North State girls softball finals today
hosting playoff series.
By Gene Phelps
Seven Northeast Mississippi teams are playing today for four North Mississippi championships in high school girls slow-pitch softball.
In Class 3A, the Daily Journal's top two teams - No. 1 Amory (33-6) and No. 2 Kossuth (35-3) - play at 4:30 p.m. today in Kossuth in a best-of-three series.
In Class 5A, Tupelo (24-8) hosts Northwest Rankin (32-5) at 4 p.m. at Veterans Park.
In Class 2A, Mooreville (29-9) hosts Hatley (25-12) in another all-area matchup at 6 p.m.
In Class 1A, Myrtle (23-9) entertains Hamilton (23-5) in all-area play at 5 p.m.
The winners of the four series will be crowned North Mississippi champions in their respective classes and will advance to Saturday's state championships series against the South winner at the VA fields in Jackson.
Tupelo coach Michael Gable said his team continues to play "better and better' each time out.
"This is the time of the year you want to be playing well," he said. "We're playing hard. We've got some seniors who want to win it."
The Lady Wave advanced to the North finals with a comeback win Saturday against Meridian. Tupelo lost the first game 6-5, then rallied from an 11-5 deficit in the second game to win 19-11. The Wave rolled in the third game, winning 12-3.
"It would have been easy for us to quit when we were down 11-5 and say we had a good year," Gable said. "We didn't. We came back. The girls showed a lot of character and determination."
Outfielder Shera Edwards went 10-for-12 in the series and played solid defense. First baseman Rebekah Crider added three doubles and had nine RBI.
"The whole team played well the entire series," Gable said.
Mooreville has beaten Hatley twice this season, but Lady Troopers coach Rex Berryman said the wins mean nothing today.
"Don't let those scores (11-5, 13-0) fool you," he said. "We just had a couple of those nights. Hatley's got a good team."
Mooreville reached the North finals by beating Simmons 7-0 and 7-1 Saturday while Hatley rebounded from a 2-1 loss in Game 1 to defeat Riverside 8-2 and 9-1.
Hatley defeated Mooreville in the North title game last season.
"Hatley's given us fits over the years," Berryman said. "They'll do the same this time."
Freshman first baseman Kelly Hankins, sophomore pitcher Alisha Knox, sophomore third baseman Candy Shumpert, and the team's lone senior starter, outfielder Brandi Pierce, led the Troopers.
Amory reached the North finals Saturday with an 8-7, 12-4 sweep of Cleveland. Kossuth sent Senatobia packing with 11-1, 10-8 wins.
The Lady Aggies knocked Amory out of the playoffs last season.
"Amory's the same team as last year," Kossuth coach Alan Wood said. "They are a solid senior team with a lot of playoff experience."
Outfielder Latasha Essary and shortstop Ashley Jones are both batting .500 for Kossuth.
Senior Stacy McCommon and junior Keri McFarling lead the visiting Panthers.
Myrtle rebounded from an 8-4 loss to Smithville in Game 1 to take 6-5 and 14-1 victories.
Hamilton swept Tremont, winning 3-2 and 5-4.