Photo by Derrick Mahone
Mundy’s Mill coach Patrick Smith tries to encourage his team during a timeout in the second game of the Tigers’ Class AAAA playoff loss to No. 4 Ola on Wednesday. Ola won the best-of-three series to advance to the second round of the playoffs.
After missing the state playoffs last season, Ola coach Gidget Gue saw a lot more sense of urgency in her team this season.
The Mustangs stayed in the rankings for the majority of the season while playing in what is arguably the top softball region in the state.
If Wednesday’s opening-round sweep of Mundy’s Mill is any indication, the Mustangs could possibly contend for their first state title. Ola dominated the Tigers 17-0 and 16-1 to sweep the best-of-three series and advance to the second round.
“We came out wanting to get two wins,” Gue said. “We’ve got a few things to work on to get ready for the second round. There are always things to work on.”
The fourth-ranked Mustangs (28-9-1) looked flawless against Mundy’s Mill (16-16), the Region 4-AAAA runner-up. Former Mundy’s Mill pitcher Savannah McHellon, who now plays at Ola, pitched only one inning in her return to the Jonesboro campus.
McHellon, a sophomore, struck out two batters and the other grounded out. Lindsay Sheets would pitch the next two innings of the first game. Gue would call on freshman Raya Moncus to pitch the nightcap.
“We wanted to rest her,” Gue said of McHellon.
“It was good seeing some of my old teammates,” McHellon said.
As dominating as the Ola pitching staff was on Wednesday, Mundy’s Mill’s freshman Shuwntrice Callaway could never get in sync. She walked the first three batters of the first game before giving up three consecutive hits.
Ola jumped to an 8-0 lead in the first game and was never challenged. Mundy’s Mill had only one hit in the contest, when junior Krystal Dewberry singled to open the second inning.
“We didn’t play our best,” Mundy’s Mill coach Patrick Smith said. “We haven’t given an effort like this all year. We gave up a lot of walks and committed some mental errors. You have to give credit to Ola. They are a good hitting team, and they took advantage of our mistakes.”
Ola, which finished third in Region 3-AAAA, snapped a two-game losing streak. Before that, Ola had won seven consecutive games.
“Our girls were excited about the state tournament starting,” Gue said. “We are two wins away from going to Columbus. We want to make up for not being in the tournament last season.”
Gue pointed to the fact that all four of Region 3-AAAA’s playoff teams are ranked in the top 10 in the state.
“We are coming out of a tough region,” Gue said.
While disappointed with the outcome, Smith said his young team has a lot to be proud of after finishing runner-up in the region and winning the Clayton County championship.
“We accomplished our goals,” Smith said. “It didn’t end quite like we wanted it to, but we had to re-evaluate ourselves after losing our pitcher (McHellon). We ran across a team that is ranked in the top 10, and it showed.”