All-Star softball team represents Natchez at State Tournament, finish third

Published 11:59 am Tuesday, June 27, 2023

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MAGEE — The Natchez Girls 8u All Stars finished third in the State tournament last weekend in Magee out of a field of 18 powerhouse teams from across the Magnolia state. The girls had just three weeks to work together as a team, the tournament started Friday night. 

The Natchez girls made quick work of the Florence All Stars in the opening game, dominating in early innings to secure the 14-2 mercy rule victory. Saturday morning started the double elimination bracket play. Natchez drew a tough bracket starting with the powerful girls from Petal who had made strong showing in many tournaments leading up to this pinnacle of youth sports tournaments. 

However, the Natchez bats caught fire early and despite a strong comeback attempt from Petal, their power hitters were no match for the golden gloves from Natchez as our girls secured another 9-3 win. Saturday afternoon they advanced further into the winners bracket to face the ladies from Clinton. 

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Natchez bats caught fire on offense and the laser throws and golden gloves on defense quickly dashed any hopes for Clinton to advance. Natchez quickly locked down a mercy run win at 14-1. 

Championship Sunday started out with Natchez facing the 2-time defending state champions from Neshoba who had won every game by excess margins over the weekend. The Natchez girls stepped up with no fear and took control of the game taking a commanding lead 7-1 in the early innings. However as the game went on the Neshoba bats heated up and the Natchez bats cooled down. Neshoba rallied to defeat our beloved girls 12-8, putting our Natchez girls in the losers bracket to fight back. 

Facing elimination, head coach Christopher Perry gave the girl a world class motivational speech before the win or go home scenario they would face the remainder of the day. A rematch from the previous day against a Petal team, who had already eliminated 2 teams before setting their sights on the upset rematch against Natchez. It was a slug fest filled with power hitting, record shattering defensive plays, and magnificent base running by first base coach Garret Gamberi and third base coach Justin Dollar. 

After time had expired our Natchez girls won again 8-5 advancing to a quarter finals match up against the feared ladies from Wesson. Natchez faced Wesson 2 weeks earlier in an elimination game in Brandon and Wesson destroyed the young team. The rematch opportunity fueled the Natchez girls desire to finish on top. Natchez bats were hot like the brutal 130 degree field temperatures they were playing in. 

Wesson, coming off their first loss, was also hungry for revenge and a chance to play in the semi finals. After Natchez scored 7 runs in the first inning, Wesson responded with a show of might in their own way. It was a back and forth battle for 6 innings, in a game made for televised audiences. On display were tremendous golden glove plays by the Natchez infield and outfield along with collegiate level clutch hitting. Again after time had expired the Diamond beauties from Natchez once again pulled off the upset and claimed a 16-11 win over the predicted favorite Wesson. 

Only 3 teams remained. The tournament’s favorite underdogs rose to crowd favorites. Natchez took on the two-time defending State Champions Neshoba, and previous weekend tournament champion, Columbia. Columbia is who Natchez would face to get a berth in the Championship. Playing their 7th game of the tournament in the heat equivalent to the desert sun, the girls stepped up with no rest to face the defending champions.

Despite a championship effort by our hometown heroes, they could not overcome the explosive hitting of a powerful Columbia team. The crowd roared as Natchez girls exited the field one last time with their heads high making our city and their families proud on the big stage. 

Over the course of the tournament the girls blasted a staggering 12 home-runs led by Maddi Perry who had 4, Locklyn Gann blasted 2, Molly Gamberi, Phoebe Godfrey, Sawyer Kate Dollar, Aubrey Collins and Lon’Dyn Johnson each slugged one homer. They were complimented by solid base hits by Charlie Anderson, Mary Collins Carter, and Caroline Knapp. 

Natchez had numerous golden gloves plays throughout the lineups with multiple pop ups and line drives were caught by Maddi Perry, Locklyn Gann, Molly Gamberi, Caroline Knapp, and Sawyer Kate Dollar in the infield. Dreams were robbed for opposing hitters as home runs were stolen in the air by outfielders Phoebe Godfrey and Charlie Anderson. 

Lon’Dyn Johnson and Aubrey Collins also made stellar plays and throws from the outfield to keep runners in check. Mary Collins Carter with one week of preparation played a phenomenal weekend as catcher throwing out runners at first and tagging out a runner at home along with stopping multiple runs from scoring at home plate with impressive relays from outfield.