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From Staff Reports
Greene County High School’s softball team will take on Newton County in Round 3 of the MHSAA Playoffs in a best-of-three series beginning Friday at home.
Newton County defeated Purvis 11-5 on Tuesday in a decisive game three in that series. The win boosted the Cougars’ record to 24-3.
The Lady Wildcats took care of business on the road at Poplarville Monday evening, claiming a 7-2 win over the Lady Hornets to complete a sweep of the round two series and advance to this weekend’s 4A series.
Game one of the Round 3 series will be at GCHS on Friday. First pitch is tentatively set for 6 p.m. Game two is set for Saturday at 6 p.m. in Decatur. Game three, if needed, would be back at Greene County, tentatively on Monday.
Late surge puts Lady Cats on top over Poplarville
The Lady Cats’ win was a much bigger nail biter than the final score would indicate as the two teams battled to a 2-2 tie through the first five innings. GCHS got a little breathing room with a go-ahead run in the top of the sixth and slammed the door on Poplarville’s hopes of a comeback with four runs in the seventh.
First-year head coach Kyle Long would have preferred a less exciting game, but said he was proud of the way his team battled through adversity to earn a hard-fought win.
“We had talked to the team about how we knew we were going to get Poplarville’s best shot and that is exactly what we got,” Long said. “I am so happy with the way our team continued to compete and found a way to earn the win.”
“It wasn’t a perfectly-played game, but we came up with big plays in big moments.”
The Lady Cats got things started in the first inning, taking a 1-0 lead when senior Taylor Brewer doubled to drive in freshman Shanna Johnson, who had singled for the first GCHS hit of the game.
Poplarville answered with a 2-out rally to plate two runs in the bottom of the second. The 2-1 margin, which was the only time the Lady Hornets led in the two games, was short-lived. Freshman Zamiah Knight tied the game in the top of the third when she turned a base hit bunt into an inside-the-park home run after an overthrow to first base also got past the Poplarville right fielder.
The game remained knotted at 2-2 over the next three innings. Poplarville took advantage of a couple of GCHS miscues and had runners in scoring position with less than two outs in each of those innings, but each time, GCHS found a way to make a play to put a zero on the board for the home team.
Freshman Kambrie Lawrence belted a 2-out double in the top of the sixth to score Johnson and put the Lady Cats back up 3-2. Two strikeouts by Brewer and a pop up to center field retired the Lady Hornets in order in the sixth. After a leadoff pop up to start the top of the seventh, GCHS rolled out five straight hits, including a double by freshman Lilly Rau and a triple by senior Breeze Jordan, to push the lead to 7-2 heading into the final frame. Brewer’s ninth strikeout of the game and two solid plays by Jordan at third sealed the win in the bottom of the seventh.
“We had a couple of defensive plays that were huge for us,” Long said. “Lilly (Rau) made a great throw to catch a base runner trying to steal third, Shanna (Johnson) made a big catch to rob them of a key hit and Breeze Jordan had a couple of solid plays, including a tough play to get the first out in the bottom of the seventh.”
“And, Taylor (Brewer) pitched really, really well for us and worked out of a couple of jams. Of course, seeing the bats come alive with five straight hits in the seventh innings was big too.”
Lady Cats ride early lead to game one win
Long’s team used a hot start to earn the win in game one at home on Friday.
GCHS scored five in the first inning and added two more to carry a 7-0 lead into the third in that matchup. The Lady Cats scored in every inning but the sixth, while Poplarville made it interesting with a 3-run fourth inning sandwiched between single runs in the third and fifth.
GCHS outhit the visitors by a 10-5 margin and took advantage of three Poplarville erros, while limiting their own miscues to just one. Brewer went the distance in the pitcher’s circle, striking out six along the way, compared to four walks.
Knight and Johnson led the way offensively for the Lady Cats in the series. Knight was 5-of-6 at the plate over the two games with four RBIs and four runs scored. Johnson finished 3-of-7 with five RBIs and four runs scored.
Brewer helped out her cause with two timely hits and two runs driven in. Lawrence rounded out the box score leaders, finishing with two extra-base hits, three RBIs and a run scored.