Big hit avoids Lady Lions
BY BRANDON SPECK
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 the Loyd Star Lady Hornets a series-clinching 3-2 win over Hamilton in the MHSAA Class 2A state championship on Saturday.
"When it gets to this point, you've 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.
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," said Loyd Star head coach Jan DeLaughter about her daughter's game-winning hit.
Hamilton (16-12) appeared to get that big mistake in the bottom of the seventh when the 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. DeLaughter induced the next Lady Lion batter into a pop out to seal the series sweep with the one-run victory.
"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.
In the first game of the championship series, Loyd Star exploded for nine runs in the third inning to take a 9-1 lead before ultimately getting a 10-5 victory.
"Offensively, we played well and defensively, we didn't really play that bad. We did leave a few things open and they capitalized on those things," Cobb said.
McCormick singled and scored in the first. Savage singled and scored on a wild pitch in the fourth. McCormick singled and scored, Savage reached on a fielder's choice and scored, and Williams reached via a four-pitch walk and scored in the fifth.
Jordan and McCormick each had a pair of singles for the Lady Lions.
Hamilton hopes to return to Ridgeland as they return all but three starters next season.
"The three seniors we have (McCormick, Kelle West, and Sydney Sanders) mean a lot to the program and they have been a part of it a long time. We are going to miss them an awful lot," Cobb said.