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Fast or slow doesn't matter, winning does

By By Marty Stamper
April 15, 2002
Many of Mississippi's high schools currently offer two softball programs for their female athletes slow-pitch and fast-pitch.
Colleges and junior colleges are solely fast-pitch with slow-pitch relegated to the intramural leagues. Some would like to see high schools go the same route. Others like things just the way they are.
Two area players that play both versions of the game, along with a veteran coach, were asked which of the two, if either, they favored.
Newton County went 34-3 and won the 2001 Class 3A state slow-pitch championship last fall. The Lady Cougars also won the 1992 state championship and were state runner-up in 1996, 1999, and 2000.
In fast-pitch, the Lady Cougars are 30-5 and in the second round of the 3A state playoffs. In the fast-pitch program's four years, Newton County is 107-20-1 with the 2000 team winning a state championship and the 2001 team advancing to the 1A/2A/3A South State championship series.
Junior Kristin Chaney plays shortstop on both teams at NCHS.
Chaney has played catcher before in fast-pitch.
West Lauderdale does not compete in fast-pitch. Meridian, Southeast Lauderdale, and Sebastopol are area schools which began fast-pitch programs this spring.
Marley Smith plays shortstop on Union's slow-pitch team and is a pitcher and shortstop in fast-pitch. The Lady Jackets were 26-7 in slow-pitch last fall, falling in the 1A South State championship series, and are currently in the second round of the 1A/2A fast-pitch playoffs with a 21-8 mark after going 21-4 last year.
Smith is 11-3 on the mound. Defense in fast-pitch takes more time to perfect as you have to know how to play for bunts as well as cover bases on steals.
Chaney and Smith also start on their respective basketball teams.
Smith, a junior, has been learning how to pitch since she was in the seventh grade when Union began its program.
One common thread runs through both sports.

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