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Owens out-pitches Cain as Indians take Game 1

FULTON – Not only was Layla Owens facing the defending state champs, she was squaring off against the top player in Class 4A. Owens was unfazed.

The sophomore hurled a three-hit shutout, and Itawamba AHS beat West Lauderdale 2-0 in Game 1 of the 4A North finals on Thursday. Game 2 is Friday at West Lauderdale.

Owens out-dueled Breelyn Cain, who was selected as 4A Miss Softball for this season.

“Me and Breelyn have been in the running for that Miss Softball and 4A player of the year. She got it, and she deserves it, but I want it so bad,” Owens said.

Things got a little dicey for IAHS in the seventh, when Owens yielded a walk and a single to open the inning. She got a big play from her defense on a 2-3-5 pickoff, and she struck out the final two hitters to seal the deal.

Owens finished with 10 strikeouts and three walks.

“Curve was good, rise was good. She got a lot of pop-ups, a lot of flyouts and a bunch of strikeouts,” IAHS coach Jeffrey Mann said. “They couldn’t find the barrel.”

Cain had a strong outing, too, allowing just three hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. But the Indians (31-3) got to her in the third, when they scored both of their runs.

Courtesy runner Abri Alexander went from first to third on a Fischer Short bunt and then scored on Kooper Reese’s bloop single. Abbie Robertson followed with an RBI single of her own for a 2-0 lead.

“You’re not going to bang her off the wall,” Mann said of Cain. “You’re not going to put together four, five, six hits in a row. You’re going to have to take a walk, you’re going to have to get on base, you’re going to have to bunt, you’re going to have to take a steal.”

Extra Bases

Big Inning: Owens opened the third with a single to set up the inning.

Big Stat: West Lauderdale (31-4) stranded five baserunners and had another one thrown out at third base.

Coach Speak: “There’s a whole other game to play, and that team right there is as solid as it gets.” – Mann, on West Lauderdale