When the Latta coach Jim Foster and Tupelo coach Jason Goostree scheduled Tuesday night’s contest, they both knew it would be a good opportunity to work the kinks out right before competing in a slow-pitch softball regional tournament.
After the host Lady Panthers — ranked No. 2 in Class 4A — dropped a 3-1 decision to the Lady Tigers (No. 4 in Class 2A), it appeared Latta had the most wrinkles to iron out.
Tupelo (27-9) scored all three of its runs in the top of the third inning during which Latta committed three of its five errors in the contest.
A rejuvenated Sulphur Lady Bulldogs squad — which started the season winning just four of its first 19 games before going on a recent 8-3 surge to improve to 12-18 on the spring heading into its 5A Regional Tournament in Purcell on Thursday — was a late addition to the mix at Latta on Tuesday. Sulphur promptly defeated Tupelo 6-3 before knocking off Latta 6-4 in the nightcap. Details of those two contests can be found in today’s Softball Capsules.
In the loss to Sulphur, Latta (23-8) committed six more errors.
“We wanted to use these games as momentum builders, and it didn't work. We came out flat and played flat. We’ll have to play a lot better Thursday if we want to play next week,” Foster said.
Tupelo 3, Latta 1
The Lady Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second, but if not for a nice defensive play by the Lady Tigers, it could have been a much bigger inning.
Siera Green, Devin Lyon an Madison Abney hit consecutive singles to start the second and load the bases with no outs. Shelbey Parnacher then hit a sacrifice fly to left-center field that was deep enough to allow Green to score from third base. Brianna Hanson then reloaded the bases with a blooper to left field.
However, Tupelo escaped further damage when third baseman Kelsie Warner scooped up a ground ball off the bat of Nicala Price and fired to second to start a nifty 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Kate McCoy led off the Tupelo third by beating out an infield hit and went to second on a groundout. Grace Leland then reached on an error and Kayley Sanders was safe and drove in a run after another infield hit. During that play, Latta tried to throw Leland out at third but the ball sailed past the bag, allowing the second Tupelo run of the inning to score. Shanna Davidson then made it 3-1 with an RBI double. Landra Nelson walked to put runners at first and second but Siera Green — Latta’s pitcher — avoided further damage when she coaxed back-to-back flyouts to end the inning.
Tupelo used a pair of nice defensive plays in the third and fourth innings to help keep Latta off the scoreboard.
Casey Lefever led off the third with a base hit before Cheyenne Crews hit a hot shot back up the middle that deflected perfectly off Nelson’s glove to Sanders at second base. Sanders then stepped on the bag at second and fired to first to complete Tupelo’s second double play of the contest.
Carlee Henderson — who has been on a hitting tear for the Lady Panthers over the past couple of weeks — hit a shot to left field that glanced off the glove of Tupelo’s Aspen Collins. But Davidson, Tupelo’s rover, was right there to pick up the ball and gun Henderson down at second to turn a potential leadoff double to a single and an out.
After the Lady Panthers bunched four hits together in the second inning, they managed just four more singles over the last five innings.
Latta avoided trouble in the top of the fifth when Henderson made a nice sliding catch down the left field line in foul territory of a line drive by Leland for the first out of the inning. Sanders and Davidson followed with back-to-back hits but an infield fly and a fielder’s choice ended that Lady Tiger threat.
Tupelo loaded the bases in the seventh on McCoy's third single of the game, a one-out double down the left field line by Leland and a two-out walk to Davidson but Nelson popped out to third to end that uprising.
McCoy finished 3-for-3 to lead Tupelo at the plate while Sanders and Davidosn had two hits each.
Latta got singles from eight different players.