Yes, I’m blogging on something other than football on a Friday. Get over it.
But the slow-pitch softball playoffs are around the corner – they start Tuesday, Oct. 9 – and the most fascinating battle for the state championship can be found in Class 3A. In the North, you’ve got Booneville, Mooreville and Nettleton all with legit shots at going to Jackson and winning it all.
If past experience counts for anything, Mooreville’s won four state championships – neither Booneville nor Nettleton have one. But then, Nettleton’s been to the playoffs seven of the last eight years under coach Dana Rhea, and Booneville is the Daily Journal’s No. 1-ranked team and playing like it.
I’ll make a not-so-bold prediction (then again, anything can happen in slow-pitch): One of those three teams will be in Jackson, and I see that team winning it.
A quick handicapping of the respective teams:
• As mentioned, Booneville’s on fire. The Lady Blue Devils (22-4), coached by Tommy Fraiser, are led by big-time hitters Sara Beth Michael and Raven Combs. Fraiser said he feels his team is due to make a title run; everything is in place for it. Booneville can clinch the Region 1-3A regular season title with one more win.
• Mooreville (21-7) had a mysterious slump earlier this season but seems to have snapped out of it, having won eight of its last nine. That run started with a 9-2 defeat of Nettleton on Sept. 17. The core group of Lady Troopers that has been together so long – Jade Hankins, Ann Howell, Rachel Tally , et al. – won’t go quietly.
• That brings me to Nettleton (20-6), a different kind of team from the other two. As Rhea says, his squad has no superstars of the Combs or Tally variety. He’s got just two seniors and starts six, sometimes seven sophomores. But the Lady Tigers won the Region 2-3A regular season title, ahead of Mooreville. Their consistency – that Mooreville loss halted a 16-game win streak – will serve them well in the playoffs.