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Missy Gators’ comeback falls short

Vicksburg’s Heather Shelby prepares to field a ground ball at shortstop during the Missy Gators’ loss to Natchez.(Meredith SpencerThe Vicksburg Post)

[9/15/04]Just when any comeback seemed completely hopeless, Vicksburg started to rally. Down 16-7 to Natchez entering the bottom of the seventh inning, the Missy Gators scored eight runs to cut it to a one-run game.

JaWanda Bingham then stepped to the plate with runners on second and third and one out. The win was within reach, but a surprising double play cost Vicksburg the game and they fell to the Lady Dawgs 16-15 on Tuesday.

“It was an unbelievable game,” said VHS coach Kori Crutchfield, whose team scored a season high 15 runs. “It was the best game we’ve played all season. I believe we should have won that game. Had we stepped up earlier, we definitely would have won, but I’m proud of the fact that they came back and they never gave up.”

The win puts Natchez in second place behind Warren Central at 1-1 in Division 6-5A.

“I’m thankful that we got out of here with a win, but we’re still not playing up to our potential,” Natchez coach Charlie Williams said.

Vicksburg falls to third place at 0-3 in division play, but could still reach the playoffs. A Natchez loss to Warren Central and a Vicksburg victory over Natchez by more than two runs would send the Missy Gators into the postseason.

“The fact that they know they have a chance of going to the playoffs has changed our spirit, has changed our momentum to play the game,” Crutchfield said. “I believe that was a big, huge turnaround for us tonight.”

Bingham hit a soft line drive to Natchez shortstop Chelsea Hill, which she caught for the second out. But as soon as Bingham hit the ball, Erica Woodson took off from third base. Hill fired to third for the out, but the throw was high and pulled Taneshia Coach off the bag.

Woodson slid back and Coach placed down the tag. The umpires initially ruled Woodson safe, but conferred at second base and reversed the call because Coach touched third base before Woodson got back, resulting in a force play and the game’s final out.

“These people have played before and they should know if it’s a fly ball to stay on the base,” Crutchfield said. “But I blame it on myself. I was more caught up in getting that hitter to hit than I was on informing my runner.”

VHS outhit Natchez 18-15, with a pair of four-hit performances by Amy Harrigill and Kaci Flaharty, but committed 10 errors.

With the score tied at 3 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, Vicksburg pounded out four runs on three hits and two errors.

Natchez came back with five runs on four VHS errors in the top of the fifth to take an 8-7 lead. Four of the five runs came with two outs on a string of three consecutive miscues.

In the sixth, the Lady Dawgs added seven runs on six hits and four more Missy Gator errors. Natchez sent 11 batters to the plate in taking a 16-7 advantage.

After holding Natchez scoreless in the seventh, Vicksburg totaled eight runs on five hits, three walks and two Natchez errors. The Missy Gators brought seven runs in before Natchez recorded an out.

“We hit the ball well today, but we’re still making too many mental mistakes,” Williams said.