Meridian Star

Sports

April 3, 2014

East Central softball sweeps MCC

DECATUR — When the East Central Community College softball team made it rain, they made it pour.

And all Meridian Community College could do was watch both games of their doubleheader slip away Wednesday afternoon.

East Central spread its scoring around in Game 1 against MCC in a 10-2 win, then used a big fifth inning to propel itself to an 11-3 win in Game 2.

In the first game, East Central jumped out to a 3-0 lead when Mallory Turner scored on a double by Lindsey Beard and Hayley Stephens connected on a two-run double. The Lady Warriors extended their lead to 5-0 when Stephens again hit a two-run double in the bottom of the second inning.

In the bottom of third inning, Kaylin Hopkins came home on a throwing error during a pickoff attempt at third base, making it 6-0 East Central. MCC finally got on the board in the top of the fourth when Paige Gibson scored on a passed ball.

In the top of the fifth, MCC cut East Central’s lead to 6-2 on Cheyenne Barefoot’s RBI double. But that would be the last run scored for the Lady Eagles, as East Central added three runs in the bottom of the fifth and one run in the bottom of the sixth to force the eight-runs-after-five mercy rule.

“I thought we came out loose and played well,” East Central coach Kristin Chaney said after Game 1. “Overall, I think we had very good at-bats.”

Kendra Wilson got the win for the Lady Warriors, going give innings and surrendering two runs on four hits. She also had three walks and four strikeouts.

MCC starter Kelsey Rogers took the loss after being pulled in the first inning. She only got one out and surrendered three runs on four hits before being replaced by Lyndsey Cannon, who pitched the rest of the game. MCC head coach Faith Robinson said Rogers wasn’t able to hit her spots, so she pulled her in order to limit East Central’s damage.

“I tried to keep the girls’ momentum up and keep their heads up,” Robinson said. “That’s what we’ve been struggling with. Once we get behind, we start to doubt ourselves and doubt our talent, because we’re young.”

For East Central, Turner and Beard both finished 2-for-4, and Ty Buckley was 2-for-3 with a double. Hayley Stephens went 2-for-3 with two doubles, and Kaylin Hopkins finished 2-for-4 with a triple. Karoline Holsonback also had a double.

No one for MCC had more than one hit. Barefoot and Casey Bolton both had doubles.

In Game 2, East Central trailed 3-2 going into the bottom of the fifth inning before the Lady Warriors exploded for nine runs to take an 11-3 lead and again force the eight-runs-after-five mercy rule.

“I think we sat back and finally got our timing on (the ball) and swung at good pitches,” Chaney said of her team’s approach in the fifth inning. “We relaxed, and we finally refocused when we knew Meridian would give us a good ball game.”

Beard got things started for East Central by drawing a bases-loaded walk to tie the game 3-3. Stephens followed that up with an RBI single, and another run scored on her hit due to a fielding error. The big hit of the game, though, was Morgan Porter’s three-run home run that made it 8-3 East Central.

Later in the inning, Hopkins singled in two more runs, and Anna Katherine Nowell had the game-winning double that scored the speedy Hopkins, ending the game at 11-3.

All nine runs for East Central in the fifth came with two outs, something Chaney said she made her especially proud.

“It’s the same thing we’ve been doing all year,” she said. “We’ve been steadfast and believed in one another. That’s a testament to our team — we’re never out of it no matter how many outs there is.”

Robinson said things spiraled out of control once East Central put a few runs on the board in the fifth.

“We had a chance to get out of it with the lead,” Robinson said. “We have to learn how to finish a ball game. We had East Central beat — the momentum was in our favor — and we walked in the trying run, which we just can’t do.”

After pitching most of Game 1, Cannon pitched the entirety of Game 2 for MCC. She took the loss, surrendering 11 runs on eight while walking five and striking out one.

Wilson got the win again in Game 2, pitching 1 2/3 innings and giving up no runs on no hits. She had three walks and four strikeouts. Makayla Kelly started the game for East Central, going 3 1/3 innings and giving p three runs on three hits while fanning three batters.

Stephens was 2-for-2 in Game 2, and Holsonback and Hopkins both went 2-for-3.

For MCC, Chelsea Moore was 2-for-3 with a home run.

East Central (27-9) will play at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Saturday, while MCC will host Pearl River Community College Saturday.

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