Northeast Mississippi Community College won three of four games played last week in the Breast Cancer Awareness Fall Tournament at Booneville City Park.
Each contest the Tigers competed in was decided by two runs or less. Northeast claimed two of its victories by a margin of only one score.
Ninth-year head coach Jody Long was comforted to see his team respond and finish in pressure situations months before the regular season begins.
“We’ve got a lot of freshman. A lot of times those kids can kinda put their heads between their tails and go the other way, but those kids battled,” he said. “It’s a testament right now to having help and having assistant coaches.
“Coach (Jaisa) Emerson and coach (Haylei) Plummer have made huge impacts on our program so far this fall.”
In the noon lid lifter against Southwest Tennessee Community College, the Tigers fell behind after a four-run third inning by the Saluqis. Tara Comer hit a RBI double that brought Kelsey Cassell home to cap the huge frame.
Northeast responded during the bottom half and cut its deficit in half. Marla Rudd found a gap in right field for a triple that scored Sydney Martin to get the bats warmed up.
The Tigers completed the comeback in the sixth. Becky Robinson led off with a triple and tied the game one batter later on Shannon Goode’s RBI single.
Goode then touched home plate for what would be the decisive run of the matchup on a two-out base hit up the middle by Avery Springer.
Springer secured the victory by setting the Saluqis down in order during their final at bat. She faced the minimum amount of batters possible in three of her four innings pitched and did not allow a hit to claim the win in relief.
“When I went in, we were losing so I knew I had to hold them where we’d have time to come back,” said Springer. “I just knew that I had to throw strikes and keep them off base.”
An impressive two-way performance by Bianca Chagolla led Northeast to a 3-2 triumph over Dyersburg State (Tenn.) Community College in its next contest.
The sophomore tossed a complete game, allowing only six hits and striking out two. She also added a solo home run in the fourth inning to help the Tigers build a 3-0 lead.
“When I went up to bat, I was just looking for that one pitch,” Chagolla said of her long ball. “I actually got my timing right and got that one favorite pitch I like.”
The Lady Eagles tallied both their runs during the final frame, but Chagolla induced a ground out to Haleigh Moffett to record the last out and spoil Dyersburg State’s come-from-behind efforts.
Northeast leaped in front 4-1 after one inning against Southwest Tennessee in its third contest of the afternoon. Trenisha King and Moffett had RBI doubles to the give the Tigers an early advantage.
Bri Agnew added another two-base hit for Northeast in the third that scored Rudd to put the game out of reach for the Saluqis. The Tigers used three pitchers and won 6-4 in a time limit shortened matchup.
Freed-Hardeman University allowed only three hits and shutout Northeast 2-0 to conclude tournament action. The Lady Lions finished last season ranked No. 17 in the NAIA and made a trip to the National Tournament after winning the TranSouth Athletic Conference championship.
Alcorn Central’s Chelsea Buntin was the hard luck loser for the Tigers against Freed-Hardeman. Six of her seven innings pitched were scoreless with five strikeouts and only three walks.
Long was very pleased with the play of his squad overall during their six outings against outside competition this autumn.
“The biggest thing is seeing them grow and seeing them win the close ballgames,” said Long. “We’ve been in some situations where we made mistakes and we overcame them.”
Northeast will wrap up its fall practice period with the annual Black versus Gold intrasquad scrimmage series beginning on Monday