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Fast-pitch playoff series enter second round

By By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
April 18, 2002
Just how good has Division 5-1A/2A/3A been in fast-pitch softball the last few years?
So good that the only three remaining area teams in the Mississippi High School Activities Association fast-pitch playoffs used to battle each other just to make the playoffs out of that league. Newton County, Clarkdale, and Union have waged some major wars just to survive in that division in the past.
This year, the MHSAA made Class 3A a separate classification, taking seventh-ranked Newton County out of the equation. While Clarkdale and Union are both still in 1A/2A, Clarkdale is in the South State, while Union is in the North half, leaving both plenty of room to wreak havoc.
This year, the three teams have combined for a 76-22-1 record with six of the losses coming in head-to-head meetings. That's a 77.3 winning percentage against everybody else.
Newton County swept two games from Union (6-2 and 8-1) and split two with Clarkdale (winning 9-0 and losing 6-4). Clarkdale took two early games from Union (6-3 and 10-8).
Clarkdale is the Division 5-1A/2A champion.
Clarkdale, 25-9-1, will face Sumrall, 11-5, today at 6 p.m. at Timberton Park at Hattiesburg. Game 2 is set for Saturday at 5 p.m. at Clarkdale with a third game, if needed, to follow.
Clarkdale swept Mize 10-0 and 4-1 last week, while Sumrall needed three games to get past Loyd Star, losing the series opener 9-8 before taking 5-2 and 9-8 wins. The Lady Bobcats rallied from a 7-0 deficit to take the third game.
Leading the Lady Bulldogs are pitcher Emily Howard, pitcher/third baseman JorD'an Orr, first baseman Ashley Satcher, catcher/shortstop Megan Potate, and second baseman Brandi Wright.
Brittany Stevens is 8-5 for Sumrall with the top hitters being Leslie Shumock and Janna Hutchinson.
Newton County, 30-5, will travel to Foxworth today for the first game of that best-of-three series with West Marion, 11-4. West Marion got past Collins in three games in the first round, winning 11-3 and losing 9-4 on Saturday before taking the third game 16-2 on Monday.
Division 5-3A champion Newton County hammered Morton 15-1 and 14-2 in its first-round matchup.
Game 1 is set for 6 p.m. today at West Marion with the second and third game, if needed, Saturday at Decatur with a 4 p.m. start.
Newton County coach Mack Fanning remembers when just making the playoffs was a struggle.
The Lady Cougars use four pitchers Joy Cavenaugh (10-1), Krissi Harris (7-3), Lauren Barrett (8-1), and Suzanne Chaney (5-0). Top hitters are Cavenaugh (3 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR), Harris (2 2B, 2 3B), third baseman Dominique Mapp (6 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR), first baseman Betsy Clark (6 2B), and shortstop Kristin Chaney (2 3B, 1 HR). Harris has been picked for the first fast-pitch all-star game this summer.
Union, the Division 4-1A/2A champion, blanked Houlka 7-0 and 8-0 in first-round action. The 21-8 Lady Jackets host Hamilton for a single game at 5 p.m. today with the 14-5 Lady Lions hosting the remainder of the series Saturday at 1 p.m.
Hamilton spanked New Site 8-4 and 17-4 in first-round play.
Top pitchers for Ricky Casey's Lady Jackets are Marley Smith (11-3) and Lindsey Cassel (7-4). Top hitters are Smith, Loren Kennedy, Lauren White (6 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR), and LaSaundra Harrison.