SENATOBIA – In a pair of two-run softball decisions that both came down to the final inning, the Lions of East Mississippi Community College earned a conference doubleheader split at Northwest Mississippi Community College by claiming a 6-4 nightcap win Thursday afternoon at Ranger Field. EMCC's comeback attempt in the first game came up just short with the Rangers holding on for the 7-5 victory.
After the Lions scored three seventh-inning runs in the opener to cut into a 7-2 deficit with the potential tying run at the plate before falling short, the visitors then followed with three more runs in the final frame of the nightcap to break a 3-3 tie and gain a doubleheader split with the Rangers.
EMCC got things rolling in the seventh inning of the second contest beginning with Mallory Vance's third hit of the game. The West Lauderdale High School product then stole her third base of the contest and came around to score the tiebreaking run on Averi Pender's sacrifice fly to right field. Later in the inning, D'Iberville's Magnolia Keller capped her 4-for-4 nightcap effort at the plate with a clutch two-out, two-run single off Northwest's Harley Smith to give EMCC some needed insurance runs.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Rangers loaded the bases with one out and managed to trim the margin to 6-4 on Sallie Rose Carver run-scoring ground out. With the potential tying runs in scoring position for Northwest, EMCC's Carly Thompson got cleanup hitter Tori Luke to pop up to second to seal the victory and earn the split for the Lions.
Thompson, a freshman right-hander from Germantown High School, scattered five hits and allowed only one earned run to go along with three strikeouts and three walks to improve to 8-9 on the year with her eighth complete-game decision.
In the opener, the home-standing Rangers reached EMCC starting pitcher Jordan Self for a run in the first and three more in the second to take an early 4-0 lead. Heading into the final frame, Northwest had increased the margin to 7-2.
The seventh inning began harmlessly enough for the home team with two quick ground outs. Treasure Lynch then ignited a string of four successive singles that made things very interesting. Add in an outfield error and a wild pitch that brought home the third run of the inning, and the Lions suddenly found themselves with the potential tying run at the plate. But, Luke entered the game for Smith to strike out Kendall Wilkinson looking on a 3-2 pitch to close out the Northwest victory.
EMCC also out-hit the Rangers, 10-9, in the opening game. Vance, Pender and Brannon each had two hits for the Lions.
Coach Kyndall White's 18-23 EMCC Lions enter their regular-season finale this weekend against nationally seventh-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast in fifth place among the MACJC standings with a 15-11 conference record. The EMCC-MGCCC doubleheader has been pushed back a day and will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday at the EMCC Softball Field on the Scooba campus. Prior to Sunday's twin bill against Gulf Coast, 11 Lion softball sophomores will be recognized for their contributions to the program.
With the top eight teams advancing to next week's (April 28-29) MACJC's best-of-three softball playoff series, East Mississippi looks to be in good shape to qualify for postseason softball play for the eighth time in the last nine years. The conference's top four seeds will host the upcoming best-of-three playoff series beginning Friday.