By Rocky Higginbotham / Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
Newton County advanced to the MHSAA Class 4A South State Championship Series in slow-pitch softball by sweeping Purvis in a best-of-three playoff series Saturday. The Lady Cougars won 12-3 in the opener, then took a 13-0 win to complete the sweep at Mack Fanning Softball Stadium.
The Lady Cougars, who are now 24-4 overall, will visit rival West Lauderdale for the best-of-three, South State title series Tuesday.
Newton County 12
The Lady Cougars banged out 18 hits and never trailed in taking a series-opening win.
Newton County scored three times in the third inning and twice in the fifth. Purvis (14-7) got all three of its runs in the top of the fourth to get within 5-3, but Newton County answered with three in the home half of the fourth and put the game away with four more runs in the sixth.
Nine players had hits for Newton County, with Darby Bishop going 3 for 4 with a double, triple, two runs and three RBIs and Shea Alexander going 3 for 4 with a double and triple to lead the way.
RoNeisha Brown was 2 for 3 with a double and three RBIs; Savannah Gates was 2 for 3 with a double and two runs; winning pitcher Meagan Higginbotham was 2 for 3 with two runs; Ashton Lampton and Shelby Barrett each added two singles; and Hannah May and Lindsey Savell each added base hits.
Madison Morgan had a two-run homer, Reilly Holcomb was 2 for 3 with a triple and Breanne Gamble had a double to lead Purvis.
Newton County 13
In their second contest, Newton County played errorless defense and took control early.
The Lady Cougars, the visiting team on the scoreboard in Game 2, scored three times each in the first and second innings and finished the game by the mercy rule with a five-run sixth.
This time, 10 Lady Cougars had base hits, with RoNeisha Brown going 2 for 3 with a home run, two runs and four RBIs to lead the charge.
Lindsey Savell was 2 for 2 with two RBIs; Shea Alexander was 2 for 4 with two runs; Darby Bishop was 2 for 3; Ashton Lampton was 2 for 4 with two runs; Shelby Barrett had a double and two runs scored; Ashley Gressett was 1 for 1 with two RBIs; Hannah May had one hit and two runs scored; and winning pitcher Meagan Higginbotham and Savannah Gates both had hits.
Purvis, which finished 14-8, got two base hits each from Madison Morgan, Donna Slade and Kacie McRaney.