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WL mounts comeback at Poplarville

By By Tony Krausz / ssistant sports editor
Oct. 22, 2003
POPLARVILLE Forget calling the West Lauderdale High School slow-pitch softball team by its traditional mascot's name of the Lady Knights, just call this squad the comeback kids.
For the second time in a row, the Lady Knights dropped the first game of a best-of-three series in the MHSAA playoffs on Tuesday only to come back and win the next two games.
West Lauderdale captured the 3A South State championship over the Poplarville High School Lady Hornets, posting wins of 13-1 and 15-14 in the second and third games of the series. The Lady Hornets won the first game 20-18 in 10 innings.
It was only fitting that the series would end in the glove of Lady Knights first baseman Katie Moulds.
With Lady Hornet runners one first and third, West Lauderdale pitcher Sommer Jones induced Poplarvilles Erica Harris to ground out to second baseman Morgan Gullette.
Gullette easily flipped the ball over to Moulds for the force out and a trip to the 3A State Championship Series against Corinth. West Lauderdale is the defending champion, defeating Kossuth last year.
Moulds had given the Lady Knights their first lead in the deciding game, after a 1-0 advantage at the top of the first, by smashing a two-run homer over the center field wall in the sixth inning.
The first baseman's round-trip blast gave West Lauderdale a 12-11 lead.
Poplarville tied the game at 12 in the bottom of the sixth, but West Lauderdale tacked on three runs in the top of the seventh, with an RBI single from Jones and a two-run single by shortstop Holly Herrington. The Lady Knights scored all three runs with two outs in the seventh.
The Lady Knights would need every run the got in the top of the inning, as the Lady Hornets scored twice before West Lauderdale could put the game away.
Right fielder Kristi Lantz went 4-for-5 for the Lady Knights, with one RBI, in the third game, and Jones went 3-for-4, with two singles, a double and three RBIs.
Poplarville second baseman Brittany Nelson led the Lady Hornets' offense in Game 3 going 3-for-4, with a single, a double, a triple and five RBIs, and left-center fielder Brittney Pigott went 2-for-4, with two RBIs.
In the opening game of the series, West Lauderdale committed its eighth error of the first game at the most inopportune time.
With two outs and the Lady Knights clinging to a two-run lead, Poplarville's Jesse Stockstill popped up a 1-2 offering in the infield.
The ball slowly drifted over to the third base side of the field before bouncing off a West Lauderdale infielder's glove, allowing Stockstill to reach base safely.
The error also allowed Lady Hornets second baseman Brittany Nelson to score from second base to cut the Lady Knights' lead to 18-17.
Poplarville tied the game at 18 with its next at bat, as left fielder Bridget Hannaford ripped a single to right-center field to bring home Jackie Magee.
Hannaford struck again for the Lady Hornets in the bottom of the 10th inning. Following a lead-off single, Poplarville's left fielder hit a homer over the left-center field wall for the win.
The Lady Knights appeared to have the game in hand entering the bottom of the seventh inning.
West Lauderdale took an 18-12 lead into the final inning on the strength of back-to-back solo home runs from Lantz and Jones to lead off the top of the eighth for a 16-12 advantage.
The Lady Knights notched two more runs in the inning on sacrifice flies from left-center fielder Ashley Helms and right-center fielder Kayla Eubanks. Helms went 3-for-4, with five RBIs, and Eubanks went 4-for-6, with six RBIs, a single, a double and a homer, for West Lauderdale in Game 1.
Hannaford ended the first game in the bottom of the 10th with a two-run homer over the left-center field wall for the win.
West Lauderdale bounced back in the second game run-ruling Poplarville in five innings.
After scoring one run in the bottom of the first, the Lady Knights ripped off 11 hits for 11 runs in the second inning of Game 2.
Lantz had a two run double; catcher Katie McAllister hit a two-run single; Helms hit two RBI singles; and Gullette, Jones, Moulds and Eubanks each had RBI singles in the second inning that gave the Lady Knights a 12-0 lead.
West Lauderdale will meet Corinth for the 3A state title on Saturday, with the first two games scheduled to start at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. A third game will be played at 3 p.m., if necessary.

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