady Vikings scoring four quick runs in the first on a grand slam from Williams that gave her eight RBI on the day. That would be all they needed, as North Pontotoc was rock solid in the field and Belmont failed to string hits together.
“You have to hit to be able to win,” said Belmont coach Jeff Long. “We have hit the ball well at times this year and struggled at times like we did today. This was the first time we have been to playoffs in six years, so I think there were some nerves involved too.”