Lady Tigers crank up offense in playoff sweep of Natchez High Tuesday

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 31, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; If Moss Point finished second in its division, you’d really got to wonder about the team that won it.

The Lady Tigers were more than Natchez High could handle Tuesday, and they rolled off with wins of 11-1 and 14-2 to advance to the Class 5A South State semifinals against the winner of the Meridian-Picayune series.

Moss Point, a three-time defending state champ, put up big innings early in both games, including an 11-run first in the second game to help sweep the series.

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&uot;We didn’t come ready to play, and they came bringing their guns,&uot; Natchez head coach Leigh Anne Mason said. &uot;They’re a well-coached team and well-disciplined. The easy ones they did hit we made errors on. All we can do is look to fast-pitch now. I hope they all come out for fast-pitch and do well.&uot;

The Lady Bulldogs had a few errors that kept things going, but Moss Point put up 10 hitters that scattered line drives all over the outfield. The Lady Tigers (18-4) scored six runs in the third inning of Game 1 to take a 7-0 lead, and any momentum from a fired-up speech between games was moot when their first 10 batters to the plate scored in their first at-bat of the Game 2.

&uot;This is probably the most consistent we’ve been hitting the ball in quite a while,&uot; said MP head coach Brenda Lewis, whose team split with Biloxi and was squeezed out of the title on run differential. &uot;They really did a good job hitting the ball today. When a team is in a situation like Natchez found itself in, you’ve got to come out strong and establish the upper hand. That’s something we worked on. We did a real good job today &045; an excellent job.&uot;

The Lady Bulldogs had their best inning in the third when it had its best rally going, but they found out quick how sound the Lady Tigers were defensively. After singles from Wennifer Noble and Mable Green put runners on first and second with two outs, LaToya Patterson launched one over the outfielders’ heads in left center to score Noble and Green.

But the throw came in from the outfield in a hurry, and Patterson was thrown out by a long shot at third to end the inning with power hitters Tracy Davis and Krystal Arnold on deck.

&uot;Their defense was just outstanding,&uot; Mason said. &uot;Their third baseman and shortstop were sitting there asking for the ball to be hit to them. That’s what you’ve got to have in the infield. But we just didn’t have it today.&uot;

In the next inning Davis led off with a double and was nearly thrown out from left despite taking just a couple steps off the bag on Krystal Arnold’s flyout. In the second Ashley Mitchell led off with a single, but the Lady Tigers erased that when Ashley Wood grounded out to shortstop for a double play.

&uot;That’s something we work on,&uot; Lewis said. &uot;That’s something we work on every day &045; hitting the cutoff and making plays. The key to that is people being in the position to make the play and then to make the play.&uot;

The Lady Tigers exploded for the 11 runs in the first inning off Arnold to take the quick lead and had consecutive two-run hits from Terica Burns and Reva Willard to fuel the rally. Burns singled in Ashlee Monroe and Shayla Dickerson for a 4-0 lead, and Willard followed with a two-run double for a 5-0 lead.

Aggressive baserunning following an error on a ball hit by Ashley Wells brought Willard home and put Wells at second, and the Lady Tigers loaded the bases when No. 10 hitter Elizabeth Richardson singled. Wells scored on DeMiracka Biggs’ sacrifice fly, and Chardetta James singled in two runs for a 10-0 lead.

Nettles singled in James before Monroe was thrown out at third to end the inning.

&uot;Krystal was pitching flat,&uot; Mason said. &uot;We worked on her pitching arch, and she didn’t have her arch today. Cacey (Champlin) stepped in and pitched pretty well. I don’t know if it was just Krystal (in the first). Once a team starts hitting on you, they rip and rip and rip and nothing you do seems right. You dig yourself in a 10-0 hole in the first inning against a team like Moss Point, you’re not going to come out.&uot;