Northwest Rankin sweeps Vicksburg, WC

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Courtney Prentiss connects with a pitch as Northwest Rankin catcher Kristi Gibbs looks on Tuesday. Northwest won, 6-2.(The Vicksburg Post/VICTOR SUMERALL)

[08/21/02]Last week, rain put a damper on Vicksburg High’s slow-pitch softball home opener. This time it was the Northwest Rankin bats as the Lady Cougars beat VHS 6-2 Tuesday at Halls Ferry Park.

Three early errors in the top of the first cost the Missy Gators (0-3) two runs, and a stagnant offense allowed the Cougars (5-1), the Class 5A state runner-ups in 2001, to hold the lead after they had beaten Warren Central in an early game, 6-4.

Viola Howard put the Missy Gators on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth with a two-RBI triple that scored Courtney Prentiss and Brandi Parker. But the Cougars closed the door on any possible comeback by snuffing the late rally on a two-out pop fly, and finished the bottom of the seventh with three straight outs.

“We just had some mental errors, but our hitting is improving a little at a time, and defense is getting a little better each time,” said Missy Gators pitcher Kelsey Hudson, who took the loss. “But we still have to work on them a little bit more.”

Cherrelle Stamps went 2-for-2 and Viola Howard had a triple for Vicksburg. Stamps said the lack of hitting was due in part to nerves.

“We were just anxious for the first home game of the season,” she said.

It showed early.

The Missy Gators committed eight errors and only one Northwest Rankin run came by way of an RBI. Vicksburg was outhit 8-6.

“I think my defense, it’s not solid, but it’s better than I ever thought it would be,” Missy Gators’ coach Laquitta Smith said. “I have two seniors on my team, that’s it. My infield is mostly ninth graders. So I’m happy with my defense.

“I think the hitting was the key factor. It was the key factor for every game.”

Kristen Navarra carried a shutout into the bottom of the sixth before Vicksburg tried to rally.

“We hit the ball better today than we did the last two or three games, and made a pitching change, pitching Kristen Navarra,” Northwest Rankin assistant coach Kandy Stringer said. “And Kristen pitched two really, really good games. And then we had hits when our runners were on base, that’s the key. In slow pitch, you just got to hit.”