Natchez tops Cathedral to start fall season

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; The rain was steady. The mud was thick. And the bats were inconsistent.

You’ve got to start the season somewhere.

Natchez High’s Lady Bulldogs jumped all over Cathedral early with 12 runs after two innings before riding out a 12-8 win Tuesday at the Natchez-Adams Softball Complex.

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While battling the inclement weather and a soggy infield, both teams were able to get some work in offensively but realize there’s still a ways to go.

&uot;They came out hitting like I told them I wanted them to, but they died off after the second inning,&uot; Natchez High head coach Leigh Anne Mason said. &uot;We’ve got to know how to hit for five, six and seven innings. I think they kind of got satisfied. But we scored seven runs in the first two innings, and they were line-driving it. I’m proud of them. They did a good job.&uot;

Natchez tacked on seven runs in the first inning and five in the second before firing blanks after that against the Lady Wave, who did the exact opposite. After a four-run second, Cathedral didn’t really get anything going at the plate until the seventh inning when it scored three runs and ended the inning with two runners stranded.

Jordan Chandler had a two-run triple to score Laura Huffines and Kate Reid, and Emily Stevens singled in Chandler before Mattie Smith grounded out back to pitcher Krystal Arnold to end the game.

&uot;I was very pleased with my girls,&uot; Cathedral head coach Cloyce Hinton said. &uot;Natchez High scored all their runs in the first two innings, and then we shut them out. We started hitting the ball, came back and scored eight runs. With us being down like that, I was very pleased. We’re right at where we thought we would be this early in the year.&uot;

Natchez took a 12-4 lead after the second inning but didn’t get but one runner past first base after that when Tracy Davis reached second on an Arnold single. Hinton stayed with freshman pitcher Brandi McGraw the entire contest, and she &045; like the defense behind her &045; settled down a bit after catching a case of the nerves early.

&uot;You get down 12 that quick and to come back &045; it showed a lot of character of the girls to stay in there,&uot; Hinton said. &uot;I saw confidence in some of the girls coming up there. We made a couple of baserunning mistakes tonight, but it’s good to play Natchez, Lawrence County and Franklin County so we can see what we’re doing wrong and get it corrected.&uot;

Natchez kept with Arnold on the mound, who was solid early before yielding the scoring late. A miscue on a bases-loaded grounder by Kate Reid scored Mattie Smith to cut the lead to 12-5, but Arnold got Leighton McDaniel to line out to third to end the inning.

Pitching, however, wasn’t the only thing Arnold did. She had four hits, including a two-run double in the first, to pace the Lady Bulldogs at the plate.

&uot;She was throwing the ball well and throwing strikes,&uot; Mason said of Arnold, who threw in place of Tosha Davis. &uot;She had four or five strikeouts, and that’s unbelievable for slow pitch. Slow pitch is a hitting game. There weren’t many errors, but there were some mental errors (on defense). We’ve got to work on backing each other up and playing the gap. That’s something we’ve got to work on.&uot;

Natchez scored seven runs in the first inning thanks to a barrage of singles. The first six batters to the plate scored, and the first five batters scored in the second inning for a 12-4 lead as Arnold had another RBI double.

Tara Gillespie singled in a run before Mable Green grounded out to end the inning.