By Gene Phelps
The third round of the MHSAA state fast-pitch softball playoffs shares the stage today with Game 3s in the second round of the state baseball playoffs.
Today’s softball schedule features Game 1s. The Game 2s and 3s, if needed, will be played Tuesday. In all, 15 Northeast Mississippi teams play today, many in all-area series.
One series to watch today in softball is Clinton at Tupelo in 6A.
Tupelo reached the third round last week after sweeping favored DeSoto Central on the road in Games 2 and 3.
One of the stars in the Lady Wave’s series win was senior first baseman Katie Rieves, who hit two home runs. One of those was a grand slam in Game 3.
“I think we all knew what was at stake,” said Rieves, referring to Tupelo’s 10-3 Game 1 loss.
Another key contributor in the playoffs has been senior outfielder Alisha Graf. She’s averaged .615 in five playoff games with eight hits as the No. 9 batter.
“Alisha started the season leading off,” Tupelo coach Dana Rhea said. “She hit a slump and we moved her in the order to take the pressure off her.
“She accepted that role. She’s a true team player.”
Graf attributes her success to help from Rhea with her work at the plate.
“I’ve worked on settling in,” she said. “I’m seeing the ball better.”
Rhea believes the continued contributions from the bottom of his batting order is crucial to his team’s continued success in the postseason.
In softball, defending 3A state champion Mooreville travels to rival Nettleton for a 6 p.m. game today. The series resumes Tuesday at 6 in Mooreville.
In baseball, six series will be decided with the play of Game 3s. Four of those are all-area match ups – Calhoun City at Ingomar (2A), New Site at Nettleton (3A), Hatley at Kossuth (3A), Houston at Corinth (4A).
Hatley forced a Game 3 against the defending state champions with a 5-3 victory Saturday.