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Sweet Water makes first state tourney

The Lady Bulldogs (14-12) will head to their first ever fast pitch state tournament Thursday after a 4-2 weekend at the South Central Regional in Troy that saw them finish as runner-up.

“It was unbelievable,” Sweet Water head coach Pat Thompson said of the run, which saw the Lady Bulldogs play four consecutive games on Saturday. “The first game, we looked like we were still give out from the night before because we didn’t get back to the hotel until after 11. We made six errors and gave up nine runs. It was a tremendous effort the rest of the day.”

Sweet Water picked up a 2-0 win over Holy Spirit in the first game of the weekend, riding an effort from pitcher DeDe Norwood, who allowed only one hit in the game.

“She’s done well. She has some days where she’s real big,” Thompson said of Norwood. “She’s kept us in a lot of games. She gives us a chance to win every time she is in the circle.”

SWHS closed out Friday with a 6-2 win over Faith Christian. Then came the error-ridden game against Maplesville that saw the Lady Bulldogs lose 9-0. From there, Sweet Water embarked on a stretch that saw it down Holy Spirit 13-6 and Maplesville 12-8 to force a decisive final game. In the victory over Holy Spirit, Sweet Water got a double, a triple and a home run from Norwood. The sophomore then turned around and hit homers in back-to-back at-bats in the win over Maplesville.

In the final game of the tournament, Sweet Water lost 8-5 to Maplesville but managed to qualify for the state draw by finishing as regional runner-up.

“I think that we just gave out the last game. We were spent,” Thompson said. “The girls played hard the whole night long, even to the very end. Our catcher was diving up against the fence, catching balls. Tondalaya (Dockers) has busted her tail behind the plate. Nobody has straight stolen a base on her since I moved her back there.”

Sweet Water got through the tournament on the pitching efforts of Norwood and senior Brianna Black.

“She’s not fast at all, but she throws strikes,” Thompson said of Black.

Sweet Water’s place in the state tournament comes despite an 0-7 start by the Lady Bulldogs.

“We started our year at 0-7. We lost our first seven games before we won a marathon over at South Choctaw when we won that game 31-22,” Thompson said. “After that we started playing defense and DeDe started throwing strikes.”

Thompson believes Sweet Water’s trip to the Class 1A state bracket signifies the beginning of the next phase for the program.

“It means everything,” Thompson said. “We’ve got two seniors that have played every year I have been here. It is just a tremendous honor for them and for me. And I think we’re only going to get better.”

Sweet Water will begin play in the state tourney Thursday at 9 a.m. when it challenges Lynn.