Lady Tide aims for title

Published 4:31 pm Friday, October 14, 2011

For the fourth time in the past eight seasons, Picayune has made it to the state slow pitch softball state championship round.

And for the third time in that span, perennial state power New Hopes stands in between the Lady Tide and history.

Picayune and the Lady Trojans will face off in a best of three series at the V.A. Fields in Jackson beginning at 11 a.m. The Lady Tide swept West Harrison Tuesday 9-3 in nine innings and 11-3 for the South State title, while New Hope did the same to homestanding Neshoba Central, winning 15-5 and 8-7.

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The Lady Tide stands 18-6 entering the title round, while the Lady Trojans are 23-7. New Hope has won 13 slow pitch state titles overall, including four straight and six of last seven, starting with a sweep of Picayune in 2004.

The Lady Tide is seeking their first ever state title in any major girls sport.

“After we got beat last year, we thought we should have a good chance of getting back if everything went right for us,” veteran Lady Tide head coach Kristi Mitchell said. “And now that we’ve got that chance, we plan on doing everything we can to bring a state championship back to Picayune.”

Picayune got a big three run home run from Tee Myers in game one and a big three run shot from Sarah Dodd in game two against the Lady Hurricanes. Myers also added a solo homer in the second game.

“We are going back up there to get what we should have gotten last year,” Dodd, who in addition to being one of the Lady Tide’s top hitters is the ace pitcher as well, said Mitchell. “This is where we wanted to be, with another chance to win it.”

And to no one’s surprise, the Lady Tide will get another shot at the Lady Trojans.

“They are probably the top slow pitch program in the  state year in and year out,” Mitchell added. “we know what we are facing.”

Lauren Holifield launched a walk-off three-run home to left-center field in the bottom of the seventh inning in game two for New Hope on Tuesday. Holifield has played a key role in the past four titles, and she did more than her share on Tuesday going 9-for-9 with eight RBIs in the two wins.

On Saturday, Holifield smacked three home runs and drove in 10 runs in a doubleheader sweep of Yazoo City in the first round of the Class 5A North State playoffs

In game one on Tuesday, New Hope used a six-run second to break the game open and steal the momentum heading into the second game. Lead-off hitter Kaitlyn Bradley had three hits and two RBIs in that win, and Holifield added two doubles and drove in four as New Hope banged out 18 hits.

But the Lady Trojans found themselves down 7-4 going into the bottom of the seventh inning in game two before rallying for the win.

“It  was a great, great example of not giving up,” New Hope head coach Tabitha Beard said. “We had every reason to get down in that game. We came out flat, we couldn’t catch, they turned some double plays, and they got some calls that went their way and sort of got us out of it in the beginning. But they fought, and they kept fighting, and that’s what they’re going to have to do. That was an amazing thing.”

In the opening round sweep of Yazoo City, New Hope won 20-0 and 18-2 and tallied 37 hits in the twinbill.

“We have had big players step up,” Beard said. “We have had younger players and older players do a great job and make some outstanding plays. We’re going to have to have those great plays on those big fields (in Jackson) to be successful.”

Opening ceremonies will kick off the festivities at 10:30 a.m., and then the games will begin.