SENATOBIA – The Starkville Academy softball team reached the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA state tournament for the first time in five years by winning a pair of games Wednesday at the North State event.
The Lady Volunteers, who improved to 20-10 overall, began the day by rallying to defeat host-school Magnolia Heights 4-2.
After Magnolia Heights scored a pair of runs in the first inning, Starkville Academy came back to get all of its runs in the fourth.
Megan Picard and Bailey Wofford each singled to get on base, then Julianne Jackson drove them home with a double. Lauren Ware, who was given a start at first base by SA coach Jessica Dickens, hit a two-run home run to plate the other two runs.
The win over Magnolia Heights was considered a mild upset because the host school was the fourth seed and the Lady Vols were the fifth seed, but the fans in Senatobia hadn't seen anything yet.
Starkville Academy came back in the afternoon to knock off top-seeded Madison-Ridgeland Academy 2-1.
MRA scratched out a run in the third inning, but the Lady Vols came back with the deciding tallies in the seventh.
Mary Austin Barber, who had three singles in the game for SA, reached and was sacrificed to second base by Picard. Wofford doubled to bring Barber across the dish, then Jackson doubled Wofford in with the winning run.
With the two wins, the Lady Vols advanced to Saturday's winner's bracket finals. They take on Pillow Academy at 9:30 a.m.
"We did what we came to do, but I don't think we're satisfied," Dickens said. "I like the way the team continues to fight, come back and finds ways to win."