FULTON – East Mississippi Community College's softball season came to a close this past weekend by dropping 9-6 and 5-1 decisions at sixth-ranked Itawamba Community College during a best-of-three MACJC playoff series played at the ICC Softball Complex.
During Friday's series opener, the back-and-forth contest featured three lead changes and two ties before the Indians ultimately prevailed by scoring runs in all but the opening frame. But, it was the EMCC Lions who gained the early momentum by scoring solo runs during each of the first two innings. To open the contest, Mallory Vance smacked her second inside-the-park home run of the year off ICC starting pitcher Caroline Dickins. The following frame, EMCC's Treasure Lynch delivered a clutch two-out RBI single to put the visitors on top 2-0.
Taking advantage of three walks, two wild pitches, a passed ball and a squeeze bunt, the Indians knotted the score at 2-2 with a pair of manufactured runs in the second off EMCC starter Carly Thompson. ICC then took a brief 3-2 edge with a run in the third on doubles by Alex Brown and Mamie Hollenhead.
The two teams continued to trade leads through the middle innings. The Lions grabbed their final lead of the game in the fourth when Lynch's two-out triple was followed by Vance's RBI single and a run-producing infield throwing error by ICC. A pair of EMCC miscues in the bottom half of the fourth then contributed to three Indian runs, including back-to-back RBI doubles from Brown and Meg Sullivan that put the home team back in front 6-4.
The visitors came right back to tie the game in the fifth by capitalizing on another ICC infield error that helped open the door for Layton Sills' timely two-out, two-run single off eventual winning pitcher Carleigh Mills.
Itawamba went on top for good by reaching losing pitcher Jordan Self for a pair of runs in the fifth on Mary Kansas Sullivan's second successful squeeze bunt of the game followed by a sacrifice fly from Dickins. The Indians added an unearned insurance run in the sixth to account for the final margin.
Out-hitting ICC, 9-8, in the opening game, the Lions were led by Vance's 3-for-4 effort at the plate, which included two runs batted in and two runs scored. Lynch was 2-for-3 in the opener.
On Saturday, it was Itawamba's turn to establish early control of the series' second contest. After Madison Carnes doubled in the game's first run in the second, the Indians reached EMCC starting pitcher Madison Jacques for three more runs in the third on consecutive two-out hits by Bre Harford and Mary Kansas Sullivan.
The Lions' only run of the nightcap off Dickins came in the fifth on Vance's second hit of the game and fifth of the doubleheader – a single that plated Ashley Vickers. Vance, a sophomore from West Lauderdale High School completed her sophomore season batting a team-best .445.
While improving to 38-10-1 overall on the year, the Indians completed the series' scoring with a squeeze bunt from Carnes that sent pinch-runner Cori Childs racing home from third.
Coach Kyndall White's EMCC Lions concluded the 2017 campaign with an 18-27 overall record, including a 15-13 conference mark that earned East Mississippi the MACJC's No. 6 seed in the best-of-three softball playoff series.
Itawamba will be joined in this weekend's (May 5-6) Jones County-hosted MACJC State Softball Tournament by top-ranked JCJC, No. 7 Mississippi Gulf Coast and ninth-ranked East Central.