Lady Cougars stun Poplarville

Published 11:45 am Tuesday, April 29, 2014

DAILY LEADER / MARTY ALBRIGHT / Lawrence County pitcher Elizabeth Smith prepare to delivery her pitch against Poplarville Monday.

DAILY LEADER / MARTY ALBRIGHT / Lawrence County pitcher Elizabeth Smith prepare to delivery her pitch against Poplarville Monday.

MONTICELLO-The Lawrence County Lady Cougars stunned the Poplarville Lady Hornets 9-4 in the first game of a best-of-three second round playoff series that will conclude Tuesday night.

After spotting Poplarville a 2-0 lead with 2 unearned runs in the top of the first, LCHS responded by scoring 9 straight runs to take control of the game and, for one night at least, control of the best-of-three series. Poplarville, coached by Jonathan Ray, entered the series with a lofty record of 22-1-1. The series moves to Poplarville on Tuesday night, with Game 2 beginning at 5 p.m. Game 3, if necessary, will follow shortly thereafter.

“This was a great win for our team,” said Lawrence County coach Mark Howard, who is in charge of the Lady Cougars while his wife, Meleah, is on maternity leave. “But, it’s only one win, and it takes two to win a series and move on. We’ve got to go to Poplarville tomorrow and play well, if tonight’s win is to mean anything.”

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Howard’s Lady Cougars improved to 23-4 on the season. Lawrence County advanced to the second round by beating Quitman in a best-of-three series over the weekend. That series went the full 3 games.

After 2 LCHS errors helped Poplarville to grab its brief lead, Lawrence County bounced right back with 3 runs in the bottom of the first. After Alyssa Pendergrass reached on an error, sisters Alexsundria Thomas and Jazmin Thomas had back-to-back singles, with Jazmin’s hit driving in 2 runs. Jamie Martin capped the inning with a booming double that plated the Lady Cougars’ third run.

Holding a slim 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth, right fielder Callie Fortenberry triggered another 3-run inning for the Lady Cougars, starting a big rally with a 1-out single. After a walk to Pendergrass, the Thomas sisters had consecutive RBI hits.

In the bottom of the fifth, pinch hitter Maddux Kirkland and Fortenberry got 1-out singles. With 2 out, Alexsundria Thomas and Jazmin Thomas again had RBI hits. The Lady Cougars had a 9-2 lead.

A double by Maryah Davis plated 2 runs for Poplarville in the top of the seventh, but the Lady Cougars and hurler Elizabeth Smith were in control all the way. In 7 innings, Smith scattered 9 hits and struck out 9. Smith walked only 1 Poplarville batter.

Alexsundria Thomas, Jazmin Thomas and Fortenberry led the 12-hit LCHS attack with 3 hits each. Martin added 2 hits and Kirkland had 1.

“We swung the bats well tonight,” Howard said. “We got big nights out of our 2, 3, and 4-holes, and Callie had a big night down in the 9-hole. She serves as sort of a second leadoff hitter, and she had some key hits tonight.”

Maryah Davis led Poplarville with 2 hits. Camryn Pierce pitched a complete game for the Lady Hornets. She allowed 12 hits and struck out 1.

“Poplarville has a fine team,” Howard said, “and we know they’re going to fight to the bitter end. We’re happy to be 1-0, but we know we’ve got quite a challenge in front of us down in Poplarville.”