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South Pontotoc coach Adam Patterson led his Lady Cougars to the Class 3A state championship this year, his 13th season with the program.

SPRINGVILLE Adam Patterson comes from exceptional baseball stock, but that isn’t why he’s become a championship softball coach.

It’s an impressive pedigree, for sure. Patterson’s father, Ben Patterson, was Pontotoc’s head baseball coach from 1980-98, winning 474 games and two state titles. And his grandfather, Guy Bush, pitched in the major leagues for 17 seasons, compiling 176 wins.

So when Adam Patterson got into coaching, he set out on a baseball path. After graduating from Mississippi State, his first job was as head baseball coach at West Union.

Two years later, he was looking to return to his home county, and the only opening he could find was as South Pontotoc’s softball coach.

“Actually, I think I was the only person that applied,” Patterson said.

It’s worked out for all parties involved. This past season, his 13th leading the program, South Pontotoc won the Class 3A state championship.

Patterson, the Daily Journal Softball Coach of the Year, quickly learned the differences between baseball and softball.

“No. 1, I had to learn the pitching part of it,” he said. “I had to learn how to get away from a baseball mentality and use things like the bunt more effectively. It took me a couple of years to learn that, because I thought you could just come in and do it like baseball. But it’s not the same.”

Everything comes together

Patterson had strong teams early on, but the Lady Cougars never could get over the hump and reach the state finals – until this year. They beat Choctaw Central in a tightly contested three-game series to claim the program’s first title.

“I didn’t have to beg them to come to practice and play hard,” Patterson said. “I had a pitcher that worked exceptionally hard.”

That pitcher is sophomore Allyson Harrison, who pitched every inning in the playoffs, including all 25 innings of the finals.

Patterson deserves his share of credit, too. His in-game coaching decisions were a big reason South Pontotoc beat last year’s champ, Houston, in the state semifinals.

The Lady Cougars employed the bunt to great effect against Houston ace Paige Kilgore, who was nearly unhittable, in the series-clinching win. That sort of strategy is something Patterson learned over the years, and it’s a testament to how he has become a student of the game.

“The more I’ve learned,” he said, “the more fun it gets.”

brad.locke@journalinc.com Twitter: @bradlocke

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