SMITHVILLE - After West Union's 5-3 win in Game 1 of the Class 1A North finals Thursday in Smithville, Lady Eagles (22-9) coach Lisa Bogue said the series was nowhere near over.
Her statement rang true on Saturday. After an 11-4 win in Game 2, Smithville overcame more than enough obstacles to punch a third straight ticket to the Class 1A state championship series with a 3-1 win in nine innings of Game 3. The Lady Seminoles (26-6) will face either Sebastopol or Bogue Chitto beginning Friday in Ridgeland. The Lady Seminoles are making a third straight trip to the finals and looking for the school's first championship.
"We scored a lot of runs and had a lot of hits in the first game," Smithville coach Jeremy Duke said. "I knew that was going to slow down. It did. We scrapped."
Each team blew opportunities in extra innings. In the top of the eighth, Smithville moved international rule runner Marissa Pitts to third on a wild pitch, but West Union pitcher Danielle Taylor, who pitched all three series games, struck out Breanna Edgeworth and got two popouts to keep Smithville from scoring.
In the bottom of the eighth, Smithville pitcher Kami Roberts escaped a jam of her own. Kimberly Jumper's infield single and an intentional walk to Leah Paige Goolsby loaded the bases. Roberts struck Taylor out, then got Julianna Garner to ground into a rare 1-2-3 double play to end the inning unharmed and keep the season alive.
"We get a strikeout and a 1-2-3 double play," Duke said. "It was meant to be after that, I thought."
Meagan Whitehead, who pitched Game 2's win, made sure it stayed alive in the top of the ninth. With one out and Caitlyn Capps on second base, Kelsi Watson reached on a catcher interference call. Whitehead then singled and a bobbled ball in centerfield sent Capps and Watson home for a 3-1 lead, and win. Hannah McQuary added her second hit of the day in the bottom of the inning, but Roberts ended the game with her sixth strikeout. She allowed only five hits in the win.
"It was unbelievable," Whitehead said. "We pushed through everything. We knew we could do it and we did."
McQuary singled to lead off the third. She stole second and took third when Jessica Gates reached on an infield bunt single. She scored on a wild pitch.
Smithville tied the game in the fifth. Courtney Phillips led off the inning with a triple and scored on a wild pitch to tie the game.