RAYMOND – With both games being decided in the final inning, the East Mississippi Community College softball team split Friday's MACJC road doubleheader with Hinds at Rene T. Warren Field. After pulling out a 3-2 win in the opener, the Lady Lions' valiant comeback effort in the seventh inning of the nightcap was denied in a heartbreaking 8-7 loss to the Lady Eagles.
EMCC grabbed the lead in the opening game with solo runs in the second and fourth innings off Hinds starting pitcher Cecilia Akin. Freshman Bryley Rodriguez led off both innings with hits and came around to score on a misplayed bunt attempt in the second inning and again on Kelsey English's two-out single two frames later.
Hinds countered with a pair of runs off EMCC starting pitcher AG Stewart in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at 2-2. Following back-to-back singles by Brooke Patterson and Nikki Skerlong, the Lady Eagles plated the unearned runs on an infield error and subsequent double steal.
After a pair of scoreless innings, the Lady Lions scored the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh when Ashley Vickers drew a one-out walk and scored on Mollie Singleterry's RBI double to left field.
Meanwhile in the circle, EMCC's Stewart faced the minimum through the first three innings and then retired the last eight batters she faced en route to tossing a three-hitter and evening her record to 6-6 on the year. The Pisgah High School product struck out two and walked only one during her complete-game victory.
Singleterry and Rodriguez led EMCC's seven-hit team effort in the opener with two hits apiece.
The Lady Eagles bounced back to stake starting pitcher Bryanna Luke to an early 6-1 lead in the nightcap by scoring four times in the first inning and adding two unearned runs in the second. Hinds batted around in the first to score four runs on five hits off EMCC's Rodriguez.
The visitors chipped away at the early five-run deficit by scoring solo tallies in the fifth and sixth innings. Rodriguez's second double of the game and third of the day drove home Vickers in the fifth, while a sacrifice fly by English a frame later made the score 7-3 heading to the dramatic seventh inning.
In the top of the seventh, walks by Hinds reliever Lizzy Lloyd to Camryn Williams and pinch-hitter Avery Bouchillon set the stage for EMCC's thrilling game-tying efforts. A two-out RBI single by Layton Sills was followed by Rebekah Williams' clutch two-run double to pull the visitors to within a run. English's grounder to third was then thrown away at first base allowing the tying run to score from second.
The drama continued into the bottom half of the inning. After Hinds' Madeleine Hart led off with a single, pinch-runner Beth Martin was bunted over to second. Tica Watts followed with a single up the middle, but EMCC's Vickers threw out Martin at the plate to temporarily keep the game tied. With Watts advancing to second on the throw home for the second out, Kasy Cortezie then singled to left as Watts was able to slide under Sills' tag at home plate for the winning run.
The Lady Lions had four players with multiple hits in the 11-hit team outing, while Rodriguez took the tough-luck, complete-game loss to fall to 6-9 for the season.
Coach Kyndall White's EMCC Lady Lions, 12-17 overall and 8-6 in conference action, play host to Northeast Mississippi in a 3 p.m. Monday doubleheader on the Scooba campus.