By Tony Tsoukalas / Sports Writer
The Meridian Star
The Southeast Lauderdale softball team punched a ticket to the second round of the Class 3A playoffs, beating West Marion 10-0 and 15-4 in consecutive games Tuesday night.
Shortstop Denisha Knight led the way for the Tigers, batting 5 for 6 with two home runs and seven RBI's on the night, including a grand slam in the second inning of game two.
“Knight was great offensively,” Southeast coach Mack Fanning said. “She also made some plays at the shortstop position as well. She played really well tonight.”
The Tigers got off to a somewhat scary start, as West Marion loaded the bases with two outs in the first inning of game one. However, Southeast pitcher Taylor Powell was able to pitch her way out of the jam, getting Sissy McNeese to pop out to end the inning. From then on, Powell would continue frustrate Trojan hitters, keeping them off balance and producing easy outs. Powell complete the shutout in game one, before limiting West Marion to three unearned runs in the second game.
“I thought Powell pitched extremely well for us,” Fanning said. “The last play of the game, when she reached over, picked the ball up and ran to first, that's what we coach. You can talk about it all night long, but until you do it, when you see that, you know you got something.”
The Tiger batters jumped on West Marion early and often, finding gaps in the defense and scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning to take a commanding lead to Game 1. Knight added her first home run of the night in the third inning to increase the lead to 4-0, as the Tigers rolled to an easy win in Game 1.
In Game 2 it was much of the same for Southeast. The Tigers jumped off to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first, as Nancy Williams propelled Southeast with a two-run blast over the left field wall.
Knight connected on a towering grand slam in the second inning as part of a six-run top of the second, and before the Trojans knew it they were in a insurmountable 10-0 hole.
“I really saw us coming together as a team,” Knight said. “We were doing what we usually do, coming out here to play and getting straight to the point.”
Fanning said he could not imagine having a better performance from his team to start the playoffs. Southeast advances to Saturday’s second round where they will play either Forest or Franklin County.
“We kept scoring all throughout the game, and we played excellent defense,” Fanning said. “In the second game, there was a little bit of a lull in the field for us, I don't know what it was, but things worked out pretty well for us today.”