FULTON – The visiting Lions of East Mississippi Community College had their chances against Itawamba Community College but came out on the short end of a 2-1, 6-1 MACJC softball sweep at the hands of the fourth-ranked Indians Tuesday afternoon on the ICC campus.
In the opening game, Itawamba took advantage of a pair of infield errors by the visitors to take a 2-0 lead on Samantha Conley's sacrifice fly in the first inning and a two-out RBI double by Macey Cox in the fourth.
After being limited to just one hit through the first four innings by ICC starting pitcher Bailie Springfield, the Lions had scoring opportunities during each of the last three frames. They first had two runners on base with one out in the fifth before a pop-up bunt attempt to first base resulted in an inning-ending double play. The following frame, EMCC recovered from a line drive double play with consecutive singles by Ashley Vickers and Mollie Singleterry before an infield pop-out ended the threat.
The Lions did get on the board in their final at-bat when Carly Thompson was hit by a pitch to lead off the seventh and was tripled home by Layton Sills for her second hit of the game. The potential tying run was stranded at third, however, as Springfield retired the next two batters to halt the rally and preserve the one-run victory for ICC.
Not to be outdone in the pitchers' duel, EMCC's AG Stewart limited the Indians to just three hits along with the two unearned runs. The sophomore right-hander out of Pisgah High School struck out two with no walks in six innings of work in the circle.
To their credit, the Lions bounced right back to score first in the nightcap off ICC starter Olivia Burns. EMCC's Kelsey English led off the second game with a hit and was bunted over by Vickers before scoring on Singleterry's RBI single.
The Indians promptly answered by scoring three times in the bottom of the first inning off EMCC starting pitcher Bryley Rodriguez. Run-scoring singles by Conley and Cox were followed by a two-out RBI double from Shelby Newsom, who added a solo home run in the third to make it a 4-1 contest.
While Itawamba was adding solo tallies in the fourth and sixth innings off Stewart, the Lions couldn't reach Burns for any additional runs during the remainder of the nightcap. Over the final six innings, only one EMCC runner reached third base en route to leaving 10 runners on base as a team for the game.
The Lions did generate eight hits in the second contest, led by Singleterry and Kiera Phillips with two singles apiece.
Fighting for an MACJC playoff spot as the regular-season conference slate winds down, Coach Kyndall White's 17-22 EMCC Lions are 13-11 in conference play and will travel to Summit to take on Southwest Mississippi in a 3 p.m. Friday road doubleheader.