Lady Vikes slugged by New Hope

Published 12:30 am Sunday, October 16, 2016

At one point early Saturday evening, the only softball left to use at Lucy Young Field was the one in play. The other 11 that Warren Central and New Hope started the game with were missing in action, scattered throughout the woods just beyond the outfield fence by New Hope’s powerful and prolific home run hitters.

New Hope hit a total of 13 home runs in three games to beat Warren Central 2-1 in a best-of-three Class 5A-6A slow-pitch softball playoff series. Warren Central hit four homers of its own, but couldn’t keep up after overcoming a seven-run deficit to win Game 1.

Warren Central won the first game 15-14, and then New Hope took the next two 12-7 and 13-3.

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“We just made some errors in the field and let them score some runs, but we fought back. I’m real proud of them for working through that,” Warren Central coach Dana McGivney said. “And then it seemed like the second and third game (New Hope) came out hitting lights out and there isn’t much you can do about that. Hit with them, but even then it’s hard when they’ve got one through 10 hitting the ball like that. That’s by far the best hitting team I’ve seen all year.”

New Hope (19-12) advanced to the North State finals for the second consecutive season and will face Neshoba Central. Warren Central finished with a 23-9 record, but missed a chance to reach the state semifinals for the first time in more than a decade.

“That’s a good year. It’s obviously not what you want, but it’s a good year,” McGivney said.

Cocoa Fultz, April Lynn and Dee Dee Caldwell all went deep for Warren Central in its Game 1 victory, and Caldwell hit a two-run shot early in Game 2 to help the Lady Vikes take a 4-0 lead.

New Hope got rolling in the fourth inning of Game 2, however, and never stopped.

Kiley Cox hit a two-run home run and Lenoria Abrams followed with a solo shot to make it 4-3. In the fifth inning, Kelsie Gerhart hit a two-run homer to put New Hope ahead for good.

Gerhart and Abrams both went deep again in Game 2, as did Meredith Woolbright.

Gerhart continued her hot streak by homering in her first three at-bats in Game 3, giving her five consecutive plate appearances with a home run. She was 3-for-3 with six RBIs in Game 3.

“In the last six games, we’ve hit six or seven (homers) a game. So we’re getting hot right now,” New Hope coach Bobby Taylor said. “The first 10 games we might have hit four home runs. This is more home runs than we’ve ever hit.”

Game 3 was tied 3-3 after three innings before New Hope turned the power on one more time. Kenzie Ray broke the tie with a two-run home run, Gerhart hit a three-run shot, and Abrams a solo bomb during a six-run fourth inning. That put the Lady Trojans ahead 9-3, and they weren’t threatened again.

The next time Gerhart and Abrams came to the plate, in the sixth inning, they were both intentionally walked. The free pass to Abrams was with the bases loaded and brought in a run. The move to give up one run instead of four backfired, though, when Anna Kate O’Bryant hit a bases-clearing double to make it 13-3.

New Hope finished the game via the 10-run mercy rule after retiring the Lady Vikes in the bottom of the sixth.

“The second game, it’s like they woke up that third inning,” Taylor said. “When we get hot, we get hot. We’re either up or down. I just don’t know which team is going to show up.”

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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