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Newton County downs New Hope at tourney

By Staff
QUICK TAG – Newton County High School's Joy Cavenaugh tags Meridian High School's Ashley Brown out at third during Saturday's Meridian Community College High School Invitational Softball Tournament.
Photo by Carisa McCain / The Meridian Star
By Rocky Higginbotham / special to The Star
Sept. 29, 2002
Two of the five defending slow-pitch softball state champions were on hand Saturday for the prestigious Meridian Community College high school tournament.
And through a last-minute schedule change, they were able to meet head-to-head in arguably the best game of a long day of competition at the Sammie Davidson Complex.
Newton County got a game-ending double play to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh inning, and the eighth-ranked Lady Cougars beat top-ranked New Hope 9-7 in a classic that held the attention of teams and fans from games already completed on the other three fields.
The matchup was created when one team from both New Hope and Newton County's respective pools dropped out of the tournament. But while New Hope coasted to a title in the loaded Pool 4 bracket against West Lauderdale, Northeast Lauderdale and Petal Newton County dropped its first two games with sluggish performances before catching fire late in the day.
In the day's finale, the defending Class 3A slow and fast-pitch state champion Lady Cougars got a pair of home runs from Kristin Chaney.
Her two-run homer in the third inning tied the game at 4-4, and her three-run homer in the top of the fifth put Newton County ahead to stay.
New Hope was down 9-7 and had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the seventh. But Newton County third baseman Dominique Mapp took a ground ball, stepped on the bag and fired to first for a game-ending double play.
Mapp, Chaney and Joy Cavenaugh all had two hits for Newton County. Laura Lee Holman, Jenna Hale and Courtney Gordon each had a pair for New Hope, which has won the last two Class 4A titles.
New Hope, Meridian, Union and Neshoba Central each won their respective pools, and the most impressive performances of the day may have come from Union and Neshoba.
The only Class 1A school in the 18-team event, Union blanked its four opponents in Pool 2 by a combined score of 58-12. The Lady Yellowjackets smacked Class 5A Columbus and beat Class 3A schools Southeast Lauderdale, Choctaw Central and Greene County.
Neshoba, on the other hand, ran its winning streak to 10 games by knocking off Clarkdale, George County, Poplarville and Tupelo in Pool 1. The unranked Lady Rockets are now 16-4, and are the only team besides Newton County to knock off New Hope this season.
Meridian won Pool 3 with a head-to-head tiebreaker nod over Harrison Central. The Lady Wildcats beat Harrison 3-1 in a nine-inning thriller and wound up 2-2 in the event, with their other win coming over Newton County.