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Lady Cats fall to Madison Central

By By Laurence Hilliard / special to The Star
Oct. 16, 2002
MADISON The Meridian slow-pitch season came to an end Tuesday night, the result of 7-6 and 7-4 losses to Madison Central in the opening round of the MHSAA 5A state tournament.
Meridian is a three-time winner of the state championship, in 1994, 1996, and 1999, the latter two with George as head coach.
Winning pitcher Miriam Bell singled home the winning run for Madison Central in the bottom of the seventh of the opener, ending a game that saw the lead change hands three times. Laura Bowles gave Meridian a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when she lined a shot over the head of leftfielder Josie Manley and circled the bases for a home run.
The Lady Jags responded with two runs in the first and one in the second for a 3-1 lead. Meridian came from behind twice to tie the score, at 3-3 with two runs in the third and 4-4 with a single run in the fourth. The Lady Wildcats took a 6-4 lead in the sixth on a two-out, two-run single by Natalie Cole. But Madison Central tied with it two runs in the bottom of the sixth and won it on Bell's clutch hit in the seventh, a line single to center.
Madison Central led the entire way in the second game after scoring a run in top of the first and two in the third for a 3-0 lead. Meridian cut it to 3-2 in the third on a single by Artesian Boyd, a double by Raven Williams, a ground out and a sacrifice fly by Erin Murphy.
After Madison Central scored once in the fourth, Meridian pulled within one again on a long triple to center by Carsheena Blanks and a single by Valerie Sherman.
With two outs in the same inning and runners at the corners, Artesian Boyd hit a fly ball down the left field line that Manley dropped as she crossed the foul line. The plate umpire called it foul, despite a protest by George, costing Meridian at least one run. As the third base coach, George was considerably closer to the play than the umpire and argued to no avail that the ball was in fair territory when it was touched. "Maybe that was just my biased opinion," he said. "But that's the kind of thing you have to play through if you're going to win."
Boyd then flew out to end the inning.
Meridian, which was runnerup to Brandon in Division 4, finishes 15-13. Madison Central, the Division 2 champion, goes on to the next round of the playoffs with a 21-5 record.
Ebony Ball had a triple and two singles in the opener and a triple in the nightcap for Meridian. Blanks had three singles and a triple in the doubleheader, Sherman three singles and a double and Bowles a single and homer, both in the first game.