MHSAA softball playoffs roundup: East Webster takes first round series
MABEN – Dallas Ferguson realizes the road to a Class 2A softball championship will have plenty of bumps.
That said, Tuesday's first round playoff series against O'Bannon couldn't have been any smoother for the East Webster head coach.
Ferguson's Lady Wolverines pounded the Region 3 runner-up in a best-of-three set, sweeping the series by a combined score of 33-1.
East Webster (19-9), the Region 4 champions, won 16-1 in the first game and advanced further into the postseason with a 17-0 victory in game two.
"We're just hitting the ball right now," said Ferguson. "We picked a good time."
The Lady Wolverines packed plenty of offensive firepower on Tuesday, but no one's bat was as productive as Autumn Frost's.
Just an eighth grader, Frost was a combined 5-for-5 in the two games, delivering three home runs, one being a grand slam, and totaling eight RBI's.
Aside from Frost, East Webster's entire lineup made plenty of treks around the bases, and received aid from shaky O'Bannon defense, something Ferguson realizes won't happen as the playoffs carry on.
"(O'Bannon) made some errors and they should have caught some of the balls that we hit that should have been outs," said Ferguson. "This second round is going to be a different story. We've got to get it down and hit it hard because teams will play back on us and we've just got to hopefully hit it in the gap."
Frost didn't need any help from the O'Bannon defense in either game Tuesday.
In the first game, Frost hit her grand slam and added a single for a 2-for-2 performance.
Swayze Hollenhead also provided two hits in the opener, finishing 2-for-3 with a pair of singles.
Jernishia Ivy was just a round-tripper shy of hitting for the cycle, going 3-for-3 with a single, a double, and a triple.
In the second game, Frost added her two other homers and a double in a perfect 3-for-3 performance.
Cayley McClellan and Molly Davis each went 2-for-3.
Ferguson hopes the bats will stay hot as East Webster moves on to round two to face either Region 2 winner East Union, a squad that beat the Lady Wolverines earlier this season, or Region 1 runner-up and traditional power Hamilton.
"If we keep hitting, I think we will be fine," said Ferguson. "I hope we stay where we are supposed to be and not level off or anything. But you get down to playoffs and everybody has scouting reports and everybody knows where you hit, so it's going to be different."
The Lady Wolverines will begin second round action on Saturday.
While Ferguson realizes things only get more difficult from here, logic says a group of high school players could easily get overconfident after a pair of lopsided first round wins.
Ferguson says that won't be the case.
"The team knows what is ahead," said Ferguson. "When you hear Hamilton's name mentioned and East Union, the girls know it's going to get harder."
Eupora 11-5, Strayhorn 3-4
SARAH – Eupora swept past the first round of its best-of-three Class 2A playoff series Tuesday, winning games in two different ways.
First, the Lady Eagles took a lopsided 11-3 decision over Strayhorn, then followed that up with a 5-4 walk-off win to clinch the series.
"It took all of us today," said Eupora head coach Trae Embry. "We cleared the bench and used everything we had."
The Lady Eagles (15-11), the Region 4 runner-up, won the opener behind several big offensive performances.
Allie Steadman went 4-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBIs.
Also going 4-for-5 and driving in a run was Lindsey Williamson.
Eupora saved the dramatics for the nightcap, ousting the Region 3 winning Lady Mustangs from the playoffs.
With the game tied 4-4 in the bottom half of the seventh, the Lady Eagles loaded the bases with one out, setting the stage for Hannah McDowell's game-winning and series-clinching single.
Much like game one, Williamson again aided Eupora's cause in the second game, going 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles.
Lexie Boykin and Sarah Grace Wade each had a pair of hits as well, while McDowell finished 2-for-4.
Eupora will begin the playoffs' second round on Saturday against Region 1 winner Mantachie.
Noxapater 16-14, East Oktibbeha 2-4
NOXAPATER – East Oktibbeha head coach Pam Roberts discovered this week that her Lady Titans were indeed playing in the softball program's first-ever playoff games on Tuesday.
Noxapater quickly made sure that Roberts and company wouldn't experience any more firsts this season.
In Class A, first round postseason action, the Lady Tigers defended their home turf in the best-of-three series, sweeping past the Lady Titans.
"We just couldn't get the sticks going," said East Oktibbeha head coach Pam Roberts. "But I'm still very proud of these girls. We're real proud of all our wins this season."
Coming into Tuesday's game, Roberts knew that Noxapater, the Region 6 winners, would be a solid team and that East Oktibbeha could ill-afford to give the Lady Tigers any extra chances. Unfortunately for the Lady Titans, that didn't happen.
Coupled with inconsistent offense, East Oktibbeha's season reached its conclusion.
"We just didn't field the ball the way we needed to today," said Roberts. "And when we did hit, we were able to hit it hard. We just couldn't keep it going."
Quanisha Doss and Alexis Chandler handled Tuesday's pitching duties for East Oktibbeha, and though their performances earned praise from Roberts, it wasn't enough.
The Lady Titans, who entered the playoffs as the Region 5 runner-up, ended their season with a 9-9 record.
"I just told the girls, we've got to leave (Tuesday's) games on the field," said Roberts. "I told them to look forward to next season, and look forward to going even further next year."