Barnett’s heroics set tone for Lady Vikes

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 15, 2002

[04/14/02]Warren Central opened its first playoff series like nervous rookies Saturday, but seemed like veterans by the end of the day.

Katie Barnett’s two-out, two-strike, two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning gave WC a 3-2 win over Northwest Rankin in Game 1, and the Lady Vikes wrapped up the series with a 10-0 victory in the second game of the doubleheader.

WC (25-2) will open the second round at home on Thursday against Starkville, a 5-1 and 1-0 winner over Olive Branch.

“After coming off that big win, pulling it off at the end, we had a lot of confidence going into that second game. All the jitters were off,” said WC coach Lucy Young, whose players drenched her with a Gatorade shower after the second game. “Every step now speaks so much for how hard these girls have worked and what a great group of athletes these girls are.”

Barnett went 3-for-5 with a triple and three RBIs in Game 2, Ashley Chaney was 2-for-3 with an RBI, and Anna Mitchell was 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI.

Lauren Anderson threw the shutout, allowing only three hits and one walk while striking out three. She pitched out of a pair of early jams Northwest Rankin (14-14) left three runners in scoring position in the first three innings and retired 14 of the last 15 batters she faced.

“We didn’t get the big hits when we needed them,” Northwest coach Kandy Stringer said.

The Lady Vikes did, however, and also took advantage of several questionable calls to blow the game open.

After taking a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning, WC loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth. Shortstop Hayley Martin hit a foul pop-up near the first base dugout, and Northwest pitcher Jennifer Johnson caught it on the run for the first out. Johnson’s momentum took her into the dugout, however, and the home plate umpire ruled the play dead and awarded each Lady Vike an extra base.

Ashley Vinzant came in to score on the play, and WC added two more runs on a wild pitch and an RBI single by Barnett to make it 5-0.

“I looked it up, and there are four different interpretations of that rule. It’s a playoff game, and I thought he should have asked his partner,” Stringer said.

An RBI single by Keisha Blue made it 6-0 in the fifth, and WC added another run in the sixth on Mitchell’s RBI double. The relay throw on Mitchell’s hit beat Ashley Chaney to the plate, and Northwest catcher Beth Bilbro appeared to have the base blocked, but Chaney somehow got in under the tag.

“It was a bad call,” Stringer said. “I know they’re going to miss some, but at least be in a position to make the call.”

Young cleared the WC bench in the seventh and the Lady Vikes finished the scoring with three runs. Two scored on Barnett’s triple to left-center.

“We didn’t make the errors and we had base runners. We took advantage of their mistakes,” Young said.

WC 3, NW Rankin 2

The Lady Vikes were on the brink of going down a game in the series in game one when their two-out rally started.

Candice McKay delivered a pinch-hit single, Marilyn Landers reached on an error and Barnett followed with her double to score both runners and give the Lady Vikes the win.

“I just got up there and cleared my mind and just hit. I love the pressure,” said Barnett, who was 1-for-3 with three RBIs in the game.

Anderson got the win, allowing seven hits and one walk while striking out six in six innings. Johnson took the loss, but didn’t allow any earned runs or walks in seven innings.

The teams traded unearned runs in the fifth inning before Northwest took advantage of two WC errors to take a 2-1 lead in the sixth. That set the stage for Barnett’s late heroics, which also propelled WC to the win in game two.

“We made a couple of simple errors that let them get in there,” Young said. “We were able to come back and win that ballgame, and it let them come into this second game with a lot more confidence.”

Although the Lady Vikes were riding high on Saturday, Barnett said the momentum shouldn’t carry over to the next series.

“It ends at the next one, because every team is different,” she said.