Lady Dogs move to state
By By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
April 25, 2004
There's little in life as valuable as experience, and that applies to fast-pitch softball as well.
Clarkdale is an old hand in the world of fast-pitch with numerous state championship appearances, while Philadelphia is an up-and-coming program.
The Lady Bulldogs used their experience to take 4-0 and 5-2 wins to sweep the Class 1A/2A South State championship series Saturday afternoon at Clarkdale.
The Lady Bulldogs will face Desoto Central Thursday at Southaven in the first game of the best-of-three state championship series. The second and third game, if necessary, would be at Clarkdale on Saturday. Desoto Central, 25-8, swept defending Class 1A/2A state champion Mooreville 1-0 and 7-4 to take the 1A/2A North half championship Saturday.
"You've got to get there before you can win it and we wanted to get there again," Clarkdale head coach Rick Roberson said of reaching the state title series. "We're always glad to have the opportunity to play for a state championship. You never get tired of it.
"I'm real proud of these girls. This will be their sixth state championship to play in. That's quite a feat for our young ladies.
"Philadelphia's got a good ballclub. They came prepared to win and they battled us. I thought we played good when we had to play good. We got a couple of big hits and Emily (Howard) threw well.
"Both teams played good defense. Neither team hit the ball especially well, but that may have had something to do with the pitching.
"It was a good series."
Howard (19-3) tossed a five-hit shutout in the opener and came back with a six-hitter in the second game.
The Lady Tornadoes, who finished 20-7, loaded the bases with one out in the top of the first inning in the opener, but were unable to score.
"That's a trademark of Clarkdale," Philadelphia head coach Mike Luke said. "That's their experience once again coming to the surface. I can't say anything but praise for coach Roberson and his staff and their young ladies. They've been there. Last year, we didn't make the playoffs and this year this team made it here, and who would have thought it?
"It was two very competitive games that we were in until the very end and also our starting third baseman (and leadoff batter Candace Griffin) got sick on us. We had to re-do the lineup card."
Philadelphia's nerves showed early as seventh grade starting pitcher Shelby Smith (14-4) was unable to get out of the first inning after issuing four walks and hitting one batter as Clarkdale took an early 2-0 lead.
Clarkdale added a run in the third as Sabrina Woodall reached on an error and scored on a double by Alissa Bye.
Howard stranded runners at second and third in the top of the fourth to preserve the 3-0 lead.
The Lady Bulldogs added another insurance run in the fifth as Megan Potate reached on a two-out error and scored on Bye's second double of the game. Bye was the game's only multiple hitter and had three RBIs.
In the second game, Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third as Shanese Hunter walked and scored on a fielder's choice by Shenique Brass.
Clarkdale tied the game in the bottom of the third as Brandi Wright singled, swiped second, and scored on a two-out error.
The Lady Bulldogs claimed the upper hand for good with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Howard opened the frame with a single and Woodall reached on a fielder's choice that saw both runners reach safely. Potate doubled home courtesy runner Chasity Roberts. Bye struck out on a pitch in the dirt, but Woodall scored when the Philadelphia catcher threw to first to retire Bye. A fielder's choice by Ashley Bye made it 4-1 as Potate crossed the plate.
Howard singled with two outs in the fifth and Roberts scored on a single by Woodall.
Philadelphia got one run back in the top of the sixth and threatened to do more damage. Smith reached on an error to start the inning and pinch runner Shawanna Boyd scored on Erin Breland's double that took a bad hop over Kimbo Seale in left field. Howard left the bases loaded when she induced an infield grounder to Woodall at first base for the third out.
Clarkdale finished with eight hits with Howard going 3-for-3. Potate was 2-for-3 with a double. Philadelphia had six hits with Breland going 2-for-3. Breland and Smith both had a double.
Breland (4-1) got the loss.