MERIDIAN – The East Mississippi Community College softball team battled rival Meridian down to the wire twice before dropping a pair of hard-luck decisions, 5-4 and 10-7 in eight innings, to the Lady Eagles during Wednesday's MACJC conference action played at Tommy McDonald Field.
In the opening contest, EMCC had to fight back from an early 4-0 deficit. After Meridian went up 1-0 in the first inning when leadoff batter Keirra Fair doubled, stole third and came around to score on an errant throw, the Lady Eagles extended their lead to 4-0 in the third on Megan Lightcap's two-out, three-run homer off EMCC starting pitcher Britney Bonney.
The Lady Lions batted through the order in the fifth inning with a chance to tie the game or perhaps take the lead. Four consecutive hits, capped by Hope Thames' two-run double, produced three runs off MCC starting pitcher Kaitlyn Parrish. However, EMCC left the bases loaded on an inning-ending groundout.
After Meridian got one of the runs back in the bottom of the fifth on Lightcap's two-out RBI single to make it 5-3, the visitors had another opportunity to at least pull even in the top of the seventh. Doubles by Megan Cummins and Mackenzie Dolan made it a one-run game with only one out and the potential tying run in scoring position. But, Dolan was left stranded at third base to seal the game one victory for the home-standing Lady Eagles.
More late-game drama would follow in the nightcap that was extended an extra inning to break a deadlock. The game's first tie came in the third inning when the two teams traded four-run rallies. Dolan's three-run homer off Hayleigh Rogers capped EMCC's big inning, while Aahliya Jones' two-out, two-run double off Hadlee Lewis highlighted the home half for Meridian.
The Lady Eagles reclaimed the lead with two runs in the fourth inning, while the Lady Lions promptly answered with a pair of scores of their own a frame later to knot the score at 6-6.
EMCC manufactured its first lead of the nightcap when Avery Bouchillon led off the sixth with a walk before stealing second, moving to third on an infield out and then scoring on Riley Huckaby's sacrifice bunt.
Meridian looked to be in good shape to perhaps pull out the nightcap victory in regulation by loading the bases to begin the bottom of the seventh. However, EMCC's Bonney came in to minimize the damage by inducing a double play that would limit the Lady Eagles to just the tying run and extend the contest.
A double play would then thwart EMCC's chances of breaking the tie in the top of the eighth prior to the Lady Eagles taking their turn in the bottom half of the frame. A leadoff double by MCC's Jaelynn Palmer was essentially negated when she was thrown out at third on a subsequent fielder's choice. After Bonney struck out Fair for the second out of the inning, Jackie Lahaie singled to center to set up the game-winner for Meridian. With runners on first and second, Miracle Crosby smacked a three-run, walk-off homer over the center field wall to account for the final score and secure the doubleheader sweep.
Coach Austin McNair's EMCC Lady Lions, 7-17 overall and 7-12 in conference play, are slated to play host to Hinds on Monday afternoon in the resumption of the second game of a doubleheader that was postponed earlier this month due to rain. EMCC-Hinds game time is set for 1:30 p.m. on the Scooba campus and will precede a rescheduled 3:30 p.m. home softball doubleheader versus Pearl River that was also previously postponed earlier this month because of rain.