SENATOBIA – An opposing walk-off home run in game one and a thwarted comeback attempt in the nightcap spoiled East Mississippi Community College's softball division opener Saturday afternoon at Ranger Field. The visiting Lady Lions dropped a pair of two-run decisions, 6-4 in eight innings and 5-3, to Northwest Mississippi Community College to begin MACJC North Division play.
In the opener, the visitors broke out on top first with a pair of runs in the third inning. Jade Albritton's two-out, two-run single plated starting pitcher Taylor Hackney and Corey Dawkins, who had both earlier singled.
The Rangers reached Hackney for solo tallies in the fourth and fifth innings to tie the contest heading into the late innings. Eventual game hero Haley Vance singled in a run with two outs in the fourth, while Northwest pushed across an unearned run to knot the score the next frame.
Utilizing international tiebreaker rules, the Lady Lions scored twice in the top of the eighth to reclaim the lead at 4-2. With Kasey Stanfield placed at second to begin the inning, she was moved to third on Abby Roberts' second hit of the game and then came around to score on Whitney Lowe's pinch-hit sacrifice fly to right field. Pepper Baker's second hit of the game then scored courtesy runner Beth Hull for EMCC's fourth run of the contest.
The lead didn't last long, however, as the Rangers re-tied the game on a two-run double by Roxanna Kimes and promptly won the opener in dramatic fashion on a walk-off, two-run home run by Vance.
The Lady Lions out-hit Northwest, 10-8, in the opener with Roberts and Baker leading the way for the visitors with two hits apiece, including a triple and double, respectively.
Hackney, a sophomore right-hander, dropped to 3-4 on the year in going the distance for the Lady Lions. The Bayou Academy product scattered eight hits while striking out five and walking three.
EMCC battled from behind throughout the nightcap after trailing 1-0 early on Kimes' second-inning leadoff home run. The Rangers extended their lead to 4-0 with three more runs, aided by a pair of Lady Lion errors, in the fifth off starting pitcher Halie Green.
The two teams traded single runs in the sixth inning to make the score 5-1 heading into the final frame. In the top of the sixth, Baker's two-out RBI single plated Hull, who courtesy ran for Roberts after the former Clarkdale High School standout doubled to right field.
The Lady Lions made things interesting in the seventh despite being down to their final strike and still trailing 5-1. Following back-to-back fly outs to begin the frame, Kristen Mitchell coaxed a two-out walk off NWCC reliever Jessica Holliday on a 3-2 count. After Dawkins reached on an infield error to extend the comeback attempt, Stanfield clubbed a two-out, two-run double to right-center field. EMCC's comeback attempt was halted when Kimes entered the game and got Albritton to ground out on the first pitch thrown to preserve the 5-3 victory and complete the sweep.
Throwing the first five innings for the visitors in game two, Green's record fell to 6-4 on the season. The Lafayette, La., product allowed four runs on six hits while fanning three and walking two.
Coach Kyndall White's 11-11 EMCC Lady Lions look to bounce back from their 0-2 division start by playing host to Coahoma Community College in a Tuesday doubleheader set for a 3 p.m. start at the EMCC Softball Field on the Scooba campus.