SCOOBA – Coming up just short in conference softball nightcap action, the Lions of East Mississippi Community College fell twice at home Tuesday to ninth-ranked Itawamba Community College. Following ICC's 10-4 win in the opening contest, EMCC took the visiting Indians to the final out in the second game before dropping a tough 5-4 decision at the EMCC Softball Field.
In the nightcap, Itawamba owned a 3-1 lead through four innings after plating two runs in the first and adding another score in the fourth off EMCC starting pitcher Carly Thompson. After pushing across their first run of the game in the third, the Lions cut the deficit in half during the fifth inning on Sydney Olander's clutch two-out RBI triple off ICC's Carleigh Mills that scored Treasure Lynch and set up a tense seventh inning.
During the top half of the final frame, the visitors seemed to secure some breathing room when first-game winning pitcher Caroline Dickins belted a pinch-hit, two-run homer with two outs to give Itawamba a 5-2 advantage. Those two insurance runs would certainly come in handy for the Indians during the home half of the seventh.
Lynch again started EMCC's rally by reaching base for the third time in the game. She later came around to score on Olander's third RBI of the contest. After moving into scoring position on a wild pitch, Olander was brought home on Averi Pender's RBI single to make it a 5-4 game. Pender advanced to second on the throw home and then moved to third on Kendall Wilkinson's ground out to second. But, the Lions' comeback attempt fell a run short when Kaitlyn Brannon was thrown out by a step at first base on her grounder to short.
For the Lions in the second game, Olander led the way by going 3-for-4 at the plate with a triple and three runs batted in. In the circle, Thompson was the hard-luck loser and fell to 7-8 on the year with the complete-game decision.
The visitors had an early handle on the opening contest by reaching EMCC starting pitcher Jordan Self for four runs through the first two innings. McKenzie Piper's two-out, two-run home run in the first was followed by Meg Sullivan's two-out, two-run double an inning later.
After ICC's Dickins retired the first six Lion batters, the home team quickly made things interesting in the bottom of the third with one swing of the bat plus the resulting sprint around the bases. Preceded by Danielle Darmohray's first of two hits in the game and a walk to Lynch two batters later, EMCC's Mallory Vance slashed a liner down the left-field line and into the corner. The speedy sophomore out of West Lauderdale High School sped all the way home for a three-run, inside-the-park home run that cut the deficit to 4-3.
The Indians reclaimed control of the game by batting around and scoring six runs in the fifth. The big blow of the inning was Alex Brown's grand slam off EMCC freshman right-hander AG Stewart.
The Lions completed the game's scoring when Pender, the reigning MACJC Player of the Week, smacked her team-leading sixth home run of the year to lead off the sixth inning.
Coach Kyndall White's 17-20 EMCC Lions, 14-8 within the conference, will play host to the eighth-ranked Warriors of East Central Community College in a 1 p.m. Friday doubleheader on the Scooba campus.