Lady Vikes slugging way into playoffs

Published 7:05 am Friday, October 6, 2017

Back in August, a steady stream of rainouts kept Warren Central’s slow-pitch softball team off the field and forced it to hone its craft in the hitting cage.

The weather dried out in September and October, and the Lady Vikes are showing that the extra practice was time well spent.

Warren Central (13-6) will head into the MHSAA Class III playoffs averaging nearly 10 runs and one home run per game. Although they’ve lost three in a row leading into Friday’s first-round series with West Harrison, they have the confidence that they can slug with — and beat — almost anyone.

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The best-of-three first-round series begins at 1 p.m. at WC’s Lucy Young Field. It was moved up a day because of the threat of rain associated with Tropical Storm Nate, which is forecast to approach Mississippi on Saturday.

The winner of the Warren Central-West Harrison series will play either Brookhaven or Meridian in the second round on Tuesday. The site of those games is to be determined.

“That’s all you want them to do is hit the ball well and hit it consistently, one through 10. When we do that, we put ourselves in ballgames and that’s what we’ve got to do,” WC coach Dana McGivney said. “It’s been practice, practice and more practice. We haven’t really gotten to play a whole lot of games so it’s been practice, practice and more practice. The time in the cage has helped.”

Part of Warren Central’s recent slump has stemmed from playing top-flight competition. Lawrence County, one of the better teams in Class II, beat the Lady Vikes 11-0 last Saturday and then Class III championship contender Northwest Rankin swept a doubleheader 14-3 and 22-10 on Tuesday.

Northwest Rankin simply outslugged the Lady Vikes, hitting 11 home runs in the two doubleheader games. Warren Central trailed 12-10 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning in game two, and then the Lady Cougars hit three home runs and scored 12 times to win via the mercy rule.

“Once they get on a roll and they get hot it’s hard to stop. If you can make a play on a bullet ball, then you give yourself a chance. We did that much better this game and we did give ourselves a chance and stayed in it longer than the first game,” McGivney said after Tuesday’s losses. “We were just going through the motions the first game. So I was pleased they came the second game and stepped up, scored some runs and played a lot better.”

WC did hit three home runs in the doubleheader, giving it 22 for the season.

Cocoa Fultz leads the team with eight, while Kelsey Lockridge has six, Dominique Caldwell has four, April Lynn has three and Laura Reagan Logue hit her first against Northwest Rankin. Fultz has been selected to play in the Mississippi Association of Coaches All-Star Game Oct. 28 at Newton County High School.

The good news is, they also won’t face two of the top teams in Class III until the state finals, if they can get that far. Northwest Rankin and Neshoba Central are both in the same district and on the North side of the bracket, while Warren Central is in the South.

Neshoba Central and Northwest Rankin are both in the same region, and combined to hit 51 home runs in their two head-to-head matchups this season. Neshoba Central won both, 37-17 and 37-25. In the latter, Neshoba Central hit 21 home runs by itself.

Compared to those two, Warren Central’s season home run total seems small. It’s still potent enough to give it a chance against almost anyone, however, if its hitters can do it consistently enough.

“I think we have a chance if we step up and play like we’re capable of playing,” McGivney said. “But we have to be more consistent offensively and defensively every game, not just every other game.”

West Harrison at Warren Central, 1 p.m.
Vicksburg at D’Iberville, 3:30 p.m.
• All series are best-of-three

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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