Ethel scored eight runs in the first two innings before cruising to a 14-4 win and a sweep of Resurrection in the third round of the Mississippi Class 1A softball playoffs Tuesday.
The Tigers advance to the South State finals against either Sebastopol (18-4) or Bogue Chitto (19-7). In a battle of Bobcats, Bogue Chitto won the opener 6-0.
“It means a lot,” coach Beth Thompson said of the Tigers making a return trip to the South State champions. “Last year was our first year of ever making it past the first round. It’s really huge for us.”
Three Resurrection errors in the first inning helped set up Ethel’s four-run first inning.
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“We started off really well,” Thompson said. “We executed when we needed to. We had several bunts that we laid down and we stole bases well.”
“They did a good job hitting the ball,” Resurrection coach Brenda Lewis said. “They are a very experienced team and they did a good job at the plate. (The Tigers) are very capable and do an excellent job of hitting the ball.”
Lewis noted Resurrection settled down after the first two innings, but the Eagles (14-10) were down by six runs, 8-2, at that point.
“We were inconsistent hitting the ball today,” Lewis said. “We made several errors early that got us off early. But we settled down a little after the first inning. But we were too inconsistent batting to make a comeback.”
Resurrection had just five hits on the afternoon, with singles from Daja Cowan, Drewnae Pickens, Icy Walley and Emily Denmark. Shayla King slapped a two-run triple in the fifth that fell just short of the fence, allowing the Eagles to force a sixth inning and cutting the Ethel led to 13-4.
Brooklyn Pitt led the Ethel hit parade with three hits, a double and two singles, and drove in three runs. Sidney Rone and Kambine Hodges added two hits each for the Tigers.
Despite the Eagles’ season ending in the third round, Lewis said it was very successful.
“We were very inexperienced this year and made it a lot further than a lot of people thought we would have,” she said, noting the Eagles are very young and lose just two starters — Walley and King — from this year’s team. “We got off to a rough start, but grew up a lot during the year.”
She said the success of this year’s Eagles team held promise for next year.
“(Walley and King) leave big shoes to fill,” Lewis said. “But what is coming up is very capable.”