SCOOBA – A pair of late-game rallies fell just short as East Mississippi Community College's Lady Lions dropped narrow 11-9 and 6-4 decisions to seventh-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College during Friday's MACJC softball action played on the Scooba campus.
EMCC began the day with a bang when freshman Camryn Williams smashed a grand slam to center field off Gulf Coast starting pitcher Avery Sanders with no outs in the bottom of the first inning.
After chipping away at the deficit with an unearned run in the second inning and a two-run homer by Sanders off EMCC's AG Stewart a frame later, the Lady Bulldogs moved ahead, 8-4, with five runs in the fourth. The big inning was capped by Jada White's two-run blast off Bryley Rodriguez.
Gulf Coast seemed to put the opening game out of reach with a three-run sixth inning. A two-out RBI single by White was followed by Sanders' two-run double to make it an 11-4 contest.
The Lady Lions closed the gap with five runs over the last two innings. Run-scoring doubles by Carly Thompson and Layton Sills in the sixth narrowed the margin to 11-6. After the bottom of the seventh began quietly with a pair of infield outs, Mollie Singleterry and Williams reached base on walks in front of Thompson's three-run homer to left field. EMCC's first comeback attempt of the day would halt there, however, as Sanders got Sills to fly out with a runner at first for the final out of the game.
Williams, out of White Hall, Arkansas, reached base all five times in the opener with two singles and a pair of walks to go along with her team-leading sixth home run of the year. Thompson, a Germantown High School product, was 2-for-5 at the plate with four runs batted in.
As a team in the opening game, the Lady Lions had 11 hits but left a total of 13 runners on base.
In the nightcap, EMCC had to bounce back from an early 4-0 deficit as the visitors plated a tandem of two-out runs during each of the first two innings. On the heels of White's two-run homer in the first inning off EMCC's Rodriguez, Kaitlynn McGoey followed with a two-run single a frame later.
The Lady Lions got right back into the contest in the bottom half of the second inning. Rebekah Williams' one-out triple started a rally that produced three runs on Megan Cummins' RBI single followed by a two-run single from Singleterry.
It remained a one-run game as the teams traded solo tallies in the third inning. After Gulf Coast pushed across another two-out run on Lauren Hall's infield hit, EMCC's Thompson countered with a leadoff home run for her second homer of the day and third in as many games.
With the Lady Bulldogs maintaining a 5-4 edge, EMCC couldn't take advantage of a two-out scoring opportunity in the bottom of the fourth. After Gulf Coast's Betty Mingo walked the bases loaded, she struck out Thompson to thwart the rally.
The visitors promptly took advantage of an outfield miscue by the Lady Lions to add an insurance run in the fifth inning.
After being set down in order by Mingo in the fifth and sixth innings, EMCC mounted its second seventh-inning rally of the day. Following back-to-back singles by Singleterry and Camryn Williams to begin the frame, Thompson hit a line drive to third that was caught and turned into a double play when pinch-runner Kiera Phillips was doubled off second base. With a runner still on first, Rodriguez then flied out to right field to end the game and secure Gulf Coast's doubleheader road sweep.
Singleterry and Kelsey English led EMCC's eight-hit team effort in the nightcap with two singles apiece. Singleterry, out of Wayne County, reached base all four times in the game by also walking twice.
Coach Kyndall White's EMCC Lady Lions, 9-13 overall and 5-3 in conference play, stay at home to welcome second-ranked Des Moines Area Community College from Iowa for a 3 p.m. Tuesday solo contest on the Scooba campus. East Mississippi will then return to MACJC softball action by playing host to Copiah-Lincoln Community College in a Sunday (March 18) doubleheader set for a 2 p.m. start at the EMCC Softball Field.