Young braces for success

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

NETTLETON – Three weeks ago, MariAnna Young was sitting on the infield dirt at Mooreville, holding her injured right knee and crying.
“I figured my season was over … that I was out,” said Nettleton’s junior pitcher, who suffered a torn knee ligament (ACL).
Young, pitching with her injured leg braced from mid-thigh to mid-calf, scattered five hits, recorded three strikeouts and walked one batter over seven innings Friday in the Lady Tigers’ 7-2 victory against South Pontotoc in Game 1 of their Class 3A fastpitch state playoff second-round best-of-three series.
It was her first full game in the circle since the injury. She had pitched four innings in an earlier game against Mantachie.
“My doctor told me I could play as long as it didn’t bother me,” Young said. “The brace doesn’t allow the knee to move around. It doesn’t bother me.”
‘Getting there’
Young, who faces surgery this summer, admits she’s not full strength just yet. “I’m getting there,” she said.
Lady Tigers coach Dana Rhea knew his ace would return to the lineup if cleared.
“She’s got a heart the size of Texas,” he said. “She’s a gamer.”
Nettleton (19-6) plays at 1 p.m. today at South Pontotoc (15-13) in Game 2. A third game, if necessary, would follow.
If today’s games are postponed by rain, they will be played at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Kaleigh Tackett’s solo homer in the first highlighted a two-run Nettleton inning. Chelsea Tucker doubled and scored in the second.
The Lady Tigers added single runs in the third and fourth, and clinched it with two more in the sixth.
South Pontotoc helped its cause by committing three errors, two of which led to unearned runs.
“We had a couple of big hits early and capitalized on a couple of their miscues early,” Rhea noted.
South Pontotoc’s MacKenzie Denton was the lone Lady Cougar to figure Young out. She singled, doubled and tripled.
gene.phelps@journalinc.com