SCOOBA – The East Mississippi Community College softball team put up an early fight against 10th-ranked Itawamba Community College but ultimately dropped 9-4 and 21-10 home decisions to the Lady Indians during Wednesday's MACJC doubleheader action played at the EMCC Softball Field.
Itawamba took advantage of a costly infield error to go on to score three unearned runs off EMCC starting pitcher Britney Bonney in the second inning of the opening game. Consecutive run-scoring hits by Hope Harbin and Mattie Meine capped the three-run inning for the visitors.
After Harbin and Meine struck again two frames later with back-to-back triples to help extend ICC's lead to 5-0, the Lady Lions got on the board with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Hope Thames' leadoff double was later followed by clutch two-out, run-producing hits from Bonney and Kat Reeves.
The margin stayed at two runs an inning later when ICC's unearned run in the top of the fifth was answered by Thames' solo homer – her third of the year – in the home half of the frame.
The Lady Indians then increased their lead to 9-4 by batting through the lineup in the sixth inning. Five singles in the frame produced the three insurance runs, highlighted by successive RBI hits from Summer Cryder, Macey Cox and Kacey Carpenter.
Itawamba pitching ace Olivia Burns then promptly nailed down her 15th victory in 19 decisions on the year by retiring EMCC in order during the sixth and seventh innings.
Offensively for EMCC in the opener, Thames and Mackenzie Dolan combined for four of the Lady Lions' six hits with two hits apiece.
EMCC came out strong again in the high-scoring nightcap by jumping out to an 8-4 lead over Itawamba after three innings. After the teams exchanged unearned runs in the first inning, the Lady Lions took advantage of three walks by ICC starting pitcher Kaylee Nelson to score four runs in the second inning and take a 5-2 lead. Following an RBI single by Kelsey English and a bases-loaded walk to Thames, Dolan capped EMCC's four-run second with a two-out, two-run single.
Both teams then put up multi-run innings in the third to give the Lady Lions a four-run advantage. Meine's leadoff triple led to a pair of ICC runs in the top half, while EMCC's three-run answer in the home half was ignited by Madelyn Wilkes' leadoff home run – her third of the season – off ICC reliever Hannah Swallers. The Lady Lions scored two more times in the inning on Candace Jefferson's sacrifice fly followed by English's second RBI single in as many at-bats to make it an 8-4 contest.
EMCC's lead didn't last long, however, as the Lady Indians sent 17 batters to the plate while scoring a dozen runs in the fourth inning to move ahead, 16-8. Three of ICC's nine hits during the 12-run explosion were RBI doubles by Cox, Rachel Sternisha and Samantha Conley.
After ICC added another run in the fifth, Dolan's team-leading fourth home run of the year – a two-out, two-run shot off ICC's Mary Kate Butler – made it 17-10. The visitors answered right back to tack on four more runs in the sixth and reach the run-rule margin.
Dolan and English led EMCC's nine-hit team effort with two hits apiece in the nightcap.
Coach Austin McNair's EMCC Lady Lions, 7-22 overall and 7-17 in conference play, will close out their regular-season softball campaign with home doubleheaders versus Southwest Mississippi on Saturday (1 p.m.) and third-ranked Jones College on Friday, May 3 (4 p.m.).