STARKVILLE — Lake’s strategy going into the Class 2A state championship series with Mantachie was to give the Lady Mustangs what they didn’t like or expect.
That’s exactly what the Lady Hornets did as they banged out 13 hits and took a 12-4 win over the Lady Mustangs on Wednesday at Nusz Park on the campus of Mississippi State. On Thursday, the Lady Hornets clinched the championship with a 6-3 win.
The Lady Hornets, now 29-7, banged out a season high 13 hits against freshman pitcher Ramsey Montgomery, who entered the game with 264 strikeouts. It started in the first inning when Lake plated two runs and led 6-1 after three innings.
“I think we came up with big hits when we needed them and small ball was pretty big for us today,” Lake coach Jake Loper said. “We made plays when we need to and I still think we can play better defensively when we need to. It was a big game and a lot different atmosphere than we are used to. The infield is like a brick. There are some tough hops and have to fight through that and find a way to win.
Loper said he thought his team’s ability to put pressure on the Mantachie defense was the difference in the game.
“We are fast and athletic and when we showed it they seemed to not really like it a lot.” Loper said. “So we just kept on doing it. We talked to some people and they said they didn’t like it a whole lot so I kind of like to give them what they don’t like.”
While the Lady Mustangs were struggling with the bunt, they also had a hard time timing up Lake pitcher Kate Gladney, who kept them off-balance with a steady diet of changeups. Loper said he figured most people would be expecting the hard-throwing Duncan in Game 1 but decided to throw Kate Gladney, who pitched all seven innings and picked up the win.
“Everybody would think that we were going to bring Duncan and they were going to want to be on time with her,” Loper said. “So I felt like giving them something they weren’t expecting. We have two pitchers that I trust to win us the game so my thoughts were let’s make their pitcher throw a lot of pitches. I thought by doing that we might have a good shot.”
Lake finished with five runs in the top of the seventh to take the win. Laniesha Palm, batting at the bottom of the lineup, was 3-for-3 with an inside-the-park home run, three runs scored and four RBIs. Abbie McGee was 3-fr-5 with a double and two RBIs while Taylor Duncan was 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs. Brantlee McGee was 2-for-4 while Katlyn Lott scored two runs.