The East Central Community College softball team survived its first elimination game Friday but could not survive the second as the Lady Warriors' 2018 season came to an end in the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 23 Tournament played May 10-12 on the campus of Itawamba Community College in Fulton.
The tournament featured four of the top 10 ranked teams in the nation. In addition to No. 10 East Central, No. 2 LSU-Eunice, No. 3 Itawamba Community College, and No. 4 Jones County Junior College made up the Region 23 bracket. Two teams will advance from the region tournament to play at the NJCAA Division II Softball Championship May 16-19 at Traceway Park in Clinton.
No. 4 seed East Central opened the tournament Thursday, May 10, with a tough 4-3 loss to No. 1 seed Jones County. The Lady Bobcats scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth to overtake the Lady Warriors and earn the win.
East Central then faced the Itawamba Lady Indians Friday afternoon in an elimination game and came away with a 12-7 win. Thirty minutes later, the Lady Warriors took on LSU-Eunice and fell 6-2 to end their season with a 36-14 record.
In its opening game of the tournament against Jones County, East Central took a 1-0 lead in the first on a bunt single from Madalyn McMahon of Neshoba Central that scored Shelby Walters of Northwest Rankin who opened the game with a double.
After Jones County took a 2-1 lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third, East Central regained the lead with two runs in the top of the fifth. It was Walters and McMahon again. Walters brought in a run with a sacrifice fly, and McMahon gave the Lady Warriors a 3-2 lead with an RBI single.
Jones grabbed the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth, scoring on a home run and an East Central error.
East Central pitcher Kaitlyn Oswalt out of Heritage Academy in Columbus scattered nine hits and struck out three batters in taking the loss in the circle.
Against Itawamba, East Central pounded out 13 hits and scored multiple runs in four innings.
Eva Scott (Burleson, Texas, Centennial) tripled in two runs in the first and Kenyatta Moore of Philadelphia tripled in a run in the third. Two more runs scored in the third on a Walters' sacrifice fly and a single from Kayla Beckham of Neshoba Central.
The Lady Indians battled back and by the top of the fifth inning had a 6-5 lead. The Lady Warriors responded with three more runs in the bottom of the frame, thanks to sacrifice flies from Tagen Remmel of Clinton and Katherine Shell of Brookhaven and a single from Walters.
East Central finally put the game away in the bottom of the sixth with four runs, the big blow being a three-run homer off the bat of Shell. Mackenzie Johnson out of Nanih Waiya also drove in a run with a single.
Johnson, Shell, Moore and Scott all had multiple hits in the win.
Oswalt got the win with three innings of relief work, giving up just one hit while in the circle. Oswalt and Mackenzie Rousseau (Houma, La., Vanderbilt Catholic) held Itawamba to just four hits in the game.
East Central immediately returned to action in another elimination game against the LSU-Eunice Bengals. The game was scoreless after two innings before the Bengals put four runs on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third inning.
The Lady Warriors trimmed that lead to 4-2 in the top of the sixth on a Scott single and an LSU-Eunice error, before the Bengals scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth and got the 6-2 win.
Oswalt went the distance in the circle and took the loss. Over the two days, she pitched 15 of the 19 innings for the Lady Warriors.