SCOOBA – Following this past weekend's season-opening participation in the Pearl River Community College-hosted Wildcat Invitational, the East Mississippi Community College softball team is scheduled to begin its 2017 home slate with four doubleheaders during an upcoming nine-day home stand.
This week, the Lions will first play host to preseason 12th-ranked (NJCAA Division II) East Central Community College in a Wednesday (Feb. 15) doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. on the Scooba campus. EMCC is then scheduled to welcome preseason 10th-ranked (NJCAA Division I) Shelton State for a 2 p.m. Friday twin bill. East Mississippi stays at home the following week to entertain Marion Military Institute and Wallace State-Hanceville on Feb. 21 and 23, respectively.
Returning 11 sophomores to this year's team, fifth-year EMCC head coach Kyndall White's Lions dropped all four tournament decisions this past weekend in Poplarville to open the new season. On Friday evening, EMCC fell to Marion Military, 16-7, and to host Pearl River, 14-7. The Lions came back the following day and lost to Calhoun Community College, 9-3, and to reigning NJCAA Division II national champion and preseason top-ranked LSU Eunice, 13-5.
Offensively to begin the campaign, the Lions collectively hit .341 as a team during the Wildcat Invitational, including double-digit team hit totals in three of the four weekend contests. EMCC banged out 14 and 11 hits during Friday's games and then added 13 more hits in the team's tournament finale against LSU Eunice.
Starters Kaitlyn Brannon (Cullman, AL) and Danielle Darmohray, of Biloxi, were both 5-for-13 (.385) at the plate during the two-day tournament. Fellow sophomore infielder Kendall Wilkinson, a product of East Webster High School, batted .333 for the weekend with a team-leading five runs batted in, including a 3-for-4 effort with three RBIs in the opener versus Marion Military. Ashley Vickers, a freshman out of Bayou Academy, followed with a .308 batting average.
Another pair of freshmen supplied some power during EMCC's Saturday setback to No. 1-ranked LSU Eunice. In consecutive innings, Corinth's Rebekah Williams and D'Iberville's Magnolia Keller smacked two-run homers against the defending national champs.
In the circle for the Lions, sophomores Jordan Self (Lanett, AL), Ciara Steward (Oxford) and Madison Jacques (Rayne, LA) all received starting assignments during the opening weekend. Freshman right-hander Carly Thompson, out of Germantown High School, earned the start in the opener against MMI and then made her third appearance of the tournament by throwing three scoreless innings against top-ranked LSU Eunice on Saturday. Fellow newcomer AG Stewart, from Pisgah High School, also made three pitching appearances during the weekend for EMCC.