Lady Tide wins South State

Published 3:29 pm Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Picayune is returning to the state softball championship for the first time in five years.

The Lady Tide dispatched visiting Brookhaven in three games Tuesday, winning the Class 5A South State championship. Picayune will now face either New Hope or Pearl in the state championship Saturday in Jackson.

The Lady Tide lost the first game Tuesday 4-2, before roaring back to take the final two games from the Lady Panthers 8-1, and 13-2.

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“I think our inexperience at not being this far before with these girls hurt us the first game,” Lady Tide head coach Kristi Mitchell, whose team is 24-5, said. “That was the first game we’d lost in a while, but we responded real well and I think our growth and maturity over the past few years was a reflection of that tonight.”

Picayune trailed 2-1 in the third inning of the third and final game, but sent 14 batters to the plate and scored nine runs in that frame to take control.

“Courtney tells the girls all the time that in slow pitch softball you have to hit the ball because teams are going to score runs,” Mitchell said, referring to current Lady Tide assistant coach Courtney Dickens who played for the Lady Tide the last time they made it to the state finals. “I told them after the first game it was time to respond, and they did.”

Hillary Dickens, Courtney’s sister, had a two run home run to give Picayune a 3-2 lead. Millie Gill and Tiffany Devore also each had a two run double, while Beth Crawford, Jennifer Walker and Tee Myers each drove in runs as well.

Walker then put an end to the game in the fifth when she smacked a three run homer to make it 13-2.

• In game two, the Lady Tide wasted no time in taking control as they scored four runs in the top of the first.

Sarah Dodd and Clarissa Jones each had run scoring singles, while Brooke Ladner had an RBI-double as well and came around to score on an errant throw.

Jones, Millie Gill, Jessica Rancifer and Tee Myers later added run scoring singles and Shalyn Stevens scored a run as well.

Dodd picked up the pitching decision in all three games.

Neither the Lady Tide or the Lady Panthers, who were the defending Class 5A South State champs, had lost a playoff game through the first two rounds.

“Our moto has been to survive and advance,” Mitchell added. “Courtney told them that the second game is always the hardest to win.

“I am very proud of the way they came back after being down. Now we just have to continue to work towards winning two more games.”