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Lady Vikes slip by Natchez, win division

[9/22/04]Warren Central coach Lucy Young chastised her players and had them run laps around the outfield following Tuesday’s game. In the opposite dugout, Natchez coach Charlie Williams was praising his team for playing its best game of the season.

An odd turn of events for a night where Warren Central won 5-4 to sweep Division 6-5A, claim the district championship and a home series in the playoffs.

“The level of play tonight, I had expected so much more for our performance,” Young said. “You’ve got the division championship on the line. You’re playing for a trophy, a patch for division champion to go on your jacket. There’s a lot of incentives, and we played down to our opponents’ level.

“At this point in time, that’s not acceptable.”

WC (17-6) can credit its defense for the win on a day when the offense struggled. The Lady Vikes had four errors, but three came on one play in the second inning, which allowed a run to score.

“The defense kept us in it and Saleda pitched well,” Young said. “That, of course, helped. But if we played that solid defense and just added some hitting to the game, we would win by margins.”

The Lady Vikes scattered nine hits, but couldn’t come through with clutch swings when runners were on. They left the bases loaded in both the third and sixth innings and stranded 12 runners in the game six in scoring position.

“I had pictured us, at will, putting the ball wherever we wanted it to go,” Young said. “I don’t know why we didn’t have the intensity that we should have had. It was just like this was just another day.”

The Lady Vikes were helped by eight Natchez errors.

“Frankly, I don’t think any of us should be happy with our performance,” said WC outfielder Brittany Fuller, who was 2-for-3 with a walk. “We didn’t hit as well. We didn’t hustle all out and make some key plays that we normally would have made.”

Natchez (8-8) had chances to win the game in both the sixth and seventh innings.

In the top of the sixth, the Lady Dawgs scored a pair of runs to tie the game at 3 on a double by Chelsea Hall, but could have had more. Sarah Weaver tagged up at second base on a fly to left-center and Cookie Johnson gunned her out at third base by about five steps.

“I told her to go back for the tag, and she figured that me saying to go back for the tag means she’s supposed to run,” Williams said. “But the play was right in front of her. She should have been able to see that she couldn’t make it.”

Warren Central got a spark with pinch-hitters Bridget Dillon and Carla Latham both reaching base to lead off the bottom frame. Tiffany Fuller brought in Dillon on a fielder’s choice, and Johnson walked with the bases loaded for Latham to score the winning run.

In the seventh, Natchez loaded the bases and brought in a run to to cut the lead to 5-4. With the bases juiced again, cleanup hitter Tracey Davis came to the plate, but she popped up to first base to end the game.

“We had the person up there we wanted, but it just wasn’t to be,” Williams said. “I’m not upset with them. We played a good game, one of the better games we’ve played this year.”

WC faces tough competition Madison Central, Clinton and Cleveland the rest of the way in preparation for the playoffs.

Natchez plays Vicksburg on Sept. 30 with a playoff spot on the line.

“We’ve just got to beat them,” Williams said. “We can’t let them beat us by two runs. We’re going to take care of business against Vicksburg. They’re ain’t no ifs, ands or buts about it.”