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Late home run dooms Itawamba’s upset bid

FULTON – With one swing of the bat, Itawamba AHS' upset bid of defending state champion West Lauderdale crumbled.

Carsyn Mott smashed a two-run home run in the fifth inning that stood as the game-winning hit in a 3-2 win for the Knights in Saturday night’s Game 3 of the Class 4A North half finals.

Layla Owens allowed only three runs on four hits in the circle for Itawamba, but that was enough for West Lauderdale to head to Hattiesburg.

“We expected to be back (at the state championship series),” West Lauderdale head coach Jake Loper said. “I thought we had a really good team. It’s just a matter of us making plays and getting the timely hit. Definitely proud of them and ready for Tuesday.”

Itawamba (31-5) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning. With two outs, Itawamba loaded the bases, and Fischer Short smacked a two-run single. West Lauderdale (33-4) answered with a run in the fourth before Mott’s two-run dinger in the fifth.

“I knew I had to get a job done,” Mott said. “We’re down, so I’m trying to just keep it simple, keep my hands to the ball and just make contact with it. Then I did it, and then I didn’t think it was going, but it carried.”

With a stellar night from Breelyn Cain, 4A’s Miss Softball, in the circle and Mott’s heroics at the dish, the Knights had huge performances from two seniors who were on the verge of playing their last game together.

“Next year, me and Breelyn will have to go against each other, and it’s just – every moment I get to play with her is even better,” Mott said. “Because when that time ends, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Itawamba has enough returning talent from its underclassmen to make another run next year, but that doesn’t make this loss any less painful, especially after winning Game 1 and holding a lead in Game 3.

“When it’s time to get back going, we’ll use this as motivation,” IAHS head coach Jeffrey Mann said. “Let it sting a little bit and use this experience next year. That’s something that we don’t have. We’ve never been here before, and next year we’re not going to be able to say that.”

Extra Bases

Big Inning: Mott’s two-run home run in the fifth gave the Knights a 3-2 lead it wouldn’t surrender.

Big Stat: Itawamba left two runners on base to end the game.

Coach Speak: “I want to thank the reporter that came here Friday for that (dumb) heading, because that’s definitely the reason we just won tonight.” – Loper