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Lady Vikes beat VHS, earn playoff berth

Lyn Strawn, left, and Marilyn Landers of WC slap gloves after Strawn caught a popup in the fifth inning.(The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[9/14/01]A rare slow-pitch pitchers’ duel Thursday afternoon put the Warren Central Lady Vikes in the playoffs.

Hayley Martin allowed one hit and WC (14-2, 2-0 Division 3-5A) committed one error in a 3-0 win over archrival Vicksburg (6-8, 0-3).

“Both pitchers did an outstanding job,” WC coach Lucy Young said. “When they are able to throw the pitches with such a big arc, the batters aren’t able to get … around.”

Vicksburg pitcher Dayna Nugent scattered seven hits and VHS trailed just 1-0 in the sixth inning.

VHS got a sixth-inning single from Shannon Arnold, but she was doubled-up at second base after a groundout by Wendy Womble.

“This blows my mind,” said first-year Vicksburg coach Jennifer Wilkerson, whose team is now in a desperate fight for the playoffs. “To be honest, I really don’t know what happened out there.”

Warren Central scored one in the bottom of the first and added two runs in the sixth. The Lady Vikes have two games against division foe Natchez on the horizon and Young said she needs to see more consistency from her offense.

“We have a very good group of hitters,” Young said. “We need to get hits from the whole lineup and that’s what we’re working on. We are far from being as good as we can be.”

Marilyn Landers, the 2000 Vicksburg Post Player of the Year, had a pair of singles and a scored a run. Landers’ sixth-inning single opened the door for WC to put the game out of reach.

Ashley Chaney led off the sixth with a single, followed by Landers’ hit. A pair of Missy Gators’ errors and a fielder’s choice led to both Landers and Candice McKay, who was running for Chaney, to score.

Landers had the only RBI, a first-inning flyout that scored Katie Barnett, who had singled.

“This was a good, tight defensive game,” Young said. “I’m real proud of the way we played and now we have to continue to work.”

Martin took a perfect game into the top of the third when Womble reached on an error, but she was forced at second for the third out.

Martin then retired the next eight batters before Arnold’s leadoff single in the sixth.

“We practice hitting every day,” Wilkerson said. “I guess we have to hit some more and figure a way to get out of this slump.”

For the Missy Gators to make the playoffs, they must beat Natchez in their final division game by more than two runs, then have WC sweep the Lady Bulldogs.

WC can earn home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs with a sweep of Natchez.