Pounders rolls, Corinth takes Game 1 of 5A finals

HATTIESBURG – After struggling to score in the first two innings, Corinth’s bats adjusted and broke through. Once they did, Callie Pounders took care of the rest.

The junior struck out 12 over seven innings and took a no-hitter into the sixth as the Warriors beat the East Central Hornets 5-1 in Game 1 of the MHSAA Class 5A state finals at the Southern Miss Softball Complex on Wednesday afternoon.

With the game scoreless heading into the top of the third, Corinth hit six singles in the frame to make it 3-0. The outburst largely came from refocusing on fundamentals.

“We were hitting the ball. We were just under it,” Corinth coach Maggi Vondenstein said. “So we just had to adjust, keep our hands high, see a few pitches, get the nerves (out) of us, and they did a good job of it and they made it happen.”

East Central got a run back in the bottom of the fourth. Jolie Wallace got caught in a rundown between third and home but managed to evade a tag on her way home. With Valerie Merrill at bat representing the tying run, Pounders struck her out to escape the jam.

The Warriors responded in the top of the fifth with a solo shot by Addyson Moore.

East Central’s first two hits of the game came in the sixth to put runners on second and third with two outs. Pounders then got Lillian Evans to strike out swinging.

Though her changeup sometimes got away from her, she was still able to use it to her advantage.

“A lot of times your changeup doesn’t have to be a strike. It just has to change up what the hitter is seeing,” Pounders said. “It’s really great to be able to throw it and then come up and in with a hard riseball (or) fastball.”

When faced with jams in the fourth and sixth innings, Pounders’ trust in Corinth’s hitters and defense helped her find a way out.

“Just knowing that if I threw to contact, my team was gonna have my back on defense,” she said. “And knowing that even if I gave up a couple of runs that our offense was going to come in with hot bats and score some runs.”

Game 2 will be Friday at 1:15 p.m.

Extra Bases

Big Inning: McKinley Moore, Lainey Briggs and Alyssa Settlemires each hit one-run singles in the top of the third.

Big Stat: Six of Corinth’s nine hitters got a hit.

Coach Speak: “One win doesn’t win it all, so we’ve still got one more to go. We can’t get content right there. We’ve got to stay hungry and we’ve got to keep doing what we’ve been doing all season to get us to this point. That’s what we’ve got to do coming into Friday’s game.” – Vondenstein’s message to Corinth ahead of Game 2