Northwest Closes Regular Season with Split at East Mississippi
April 21, 2012By Kevin Maloney of NORTHWEST MISSISSIPPI COMMUNITY COLLEGE
SCOOBA – Northwest wrapped up the 2012 regular season on Friday afternoon in Scooba, squandering an early three-run lead with a 4-3 loss in the opener before bouncing back with a 10-5 victory in the finale thanks to a nine-run sixth inning. | Watch Replay
Northwest wrapped up the regular season 29-9-1 overall and 18-6 in the north division, earning the north's No. 2 seed in next week's state tournament. East Mississippi finished 18-23 overall and 12-12 in the division, going 7-1 down the stretch to earn the north's No. 4 seed.
The Rangers took a 3-0 lead in the third inning of game one off Misty Richard, scoring on Lauren Riley's sac fly in the first and adding two more in the third thanks to back-to-back RBI-walks issued to Natalie Smock and Riley.
EMCC began to slowly chip away at the deficit in the bottom of the frame, taking advantage of an uncharacteristic four consecutive walks from starter Casey Baddley to pull within 3-1.
Shelby Sheppard, who entered in relief for Richard in the third, immediately made her presence felt by fanning a pair of Rangers. The freshman kept the Lady Lions close the rest of the way and Northwest off the bases, allowing just three hits while striking out six.
With the momentum clearly favoring the home team, EMCC closed the gap to 3-2 two innings later when sophomore Cory Roberson delivered a clutch two-out single to right field to bring home Haley Tutor.
The Lady Lions would then cap the come-from-behind win in the sixth while Sheppard held the Rangers in check. Shelby Whitt led off the frame with a single, advanced to second on a throwing error, was sacrificed to third and tied the game at 3-3 thanks to Amber Spann's one-out double. After a groundout, EMCC would then take advantage of another Ranger miscue, scoring on a mishandled routine fly ball to right for the game-winning run.
Northwest threatened to tie the game in the seventh, putting two runners on thanks to one-out singles from Anna Barham and Hillari Plummer. Linsey Hebert's fielder's choice to short appeared to load the bases with one out, but the base umpire blatanly blew a call at second and called Plummer out. The game ended a batter later on a strikeout.
EMCC carried the momentum of the comeback win in game one into a 5-1 lead in the sixth of game two.
With a two-out, two-run double by Tutor and run-scoring singles from Spann and Paige Sheppard during a four-run fifth inning, EMCC appeared to be in control with Sheppard seemingly in a groove during her game two starting assignment in the circle.
Northwest sent 14 runners to the plate in the inning and filed through three EMCC pitchers, using three RBI-singles and a pair of RBI-doubles from Hebert and Riley.
Stormy Robison (4-2) tossed the first complete-game of her career in the nightcap and also went 3-for-4 at the plate, shaking off the disappointment of a defensive blunder in game one.
Plummer finished the day 4-for-9 at the plate with three runs scored, moving into first all-time in school history in hits (105) and runs scored (82).
Northwest will now turn its attention to the state tournament April 26-27 in Fulton. The Rangers will open play on Thursday at noon against 14th-ranked East Central (31-14).