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Lady Cougars heading back to Murfreesboro

By Thomas Sellers Jr.Munford Softball Duncan bunt

Munford Lady Cougar seniors Christina Cantrell, Jodie Duncan and Courtney Bonaiuto celebrate making four straight Class 3A State Softball Tournaments Saturday after beating Houston.

Munford Lady Cougar seniors Christina Cantrell, Jodie Duncan and Courtney Bonaiuto celebrate making four straight Class 3A State Softball Tournaments Saturday after beating Houston.

Munford Softball No. 9 slide

All on the line for a trio of Munford Lady Cougars Saturday afternoon was history.
Munford seniors Jodie Duncan, Courtney Bonaiuto and Christina Cantrell were one game away from reaching the Class 3A State Softball Tournament every year in their prep career. The obstacle in their way at the Munford Softball Field was the Houston Lady Mustangs.
Cantrell was ready for the challenge bringing her bat, glove and running shoes. The senior center fielder came up with big hits including a leadoff single in the eighth inning.
“It was good to get on base,” Cantrell said of her hit in extra innings. “I knew I hit it well and got a base hit.”
Then her sophomore teammate McKenzie Pugh slapped a single to right field droving Cantrell home for the 2-1 win.
“I was going home and I was going to be safe,” Cantrell noted. “I was determined. When I stepped on home I felt awesome. I knew we were going to State, four years in a row. It felt good being my senior year.”
Before the moment of elation, the Lady Cougars were nursing a 1-0 lead from the first inning. Duncan doubled with two outs setting up Peyton Joyner. The sophomore catcher smacked a single to drive Duncan home for the first score of the Sectional game.
The scoreboard read 1-0 until the top of the sixth inning in large part to a defensive play by Cantrell. In the top of the fifth inning Houston was threatening to tie the game.
“I knew that was a girl going home,” she recalled. “I heard Ashley (Wilson) in left field yelling at me, ‘Go home,’ so I came up throwing. I knew I had to get her. I was excited and it felt good.”
Joyner snatched the ball off the third base line and tagged the runner in front of home plate to end the inning and keep Houston scoreless. But that all changed in the top of the inning when Lady Mustang clean-up hitter Mary Collins stepped up to the plate. Collins crushed Sam Scott offering over the head of Cantrell and just past the American Flag in center field for a homer.
“You’ve got to score more than one to win,” Scott said. “That team can hit, but every team we’ve played can hit. Our team came through and stayed together. And that’s what it takes, everybody coming together doing what they can.”
The Lady Cougars rallied behind Scott with defense shutting down Houston in the seventh and eighth innings.  Cantrell led off for Munford in the top of the eighth inning with a single. After Wilson advanced Cantrell to second base with a sacrifice bunt, the chance for another game-winning hit was presented to Pugh. The previous week against Dyer County in the District 13-3A Softball Tournament championship game Pugh smacked a single that helped Munford prevail.
“Once again I knew I had to come through for my team,” Pugh said. “We wanted this win more than anything.
“I was really proud of myself,” she continued. “I was just really excited. When I turned around and saw Christina hit home plate, I knew we were on our way to State.”
Scott earned the victory pitching limiting the Lady Mustangs to one run in eight innings.
“My team is the best,” she said. “I couldn’t be more happier to have them behind me. The hitting and defense, everybody is coming together one at a time. I’m so glad they’re all there for me.
“I’m happy for our seniors getting to go again,” Scott added. “I’m for our freshmen who get to come with us. I’m happy about it because it’s such a good experience.”
The Lady Cougar program is experiencing State for the fourth straight year. It was the Class of 2014 who helped the school reach the promise-land back in 2011 for the first time.
Munford Head Coach Glenn Goulder said the seniors used that wisdom to help guide the 2014 edition of the Lady Cougars back to Murfreesboro for this week’s tournament.
“The team has come together so well in the last month,” he recalled. “We’re getting people at the bottom of the lineup producing. We had a big play by our center fielder that cut down a runner at home plate. That was a big, big play in the game. Houston got my respect. They played a great ball game and they’re well coached. We were very fortunate today.
“That’s the second time (McKenzie) has come through with a game-winning hit,” Goulder continued. “Now her two cuts did look pretty bad. I told her, ‘Look her McKenzie, you’ve got to believe you can hit the ball. You look like you’re swinging like you don’t believe.’ She got one up and she tomahawked the ball. It was real nice that she found it.”
Pugh’s hit allowed Cantrell to be the player stepping on home plate helping the Lady Cougars advance to State. The senior said the historic significance of the moment was not lost on her.
“Jodie, Courtney and I making it four in a row is just amazing,” Cantrell concluded. “We made history together. We were a part of the first team to go to State. Now we’ve got to go every year and finish off our senior year in a special way.”

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