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Horne, Lady Wolves best Northeast

WESSON — The Co-Lin Lady Wolves captured the MACJC StateFastpitch Softball Championship Sunday afternoon with a hard-rough2-0 win over the Northeast Lady Tigers. This is Co-Lin’s firstfastpitch championship.

The win improved Co-Lin’s record to 34-7 on the year andNortheast fell to 31-21.

While Queen’s “We are the Champions” played over theloudspeakers, MACJC official Jim Southward and Co-Lin athleticdirector Gwyn Young presented the state trophy to the ecstatic LadyWolves.

With the win, Coach Allen Kent and the Lady Wolves earned theright to host the Region 23 Tournament this week. The tourneybegins Thursday and continues through Saturday. Joining Co-Lin,Northeast and East Central is LSU-Eunice.

It was Kent’s first state championship trophy in his four yearsat Co-Lin as head coach. “It’s very special to be able to win ithere in front of our home fans. This is the first time the hostteam has won the state tournament.”

If there were an MVP award, Co-Lin sophomore pitcher Emily Hornewould won it hands down.

For the third time in two days, the sophomore right-handerdirected the win from the mound for the Lady Wolves. Horne, agraduate of Sharpstown High School in Pearland, Texas, improved herrecord to 16-3, striking out 8 batters, walking one and allowing 6hits.

The big news was Horne finished the game in excruciatingpain.

In the fifth inning, Horne sustained an injury to her groinafter bunting and colliding with the NE first baseman. Shecontinued to pitch but was in severe pain after coming off themound in the top of the sixth.

Despite the pain, Horne returned to the mound in the top of theseventh. After the first batter grounded out, she allowed two hitsand struck two batters out to preserve the win.

With the final out, Horne doubled over again on the mound inpain as her teammates, on the field and in the dugout, came up tocheck on her. After seeing Horne was alright, the Lady Wolves allhad a long, loud celebration.

“I pitched OK,” said Horne who smiled through her pain in thedugout after the win. “Everything worked real well today.”

Kent could not say enough about Horne’s performance.

“Emily was just on today,” praised Kent. “This was such adraining performance by Emily in the biggest game of the year. Tostep up like that is just really huge. But she’s been doling it allyear. Erin Douglass was warming up to come in for relief, but Hornefinished them off.”

Following three scoreless innings, Co-Lin picked up a run in thebottom of the fourth for the 1-0 lead over Northeast. SophomoreJackie Stowe, a Delta State signee, rippled a triple toright-center field. On a wild throw to third base, the ball sailedinto the Co-Lin dugout as Stowe crossed home plate for the firstrun.

In the bottom of the sixth, Erin Douglass advanced to first on ainfield single. Sophomore Lauren Smith bunted to first, advancingDouglas to second who then stole third and home plate on anotherthrowing error by the NE infield. The Lady Wolves took a 2-0 leadand held on to claim the state championship.

“The girls have worked hard,” stated Kent. “They stepped it upbig when it counted. I can’t say how proud I am of each one.”

Adding support at the plate was Annie Selman with a double.Singling were sophomore Kaylin Burke, Allyson Wallace andHorne.

The Lady Rangers, coached by Jody Long, got a double and asingle from freshman Emily Mangum. Kim Pannell, Kelley Hankins andCrystal Ellis hit safely.

Kent explained that there was a chance the game might not havebeen played earlier that morning.

Due to Saturday’s rains and four played games, the field was interrible condition. Sunday morning. Kent, assistant coach JohnnyWilliams, the Co-Lin softball team along with 15 parents/fansworked on the field until the game started around 2:40 p.m. Theofficiating crew even commented to the Co-Lin players how well thefield looked.

If the field had been unplayable, Co-Lin and Northeast had twooptions. They could share the state title or let a coin toss decidethe championship. The Sunday morning hard work prevented that fromhappening.

“The girls worked hard today,” said Kent. “We had girls workingwith about 15 fans this morning, working on the field. If not forthat, we might not have played today. It means a lot to me.”