St. Patrick take 4-2 win at Wesson in 3A softball semifinal opener

Published 11:16 am Friday, May 10, 2024

You could tell from the jump that the opening game between Wesson and the visiting St. Patrick Fighting Irish from Biloxi would be a close one.

The Cobras (24-5) and the Irish (22-12) both looked like they were charged with a bit of nerves in the early going of their MHSAA 3A semifinal opener. 

Ultimately, the visitors from St. Pat made just a couple more plays than the homestanding Cobras in a 4-2 win that give the Irish a 1-0 lead in the softball series. Game two will be played on Friday at St. Patrick with a 6 p.m. first pitch. If a third game is needed, it will be played at Wesson on Saturday.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The game was the first home loss of the season for coach Michelle Nunnery’s Wesson squad. There was a large crowd ringing the field, as students sat on truck tailgates parked along the street overlooking the diamond, thankful for the shade from the heat provided by the nearby trees. 

St. Patrick struck first, as leadoff batter Tara Nasakaitis got on via a walk and then stole second and third. A sacrifice bunt by Elizabeth Colson scored Nasakaitis to put the Irish up 1-0.

The St. Patrick defense looked shaky in the bottom half of the first. Pitcher Alee Bennett dropped what looked like a routine popup by Wesson freshman Preslee Newman.

Newman gained second via a steal and then scored when senior Julianna Wilson smoked a ball to the second baseman that was played for an error.

Bennett was able to get the final out needed to end the inning with the score tied 1-1 and with Wesson leaving two runners on.

Wesson senior pitcher Mallory Sanders faced the minimum of three batters in the top of the second with three straight strikeouts.

St. Patrick threatened in the third, with runners at second and third and senior Brooklyn Mitchell at the plate. Mitchell, a Mississippi Gulf Coast CC signee, hit what looked like a little blooper over the Wesson infield.

Eighth grade shortstop Kenslie Carter was on the ball from contact and ran past second base to make the catch over her shoulder that ended the inning.

The jolt of momentum of that play carried over to the next inning for the Wesson bats.

With two outs, Wilson reached again via an error and moved up to second when Wesson eighth grader Madelyn Sanders was hit by a pitch. 

Mallory Sanders delivered an RBI single that scored Wilson from second. Sanders battled off an inside pitch that connected with the end of her bat and dropped along the left field line, just beyond a charging outfielder.

That run put Wesson ahead 2-1 and had the Cobra fans on their feet.

The middle portion of the game breezed past as Sanders got a line out, a strike out and a ground out to finish the top of the fourth. Bennett responded with two fly outs and a strike out to start the fifth. 

Sanders and the Wesson defense responded with a strike out and two groundouts to get Wesson through the top of the fifth inning. The bottom of the fifth went equally as swift, as Wesson went strike out, ground out and ground out to finish the frame.

It was in the top of the sixth when St. Patrick took the lead back for good. Duprey reached via an error to start the inning.

Back-to-back singles then filled the bases with Irish.

St. Patrick scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball and then bunted in another score later in the inning for a 4-2 advantage.

There were relief pitchers staying loose for St. Patrick through the final three innings, but the Irish stuck with Bennett. She ended up striking out three, walking two and giving up two unearned runs on two hits.

Sanders struck out 10 and walked just one batter, she allowed seven hits and two earned runs. Sanders threw 92 pitches while Bennett threw 94 pitches.

St. Patrick owns five state softball championships all time, with the most recent coming in 2018 for the school that was founded in 2007.

Wesson last reached the final four of the softball bracket when the Cobras were a 2A team in 2013, that year they were swept in south state by Enterprise-Clarke

Mantachie (29-5) beat Kossuth (25-4) 3-2 on Thursday in game one of the 3A North State championship series. The winner of that matchup will play the winner of the Wesson, St. Patrick series next week for the 3A title in Hattiesburg.