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Three keys to Lawrence County vs. Kosciusko — Wins will come with strong, focused play

The Lawrence County Lady Cougars will face the Kosciusko Lady Whippets in the state softball championship beginning today at 4 p.m. at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. Game 2 will be played Friday at 4 p.m. Game 3 will follow, if necessary.

Early runs

There are so many nerves flowing in a state championship series the team that grabs an early lead will have every opportunity to come out with a game one victory.

That’s going to be imperative for both teams — to get off to fast and early starts, and if either team can put up a crooked number in the first few innings then they’ll have a clear advantage.

That’s much easier said than done, but it’s something that both teams will likely attempt to do so that their pitcher can get some early run support.

It’s much easier to pitch with a lead, especially in a state championship series, and while both teams have elite front-line starting pitching, if either team can put together a few base hits or a few free passes, it’ll go a long-way in determining the winner of game one.

Routine plays

Lawrence County has an extremely athletic defense, and that helps out tremendously when the ball is put in play.

On Tuesday night against Newton County that was a key in game three as the Cougars made play after play to propel them to a 4-3 10th-inning win and into the state championship series that starts today.

That’s going to be another key to victory throughout the contest — the team that commits the fewest errors on such a big stage.

Big games are often decided by a few precious runs, and the team that doesn’t allow runs to be given away will likely be the team that finishes No. 1 in the state.

The Lady Cougars have shown throughout the season that they’re athletic enough to make plays on the defensive side of things, and if that continues over the weekend they’ll have a real chance to come away with a state title.

Pitching

In softball, so much rides on having the ability to dominate from the pitcher’s circle, and both Kosciusko and Lawrence County have that.

Josey Nations was dominant for the Cougars against Newton County in games one and three, and her not giving up an earned run in regulation in game three is a big part of why the Cougars won their first South State title.

The Whippets are solid on the mound as well, as they have a team ERA under two.

If both pitchers are throwing strikes and are in the zone in a consistent fashion, it’ll be tough for both teams to score a ton of runs. That’s where making routine plays and maximizing opportunities on offense comes into play for both teams.