Alcorn sweeps doubleheader, coach planning return visit to Vicksburg

Published 9:00 am Friday, February 17, 2017

On a cool winter’s evening, a couple of hundred people swarmed to Vicksburg High’s Softball Swamp for a rare treat — a Division I college softball game in the city of Vicksburg.

The crowd on hand to see Alcorn State play Kentucky State in a doubleheader was a blend of students, young softball players, parents, Alcorn fans and alumni, and the genuinely curious. It was the right kind of mix to deem the event a success, and bring the promise that it was the first of many similar events to come.

“It’s great, especially being able to open up under the lights and with the crowd and stuff,” Alcorn coach Josef Rankin said. Alcorn’s home field in Lorman does not have lights. “We’re talking with (Vicksburg High coach Brian) Ellis the other day, and we’re planning to do it again and add a few more teams. The atmosphere has been great, Coach Ellis has been great, Vicksburg has been great. We really enjoyed it.”

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Alcorn swept Kentucky State in the doubleheader, 10-2 and 13-0, to start the 2017 season with a pair of victories.

Bre Glenn and Montana Holyfield both hit two-run home runs in the first game, and Taylor Hughes was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.

Hughes, Holyfield and Glenn, along with Jessica Crum, all homered in game two for the Lady Braves. Hughes was 4-for-4 with three RBIs, and Crum was 3-for-4 with three RBIs.

Madi Creed pitched a five-inning shutout in game two as Alcorn won both games by the mercy rule.

“We swung the bats well. Hopefully that continues. I was very happy to see that,” Rankin said. “All through the preseason we had been swinging it well, so it was good to be able to see that here in a game.”

The on-field action was important for the Lady Braves, who got off to a good start after finishing 15-27 last season. At the end of the night, however, it was merely two of 40 or so games they’ll play this season.
For Vicksburg High softball coach Brian Ellis, it meant a lot more.

Ellis is hoping to make visits by Alcorn and other college teams a regular occurrence. Having everything run smoothly, from field maintenance to basic game operations, was a big part of that.

The game had the atmosphere of a major event. Officials from Alcorn State University, the City of Vicksburg, Warren County and the Vicksburg Warren School District threw out the first pitch. The Vicksburg High pep band played the national anthem, and the game was broadcast both online and on radio.

The crowd was listed at 233, and provided a fun atmosphere. Members of softball teams from Vicksburg High, Warren Central and Porters Chapel were in attendance to get a glimpse at high-level players.
All in all, Ellis said, it was everything he was hoping for.

“It was a busy day with a few hiccups getting the field ready, but it turned out great,” Ellis said. “I think Alcorn was happy with the opportunity to bring Alcorn softball to Vicksburg,” Ellis said.

This was the first of two college softball games in Vicksburg this season. Mississippi Valley State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff will play on April 12 at Warren Central.

Its success almost certainly seems to ensure another visit by Alcorn — and friends — next season. Rankin said he and Ellis have talked about a four- or six-team event in 2018, although so far no firm plans have been set.

“It’ll be four or six. We’re not sure yet. But we’re trying to add more. Hopefully it’ll keep getting bigger,” Rankin said.

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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