Missy Gators bow out|Pontotoc sweeps Vicksburg out of Class 4A playoffs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 8, 2009

All season long, Vicksburg High’s anemic offense has been a troubling weakness. On Tuesday, it was one Brooke Denton exploited to great effect.

Denton, a hard-throwing junior right-hander, threw a one-hitter and a two-hitter as Pontotoc swept Vicksburg out of the first round of the Class 4A playoffs with a pair of victories, 7-1 and 4-0.

Denton took perfect games into the sixth inning in both games of the first-round doubleheader. She finished with a total of 24 strikeouts, walked no one, and allowed a total of three hits and four baserunners. In 14 total innings, she retired the side in order 12 times.

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“We’ve seen one other pitcher that speed all year,” Vicksburg coach Amanda Yocum said. “She was throwing nice outside pitches. It was catching the corner and we just couldn’t connect with that speed.”

Vicksburg pitcher Kristi Shelby also threw well, but the lack of offense doomed the Missy Gators (10-14).

Shelby scattered six hits in Game 1, and only allowed one earned run. The game was scoreless until the fifth, when Alyssa Fair led off with a walk. She advanced to second on a ground out, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Brooklyn Alexander’s single through the left side of the infield.

Pontotoc (20-8) scored two more runs in the sixth, when Olivia Owen delivered an RBI single and a throwing error allowed another run to score.

Vicksburg finally got its first baserunner in the bottom of the sixth, on Rebekah Conerly’s one-out double. Conerly scored on an error to cut it to 3-1, but five Missy Gator errors in the top of the seventh inning led to four unearned runs and put the game away.

Game 2 was almost a repeat of Game 1 — right down to the Missy Gators’ first hit, a leadoff double by Conerly in the sixth inning. The biggest difference was a more persistent Pontotoc offense that scored one run in the third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings. Owen went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while Hilary Parrish was 3-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.

The loss in Game 2 ended Vicksburg’s season, as well as an era. The team will lose a half-dozen seniors, including five-year starter Shelby, who started for several years and helped the program gain respectability.

Vicksburg still has not won a playoff series in a decade of playing fast-pitch — or even a playoff game — but did take a big step this season by finishing second in Division 3-4A and earning the right to host a first-round playoff doubleheader.

“You always want to go back and change stuff. But I think we did pretty dang good,” said VHS senior first baseman Claiborne Bryant.


Contact Ernest Bowker at ebowker@vicksburgpost.com