Tupelo's big hitter, Lauren Knight

Tupelo’s Lauren Knight and her Lady Wave teammates show off Saturday’s home run ball.

MADISON – Adversity brings out the best in Tupelo.

In Saturday’s do-or-die Game 3 against Madison Central, the Lady Wave rallied from a stinging Game 2 loss to defeat the Lady Jaguars 12-0 in six innings in Game 3 to advance to the program’s first appearance in the MHSAA Class 6A State Tournament finals.

Coming back has been Tupelo’s specialty during the postseason. The Lady Wave rallied from Game 1 losses to Warren Central and Clinton to win Game 2 and Game 3 on the road.

In a change, the Lady Wave won Game 1 against Madison Central 5-3 Friday in Tupelo. In Game 2, the hosts rallied from a 4-2 deficit to beat the Lady Wave 5-4.

“I think it’s what happened in the prior series,” Tupelo coach Dana Rhea said of his team’s don’t-give-up approach. “I told them we’ve been in this spot every round. Nothing’s changed.

“The girls came through. I’m so proud for them.”

The Lady Wave (24-9) plays Brandon or Harrison Central at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Game 1 in Ridgeland.

Tupelo, leading 1-0 after a double by senior Lauren Knight in the third inning, started to break away in the fifth. The Lady Wave chased Madison Central starter Britney Bonney with a five-run, sixth inning. Five of the Wave’s hits were doubles by Knight, Ivy Watts, Kendall Brooks, Tay Wren and Gracie Rutherford.

The sixth inning was a repeat. Tupelo scored six runs on six hits, including a solo homer from Knight to kickstart the onslaught.

“I honestly thought it was a pop-up when I hit it, but somehow it went over,” Knight said, clutching the yellow home run ball.

Knight went 3 for 4 with two doubles and the homer. Watts was 4 for 4. Rutherford and Brooks both went 3 for 4 with two doubles apiece.

While the Wave bats provided plenty of pop, Wren mastered the Lady Jaguars from the circle. She scattered five hits and recorded six strikeouts using her breaking ball. The young hurler won all of the Wave’s division games this season while Watts battled a back injury.

“I knew Tay would step up and be ready when her time came,” Rhea said. “When she’s good, she’s really good.”

Game 2

Madison Central 5, Tupelo 4: The hosts scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh on Mya Hopson’s walk-off single.

gene.phelps@journalinc.com Twitter: @genephelps

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