October 3, 2013
win North crown
Come playoff time, it’s often best to simplify things.
“Just keep knocking the teams off one by one,” coach Marcus Moore told the Marshall Academy softball team last week.
The Lady Pats did just that in the North A Fast-Pitch Softball Tournament – downing all four foes they faced to claim the championship.
And that “knocking teams off” theme continued in the first two rounds of the Class A State Tournament Saturday. MA moved into state semi-finals Monday of this week with wins over Sylva Bay and Union Christian.
The Lady Pats hoisted the North State title trophy Thursday of last week in Carrollton, knocking off defending state champion Benton 9-4.
The Lady Patriots had sent Benton to the losers’ bracket in the second round of the tournament on Monday, Sept. 23, after downing Deer Creek in round one.
“They (Benton) were forced to play two games in a row (Thursday) to get back to us for the championship,” coach Carlton Gibson said.
Benton made the decision to sit their senior pitcher in the first game of a possible two in the finals, in hopes of forcing another contest for all the marbles.
It didn’t work.
Marshall jumped on the new pitcher and scored nine runs in the first inning.
“After that, it was like we settled for nine runs,” Coach Gibson said. “We (the coaches) were not happy with the effort at the plate the next six innings.”
Kat Moore led the offense, going four for four from the plate. Darcie Gibson, Hannah Pasco and Erin Lomenick each went two for four.
Gibson pitched the complete seven innings, scattering seven hits and striking out seven.
It’s the Lady Patriots’ first North crown since 2008.
MA advanced to the championship contest with a 4-0 win over fellow District 1-A member Tunica Thursday.
“Tunica surprised a few teams and ended up in the semi-finals,” Coach Moore said. “It is hard to keep beating a team that you have beaten three times. Our bats were sluggish but we were able to pull out the win.”
No one had multiple hits. Getting a hit each were Moore, Maura Autry, Alaken McNeer, Hailey McMinn and Lomenick.
McNeer pitched the full seven innings, giving up only two hits and striking out six.
The Lady Patriots started the State Tournament Saturday in fine fashion at Center City Park in Pearl – a 9-6 win over Sylva Bay.
“This was a revenge game,” Coach Gibson said. “Sylva Bay had sent us home the last two years.”
MA jumped out to an early 1-0 lead but it was short-lived when Sylva Bay scored four runs in the second.
With no outs, Coach Moore decided to make a pitching change.
“Alaken (McNeer) started the game but Sylva Bay was hitting her pretty good so we moved Darcie (Gibson) to the circle,” he said.
Gibson pitched the remaining six innings, scattering five hits and allowing two more runs.
The offense was pretty consistent throughout as Marshall scored in four of the six innings. Six players picked up multiple hits – Moore, Alexis McGreger, Gibson, Hayleigh Mason, Autry and McNeer.
In round two at state, McNeer had a strong performance on the mound and Moore sparked the offense as the Lady Pats beat Union Christian 7-5.
“We were eager to play Union Christian,” Coach Gibson said. “They have been ranked number one most of the year and we wanted to see where we stacked up. It was a hard-fought game but our girls took advantage of their miscues and turned them into runs.”
McNeer pitched all seven innings, scattering nine hits and fanning four.
“Alaken (McNeer) pitched a great game and showed senior leadership when we needed her,” Coach Moore said.
Moore had a three for four showing from the batter’s box. McNeer also had a pair of hits.
The Lady Pats, sporting a 32-7-1 record, were slated to take on Franklin Academy Monday morning in the State semi-finals with the finals set for that afternoon (after the deadline for the newspaper’s sports section).
Marshall Academy’s last state title in softball also came in 2008.
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