Softball – Clash of the 3A Titans, Again

Read more about the slow-pitch playoffs in Tuesday’s Daily Journal.

Mooreville and Nettleton are both trying to get to Jackson. Both coaches think the best way to do that is to forget Jackson altogether.

The teams will meet again Tuesday night in the Class 3A North finals, a best-of-three series at Mooreville (6 p.m. start). The foes split the regular-season series – Nettleton won 6-3 on Aug. 30; Mooreville triumphed 9-2 on Sept. 18 – and Nettleton captured the Region 2-3A title. This is a rematch of last year’s North finals, which Mooreville won in two games en route to the state championship.

The Lady Troopers own four slow-pitch titles, while Nettleton has none.

“I think they are definitely more experienced as far as big games,” Nettleton coach Dana Rhea said, “but this isn’t Jackson. If we get to Jackson, that might come into play, but this is North state, this is Nettleton and Mooreville, and that’s the way we’re looking at it.”

These teams are too evenly matched for either to look ahead. Plus, the schools are mere miles apart, both located in Lee County. Their familiarity with each other makes focusing on the now that much more imperative.

“These kids aren’t thinking about going to Jackson,” Mooreville coach Rex Berryman said. “We’re thinking about not losing to Nettleton, and they’re thinking about not losing to Mooreville. I think we’re just trying to survive this round, and whatever happens after this happens.”

Pontotoc’s turn? The Pontotoc Lady Warriors battle perennial power New Hope at home in the 4A North finals. This is the farthest Pontotoc has ever been in the postseason.

“New Hope has won six of the last seven state titles. That’s where we want to be,” coach Phil Webb said. “Our girls want to get out there and make a name for themselves this year. The last few years, we’ve been close.”

Pontotoc has six seniors, and its offense is led by big boppers Lori Crudup and Brooke Denton. What the Lady Warriors have to do is what New Hope likely will – make the easy plays, the ones that will cost you exponentially in the playoffs.

“We have been able to make the routine plays a little more consistently this year,” said Webb. “Any time you do that in slow-pitch, you’re going to have a chance to win.”

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