BOONEVILLE — Look up, way up to find the Booneville Lady Blue Devils fastpitch softball team, because according to head coach Jessica Taylor, “They’re on cloud 9.”
Booneville advanced to the state championship series for the first time in school history Saturday with a 5-1 win over Division 1-3A rival Kossuth on the Lady Aggies field to complete a 2-0 series sweep after winning game one 7-1 at home on Friday.
This is the first North Half championship for BHS.
“It’s hard to put into words just how we feel right now,” said an elated Coach Taylor following her squad’s two wins over their respected and well-coached rivals. “(Kossuth) is a very talented team that plays hard every inning. They are very well-coached and we are fortunate to get past them and go now to play for the state championship.”
The Class 3A state championship series begins Wednesday at Nusz Field on the campus of Mississippi State University. Booneville will face Raleigh, the 3A South Half champion following their 2-0 sweep of Morton this weekend.
The Lady Blue Devils and Lady Lions are both ranked among Mississippi’s top-10 teams rendering a clear-cut favorite almost impossible to pick with any certainty.
“We don’t know that much about Raleigh yet, but we will and I’m sure they are a very well-rounded team that pitches, hits and fields well,” said Taylor. “We did a good job in all three of those areas in this last series against Kossuth, although we did make a couple of errors that we will need to clean up.”
Breaking down the 2021 Raleigh fastpitch club, they are led at the plate by three players batting over .400 for the season.
The Lady Lions leading hitter just happens to be their No. 1 starting pitcher, whose stat line seems to indicate that she is just as dangerous swinging the bat as she is throwing strokes.
Senior Holly Craft sports a team-leading .571 batting average, including 36 hits and 28 RBI. She is also 16-2 on the hill with a sub-one ERA of 0.63. Craft has struck out 186 batters in 11.2 innings pitched while holding the opponents to a .140 batting average, all among the best marks in the state.
Sophomore outfielder/second baseman Destiny Crosby is next with a .447 batting average and a .515 on-base percentage. She has a team-leading 38 hits with 18 RBI and 38 runs scored.
Senior Hayley Revette – who does just about everything for the Lady Lions, including pitching – carries a .414 batting average with a .510 on-base percentage. She has 36 hits, 19 RBI and has scored a team-leading 39 runs.
Raleigh has appeared in one state championship series, falling to Houston in 2018.
Booneville fans need no introduction to the leaders on their squad, having witnessed the Lady Blue Devils piece together a 28-4-1 record – among the best in the state – and a share of the division title.
Kossuth was awarded the league championship based on run differential during the regular season series between the clubs.
“Obviously, our girls have never been this far in the playoffs before,” said the Booneville coach. “But I expect us to go out on that field Wednesday ready to play with the mindset that we can win the series if we just play the way we know we are capable of playing.
“We have enjoyed some outstanding individual efforts this year up and down our roster and have had a tremendous season to this point. But we couldn’t have done any of it without the support from our administration and our community, who have been overwhelmingly supportive. They are there at every game and they are vocal. In fact, we might have had more fans at the Kossuth series than we have all year.”
Raleigh will enter the 3A state championship series with a 22-6 record and a No. 8 ranking while Booneville will bring their slate to Starkville with a No. 6 ranking.
On a side note, Booneville fans might want to keep in mind the Lady Blue Devils’ last loss was on March 26 when they dropped an 8-1 home decision to Kossuth. Coach Taylor’s squad hasn’t lost since winning 15 in a row.
The first pitch for game one between Booneville and Raleigh is set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Game two is scheduled for Thursday, also around 6:30 p.m. Game three, if necessary, will be Saturday at a time to be determined.