Miss Clutch’ comes through again for Vikes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 8, 2002

[01/06/02]Whenever Warren Central’s Marilyn Landers comes to the plate in a key situation, the result is usually the same.

Her initial reaction, however, is a little unusual.

“I panic,” Landers said. “Then I just wait on my pitch and hit it.”

The approach obviously works Landers led the Lady Vikes in batting average (.427), hits (44), triples (7) and home runs (2), and was second in RBIs (32) and runs scored (35). Her efforts helped WC to a 26-9 record this season and a trip to the second round of the playoffs.

For all that, the senior shortstop earned her second straight Vicksburg Post Slow-Pitch Softball Player of the Year award.

“Marilyn is probably one of the purest softball players that has ever played in this area,” WC coach Lucy Young said. “We’ll look back to her as one of the best players that has come through our program. She ranks right up there.”

While Landers’ numbers stand out on their own, she’s really made her mark by coming through in the clutch. She played a big part in all four of WC’s division wins this season, leading the Lady Vikes to the Division 6-5A title:

In a 6-5 win over Vicksburg High on Sept. 6, she got a hit as part of a two-run, seventh-inning rally that tied the game, then made a relay throw to cut down the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the eighth.

One week later, she had two hits and scored a run in a 3-0 win over VHS that clinched a playoff spot for the Lady Vikes.

On Sept. 25 against Natchez, Landers went 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs to lead WC to a 13-5 win.

In a rematch with Natchez on Oct. 2, she came through with a two-out, three-run triple in the bottom of the sixth inning that sent WC to a 3-2, division-clinching win. Landers said it was one of the best games she played this season.

“There’s seldom been a game that she didn’t make a play, get a hit, or make some significant contribution to the outcome of that game,” Young said. “I know if there’s a pressure situation, and there’s one player over the years that I had to put in there, she would be my choice.”

Despite her success in the clutch, Landers said she doesn’t exactly have ice water in her veins. The pressure does get to her at times, but hitting the ball is a great stress reliever.

“I just feel pressure in some games, and some games I just hit,” Landers said. “It seems like when we need it the most is when it comes in.”

Landers has continued to hit and field well throughout her high school career despite several position changes. She has moved from pitcher to third base, to the outfield and then finally to shortstop, where she has played the last two seasons.

“She’s never gotten into one level over four years. She’s continued to improve herself,” Young said.

Landers, who hopes to play fast-pitch softball on the college level, said there wasn’t much choice but to improve as a shortstop too many bad hops were taking their toll.

“I didn’t get hit in the jaw as much this year,” Landers said with a laugh.

Landers credited Young for a big part of her success, but said chemistry was the biggest reason for the Lady Vikes’ run through the playoffs the past two seasons. Led by Landers, WC won the North State title last season and lost to eventual state champion Moss Point again this year.

“Probably having fun with everybody and getting along,” Landers said when asked what her favorite softball memory was. “Because if you get along, you’ll have a good team, but if you don’t get along you can forget it.”