By ZACK McMILLEN
SPRINGVILLE — The Pontotoc Lady Warriors opened up their fast pitch softball season Tuesday night at rival South Pontotoc.
The Lady Cougars were hoping to improve to a 4-1 on the season, and behind good pitching and an explosive sixth inning, South beat Pontotoc 8-2 in a hard fought game.
The Lady Cougars grabbed an early 2-0 lead in the bottom half of the first inning.
Pontotoc pitcher Brooke Denton got off to a good start by striking out lead off batter Jala Parker, but it didn’t take long for the Lady Cougar bats to start hitting the ball.
CeCee Austin stole second and advanced to third on a Heather Whitworth double to center field. Denton then walked Tonya Mooneyham.
With the bases loaded, freshman Jade Hancock hit a single to right field to bring home Austin and Whitworth.
Denton then settled down and got the next two Lady Cougar batters out to end the inning.
“They have a really good ball team and their pitcher is top notch,” Lady Cougar head coach Adam Patterson explained. “I also thought we got good pitching from our eighth grade pitcher (Cameron Mize) tonight. She changed up her speed and threw strikes.”
Mize continued to pitch well by holding the Pontotoc offense scoreless again in the second inning, while Denton did the same for her Pontotoc squad.
In the third inning, however, the Lady Warriors were able to shrink the deficit to 2-1 when Ereca King hit a line drive triple to center field and later got home on an Alyssa Farr sacrifice groundball.
Pitchers Denton and Mize each pitched a scoreless fourth inning.
Mize continued her assault on the Lady Warriors offense by throwing another scoreless and no hit fifth inning, but Denton was unable to follow suit.
With one out, Jala Parker pounded the ball to center field and then sprinted around the bases for a homerun to stretch the South Pontotoc lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Then, after Cecee Austin was thrown out at first base, Heather Whitworth got on first with a single to set up the next Lady Cougar run.
Mooneyham drove home Whitworth by smacking the ball to left field for an RBI double.
Mooneyham’s RBI put the score at 4-1 entering the sixth inning.
In the top half of the sixth inning Pontotoc attempted to make a comeback.
With two outs and no one on base, Brooke Tedford knocked the ball over the right fielder for a triple.
Then the Lady Warriors cut the lead in half when junior Kacie White’s RBI single brought Tedford home and put the score at 4-2.
However, that would be the last time Pontotoc would cross home plate.
In the bottom half of the sixth, South Pontotoc’s bats got hot and they were able to put up four more runs.
With one out, sophomore Hope Clair was able to get on base with a single and then came home when Tiffany Aston smacked an RBI double to center field.
Later, with two outs and Aston still on base, Parker pounded the ball to deep left field. Parker outran the throw home for an inside-the-park, two-run homer.
Austin had the same intentions when she too pounded the ball to the out field and ran the bases for back-to-back Lady Cougar home runs.
“The sixth inning was big,” Coach Patterson explained. “Jala Parker and Cecee Austin really hit the ball hard.”
In the top of the seventh inning, Mize sealed the game by striking out three of four Lady Warrior batters for an 8-2 victory over their rivals.
“They hit the ball and we didn’t,” stated Lady Warrior head coach Rhonda Denton.
“We let them get ahead and then we made errors. It was like a domino effect and we just kept going down.”