Quitman and Poyen are no strangers when it comes to postseason play.
When the two teams play for the Class 2A state softball championship at 10 a.m. Saturday at Fayetteville's Bogle Park, it will mark the third consecutive year the two programs have faced each other during the state tournament and the second time in a row in a state championship game.
"It's turned into a bit of a rivalry," Poyen Coach Blue Kesterson said.
And a good one at that. Poyen eliminated Quitman 5-0 during the 2017 quarterfinals. Quitman defeated Poyen 7-4 in the 2018 title game. Two weeks ago, Poyen outlasted Quitman 3-2 in eight innings in the regional finals.
In the last three years, the Poyen Lady Indians have a combined record of 77-13; The Quitman Lady Bulldogs are 71-14 in the same span.
Both teams can hit. Poyen senior catcher Alana Pumphrey has drilled 17 home runs this season to go along with a .574 batting average and 60 RBI.
Quitman (23-5) does not have anyone that can match Pumphrey's home-run pop, but the Lady Bulldogs have a team batting average of .387 and seven of the Quitman regulars own a batting average of .329 or better. Poyen (28-1) has belted several opportune home runs during the postseason, including a grand slam from Madison Wilfong in a regional victory over McCrory.
"We're very strong with the bat," Kesterson said. "We don't have a lot of speed so we have to hit it hard."
Quitman senior Marley Johnson has a team-high six home runs while sophomore Kassie Rhodes, senior Trinaty Ellington and freshman Riley Drake have five home runs each. Rhodes has driven in a team-high 40 runs.
Rhodes has thrown 992/3 innings this spring and has compiled a 1.55 earned run average and 137 strikeouts.
Senior Kindi Puckett has been a starting pitcher for the Lady Indians the last four years.
"Kindi is the most athletic player we have on the team," Kesterson said. "She knows how to cover first and she's a very good fielder when a ball comes back through the middle."
Defensively, it's hard to match what Poyen has done this season. The Lady Indians have held their opponents scoreless 12 times and no team has scored more than four runs in any one game. Poyen has given up only 31 runs all season.
Kesterson said Quitman's advantage is its speed. The Lady Bulldogs have stolen 46 bases this season.
"They have several girls who can run," Kesterson said. "We have to keep them off the bases."
Sports on 05/16/2019
Print Headline: Speed, power evident in 2A softball rivalry