West wins South State championship
By By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
May 8, 2001
The West Lauderdale Knights never seem to run out of answers.
Monday night in Collinsville they answered the question of how they would react in the face of adversity, staring elimination dead in the face against a strong Greene County Wildcat team.
And one Knight in particular didn't answer the question quietly of how he would bounce back from a rough outing against this same club.
Instead, he leaned back and screamed it.
West ace Todd Doolittle rebounded from a subpar effort in the opening contest of the Class 3A South State Championship series to subdue the Wildcats in the third and deciding contest with 10 strikeouts and two hits.
It paved the way for a 4-0 win that propelled the Knights into the championship series that will get underway this Thursday at 6 p.m. at Independence, the site of the 3A North Champ, which defeated Ripley in its third game Monday.
Doolittle (13-0) was a dominating force on this night, bringing a flavorful blend of offspeed and heat, with fastballs that peaked at 92 mph and curves that set down batters in the neighborhood of 74.
The senior had obviously been stewing about the 11 hits he gave up in the series opener, as nine of his first 11 throws clocked in at 86 or above.
The legendary coach also shouldered the blame for the 2-1 loss on the road over the weekend.
To their credit, the Wildcats (24-12) didn't give their hosts many opportunities either, but the ones West did happen upon, were capitalized on by playing small ball.
In the midst of a scoreless tie, the Knights finally got things going in the fourth inning when Josh Snider and Doolittle led off the frame with a pair of bunt singles.
Then Brad McKee stepped up and banged out a triple that plated the baserunners.
After Van Wilson walked Trent Posey stepped up and laid down a nifty sacrifice bunt that brought in Wilson, before Ryan Clay followed suit to finish the game's scoring.
With a comfortable lead, Doolittle then proceeded to strike out six of the next nine Wildcats he faced, including the final two outs to put his own personal stamp on the contest.
Greene County head coach Scott Bray, who saw his season end to the same team last year, said his opponents did the better job of making their own breaks.
McIlwain, who showed strong signs in the first game, struck out five and set down the Knights in order all game long, save for the fourth. He allowed just three hits in defeat.
Bray also praised the Knights penchant for piecing hits together when they needed them.
And now, the only thing keeping the Knights from once again being the best team in Mississippi is two more wins.
No. 2 hurler Ryan Clay is tentatively slated to go in game one in Independence.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. You can call him at 693-1551, ext. 3234 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.