Lady Cougars tighten grip on Division 5

By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
April 11, 2001
DECATUR Mack Fanning knew he could put a lock on the Division 5 fast-pitch title with a win here Tuesday night.
So when it came to the decision of whether to start senior ace April Bufkin for the second straight night against rival Clarkdale, Fanning went with his gut instinct.
Bufkin tossed her second complete game in as many days, and Newton County scratched out a pair of late runs to knock off the visiting Lady Bulldogs 5-3.
The win, coupled with Monday's 7-3 win at Clarkdale, improved Newton County to 25-2 overall. The Lady Cougars are 12-0 in division play and have all but mathematically wrapped up the regular-season crown.
All of the division's other teams have at least three losses, and Newton County's four remaining division games are against opponents who are out of contention. The Lady Cougars host Choctaw Central today.
Clarkdale, which visits Union in a must-win situation for both of those teams Thursday, is now 25-8 overall and 10-3 in division play.
The Lady Bulldogs didn't go easily Tuesday night, however, getting a gutsy performance on the mound from sophomore JorD'an Orr (6-4) and actually out-hitting NCHS 5-3 in the pitching duel.
Newton County grabbed a 3-1 lead after two innings despite getting just one hit a bases-loaded, two-out, two-run single from freshman Dominique Mapp.
Clarkdale got one of those tallies back in the third, then tied it in the fourth when head coach Rick Roberson's gamble of sending a runner to the plate after a routine groundout paid off.
The Lady Bulldogs stranded a pair of runners in the top of the fifth, and Newton County didn't waste any time taking advantage.
Betsy Clark reached on a fielder's choice, then stole second with two outs. Eighth-grader Lindsey Little was inserted as a pinch runner for Clark, and Little scored the go-ahead run when Shelly Ferguson's liner made its way into left field.
Newton County got an insurance run in its half of the sixth when Krissi Harris reached on a bunt single and later scored on a fielder's choice.
The hits by Mapp, Ferguson and Harris were the only ones allowed by Orr, who gave up just two earned runs.
Clarkdale got a 2-for-3 performance from Megan Potate and hits by Ashley Satcher, Casey Meador and Dana Allsup. Potate also scored twice.
Bufkin, who has thrown 230 pitches the last two nights, ran her mark to 17-1 by striking out six and allowing just two walks and two earned runs.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rhigginbotham@themeridianstar.com.

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