East Webster claims fifth fast-pitch softball state title

By Austin Bishop

The Webster Progress-Times

 

Turning points can be found in some interesting places.

In fact the key point of East Webster’s run to the MHSAA Class 2A Fast-Pitch Softball State Championship last weekend at Freedom Ridge Park in Ridgeland came in the middle of a loss.

After dropping Friday afternoon’s opener in the best-of-three series to Enterprise 6-3, the Lady Wolverines bounced back on Saturday to take a 6-5, 3-1 sweep to win the title.

But it was the way East Webster responded late in that Friday loss that gave the Lady Wolverines the momentum they needed to win a pair of games in the grueling heat on Saturday.

“There at the end of that first game we started to fight back,” said East Webster head coach Lee Berryhill. “They jumped out to a big lead on us (6-0), but we didn’t quit. I think the girls saw right there that they could play with them. I think we stole some momentum from them right then and that helped us on Saturday.”

It certainly did.

Alaina Hill placed a single just over a drawn-in infield in the bottom of the ninth to drive in the winning run in Saturday’s opener.

It was a game with tons of swings. East Webster scored three in the third — two coming off a two-run double by Autumn Frost — and one in the fourth to take a 4-0 lead, only to have Enterprise score five times in the top of the fifth to take the lead at 5-4.

Katie Gordon’s grounder drove in pinch runner Krista Ellis with the tying run in the fifth in the game that eventually went into a pair of extra innings.

It looked as if Enterprise was going to take the lead in the top of the seventh when Emmalee Roberts drove the ball deep to right, but Hill hauled in the fly ball with a running over-the-shoulder catch to end the inning and the threat.

“We just had so many girls make so many big plays,” Berryhill said. “They came to play this weekend and once we got our confidence, it showed.”

The deciding game was scoreless through six innings, with East Webster’s Bailie Springfield no-hitting the Lady Bulldogs of Enterprise until there was one out in the sixth inning.

After Enterprise’s Brittany Hagwood delivered a one-out single, East Webster left fielder Katie Gordon came up with a huge defensive play to end the inning. She nabbed a sharply hit ball by Blakely Riley, then came up firing and doubled Hagwood off first.

“That was a big play,” Berryhill said. “She has really come through for us down the stretch.”

And, she wasn’t through.

After the first two East Webster batters were retired in the top of the seventh inning, Hill smacked a double to center. Gordon then singled in Ellis with the first run of the game. Kendall Wilkinson and Mamie Hollenhead, who played an outstanding series defensively at third base for the Lady Wolverines, followed with RBI singles to put the Lady Wolverines up 3-0.

Enterprise picked up one run in the bottom of the inning, but it wasn’t enough.

“The girls just fought all year long,” Berryhill said. “I’m so proud of them. They had a chance and they took advantage of it.”

East Webster finished the season at 22-7 in claiming its first state tittle since 2009.