Warren Central softball scoring runs at a remarkable rate

Published 9:47 am Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Warren Central has put up some respectable scores this season.

10-7. 15-3. 9-0. 15-0. 25-3. 27-0.

The football team has done pretty well, too.

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All of those scores are from victories for Warren Central’s slow-pitch softball team. The Lady Vikes are scoring runs not just in bunches, but by the truckload, as they make a push toward the Division 3-5A/6A championship and hopefully a lot more.

Warren Central will play a doubleheader Tuesday at Clinton and can clinch the division title with one win. They’ve already beaten Clinton 12-2 in their first meeting this season.

“It’s hard to stop a team that’s hitting. When we get in that zone, we’re in it,” shortstop Cocoa Fultz said after the Lady Vikes beat Vicksburg 16-1 last week in a game that lasted barely a half-hour before the mercy rule kicked in in the third inning. “It feels so good. It feels like we’re that championship team.”

Warren Central (13-4) has played 17 games this season, and only been held to single digits four times. One of those was a five-inning, 9-4 loss to George County in a game shortened by a tournament time limit. Two other times they scored seven and nine runs.

The Lady Vikes outscored division rival Greenville 52-3 in two meetings this season, including a 27-0 rout last week.

As a team, Warren Central is hitting .420 and is averaging nearly 11 runs per game. They have 77 extra base hits, and five players have hit at least one home run. Four regular starters — Megan Stewart, Kasy Cortezie, Sarah Kate Smith and Fultz — are hitting .500 or better. Morgan Stewart is hitting .490.

“If you can consistently score 15 runs or better every game, then absolutely that makes you hard to beat,” Warren Central coach Dana McGivney said.

The surge is especially surprising for a team that was proficient, but hardly an offensive juggernaut last season. Players credited team chemistry and a better mental approach to hitting for their improvement.

“We did pretty good last year, but in years past we haven’t,” said Smith, who is batting .509 with 12 doubles, three home runs and 21 RBIs. “It’s just been a mental thing. I think we work more together as a team this year. We’re all really close. We’re all like sisters this year, more than in years past.”

If there’s one down side to the Lady Vikes’ remarkable run thus far, it’s that they might be doing too well. Smith and Fultz said making an out tends to linger in their minds longer than it should, and the pressure builds to do better instead of flushing away a bad at-bat.

“That’s all you think about, is I should have gotten a hit there or I should have gotten a hit there to help our team out,” Smith said.

Fultz, picking up the thought, added, “It’s a bad thing, because we’re thinking about that instead of throwing the brick and just keep going. It wouldn’t hurt to just throw it away.”

Fortunately, those times have been pretty rare. The Lady Vikes have scored in 52 of the 86 innings in which they’ve batted.

They’ve got to keep it up for a while longer to end a streak that’s weighed on them. The Lady Vikes have lost in the first round of the playoffs three of the last four seasons.

Their success so far should help end that. If they can beat Clinton Tuesday, they’ll earn a No. 1 seed in the Class 5A/6A playoffs and face a weaker team in the first round instead of a division champion like in years past. The playoffs start Oct. 11.

In the meantime, it’s a whole lot of fun smashing the ball and lighting up the scoreboard.

“It’s fun. It’s just letting us know we can do it and not stop here,” Fultz said. “I think we have a stronger team this year, and we can all come together and do some damage this year.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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