It was a week late, but the East Central Community College softball team finally got to play at home, and the Lady Warriors gave new head coach Eric Neel his first two wins at home and first sweep of the season over the visiting Bevill State Lady Bears.
The Lady Warriors opened the season with 12 road games before finally taking the field at the ECCC Softball Park in Decatur Tuesday, March 12. East Central beat the visitors from Sumiton, Ala., 2-0 in the opener and 6-4 in game two.
The Lady Warriors are now 9-5 on the season, while NJCAA Division I Bevill State is 5-13.
Game one was a scoreless pitchers' duel until the sixth inning when East Central plated the winning runs. After back-to-back singles by a pair of freshmen, right fielder Olivia Houston (Northwest Rankin) and shortstop Hannah Dufault (Hurley, East Central), freshman catcher Anna McNeer (Canton Academy) would bring Houston home with a sacrifice fly to right field. Dufault later stole home to give the Lady Warriors the only two runs they would need.
Houston had two of East Central's five hits in game one.
Freshman Jesalyn Jarrette (Baskin, La., Franklin Academy) got the shutout win in the circle. In six and two thirds innings, she gave up just three hits. Only twice in the game did Bevill State runners advance past first base. McNeer threw out runners attempting to steal second base in both the top of the fifth and seventh innings.
East Central appeared it might put game two away early with six runs in the first three innings. The Lady Warriors got a run in the first on a McNeer sacrifice fly and another in the second on a ground out by freshman first baseman Kailee Swindle (Hattiesburg, Presbyterian School). Leading 2-1, East Central would score four more times in the bottom of the third. Freshman third baseman MaKenzie Barnett (Neshoba Central) doubled in two runs, McNeer doubled in a run, and freshman left fielder Kaylee Webb (Ruston, La.) brought another run in on a fielder's choice bunt.
Bevill State closed the final score to 6-4 with a run in the top of the fourth and two more in the top of the sixth, before freshman Brooklyn King (George County) came to the circle to get the final five outs of the game. Freshman Braelyn Boykin (Mize) got the start and the win for East Central.
Houston was again the only Lady Warrior with multiple hits in the nightcap with two. McNeer threw out two more runners attempting to steal second and third.
The Lady Warriors will take a few days off before hosting No. 1 ranked Jones College for a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20. East Central will then travel to Scooba to play East Mississippi at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 23.