Reigning champ Booneville keeps season alive

BOONEVILLE – The queens of Class 3A softball aren’t dead yet.

Booneville, the three-time defending state champion, kept its season alive on Saturday by taking a 3-0 win against Mantachie in Game 2 of their quarterfinal playoff series. The decisive Game 3 will be Monday at Mantachie.

Although the Blue Devils graduated a lot of players from last year’s team, they have no intentions of yielding their crown.

“These girls, they may not be talented one through nine as every other team, but I’m telling you, they’ve got more fight than any team around here,” Booneville coach Jessica Taylor said. “And that’s what’s carried us this far, and that’s what I think is going to keep us advancing and surviving.”

After being shut out in Game 1, Booneville (19-12-1) got on the board early when Abbie McKinney doubled down the left field line to score Olivia Garrett in the first inning. The ball passed right in front of Mantachie’s dugout, and the coaches contended vehemently that it landed foul.

“That ball was fouler than foul over here to lead the ballgame off,” head coach Kristi Montgomery said.

Mantachie starter Ramsey Montgomery settled in quickly, however, retiring the next 13 batters. Booneville then got two insurance runs in the sixth, on an RBI fielder’s choice by McKinney and an RBI single by Katherine Gillon.

A getting three hits against Ramsey Montgomery in Game 1, McKinney was moved from eighth in the batting order to fourth.

“I feel like I have a bigger advantage on her because I’m a left-handed hitter,” McKinney said.

Montgomary allowed six hits, struck out seven and walked none.

Garrett got the win in the circle. She allowed just three hits, struck out five and walked two. Mantachie (28-5) had a chance to tie or take the lead in the fifth after back-to-back singles by Allysa Westmoreland and Blayne Sturgeon, but Garrett stranded them both.

Extra Bases

Big Inning: Garrett led off the first with a single, was bunted to second, advanced to third on a groundout, and then scored on McKinney’s double.

Big Stat: Mantachie stranded five runners on base.

Coach Speak: “I’ve told them all year long, you may not be hitting at the beginning of the season, but the end of the season is where we want you. That’s the whole process of getting you to where you’re hitting at the end of the season. That’s where we want you hot, and she is.” – Taylor, on McKinney