STONEWALL — Saturday afternoon’s matchup between two-time defending LHSAA Class 4A state champion North Desoto and Class 5A No. 2 Ouachita had all the makings of a late-season clash of titans.
A bucket list cross-off possibility, two of the best coaches in the state pitting wits, a plethora of athletes who have signed or committed to play at the next level and an ever-changing wind that would at one point would alter the game.
Thanks to the only error in the contest by either of the high quality teams, the Lady Griffins (23-3) were able to sneak away with a 3-2 victory over the Lady Lions (23-3) picking up some big time power points in the process.
“It’s been on my bucket list for a long time to beat (Ouachita coach) Tim Whitman, and we were able to accomplish it today,” said NDHS coach Lori McFerren. “He’s been successful at the high school level and at the collegiate level. And he probably has more film on us than we have on ourselves. In fact, he’s sent me film on us on a flash drive when I needed it.”
Fittingly, the winning run came in the bottom of the seventh with the score knotted at 2-2. Louisiana Tech signee Bayli Simon, arguably the best shortstop in the state, was walked for the second time in the game to avoid her big stick. Bailey McMillian slapped a soft roller into the infield that was bobbled then thrown a bit off target to first.
Simon sailed around the bases as the ball rolled away from Ouachita’s first baseman. As she hit third going full steam, McFerren signaled her home and Simon slid in just ahead of the tag by Abby Allen.
“When I saw Bailey Mc hit that ball and the first baseman bobble it, I immediately thought of going three,” Simon said. “When I saw coach Mc waving me around I knew I had to score the winning run. It felt good to do it for my team and to know we battled back against adversity in this game.”
Whitman’s crew certainly had their chances and didn’t let an early 2-0 deficit get them down. A towering, wind-aided home run by Grambling signee Morgan Adams tied the game in the top of the seventh, reinvigorating the Lady Lions.
“I was looking for something inside and wasn’t trying to hit a homer,” Adams said. “I got what I was looking for and just went with it.”
But Ouachita ace Allie Ellerbe struggled at times with her consistency and Simon was her seventh allowed base runner via a walk or hit batter. Still, she left 9 runners stranded and allowed just five hits on the day.
“Allie doesn’t overpower people so she has to be in control to be effective,” Whitman said. “We struggled a bit early with (EC) Delafield’s speed, and because we were caught up with her reputation. Once we relaxed, we did a lot better.”
As is usually the case, Delafield, an NSU signee who compiled 12 strikeouts with five hits, didn’t let up from start to finish and was able to keep the powerful Ouachita bats in check for most of the contest. North DeSoto scored one in the second when Sheridan Loe was hit by a pitch and scored on Delafield’s RBI single, and made it 2-0 in the third when Simon reached on a single and scored on Sydney Webster’s sacrifice fly.
The visitors got one back in the fourth when South Alabama commit Abby Allen doubled off the left centerfield wall and scored on Morgan Adams’ single.