Lady Vikes find plenty to smile about after close loss to Northwest Rankin

Published 9:12 am Friday, March 31, 2023

Sometimes, teams send a statement that they’ve arrived on a bigger stage with a major victory against a powerful opponent.

Warren Central’s softball team might have done the same with a loss.

The Lady Vikes held Northwest Rankin, the No. 1 ranked team in Mississippi, scoreless until the sixth inning Thursday night. They wound up losing 1-0 and, they hope, showed everyone — including themselves — what they’re capable of heading into the stretch run of the season.

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Northwest Rankin beat Warren Central for the ninth consecutive time since 2011, but this was only the second time during that streak that it did not score at least 10 runs.

“That’s what I tried to tell them after the game. We don’t like to lose, obviously. But, you play like that against the No. 1 team in the state and you can play with anybody in the state,” Warren Central coach Dana McGivney said. “That makes you ready for the next game and the next challenge that you face.”

Northwest Rankin’s Grace Wallis won the pitchers’ duel with Warren Central’s Abby Morgan.

Wallis allowed three hits and no walks, and struck out nine in seven innings. Morgan allowed five hits and no walks, and struck out six, but cracked ever so slightly to let the Cougars (16-2, 1-0 MHSAA Region 6-6A) escape with the victory.

Northwest Rankin strung together three straight singles in the top of the sixth inning. Morgan got the next two batters to ground out, but Wallis brought in the game’s only run with the first of those.

Warren Central (10-9, 1-1) had a chance to win it in the bottom of the seventh inning. Bunt singles by Mary Evelyn Hossley and Sarah Cameron Fancher put the winning run on base, and the tying run in scoring position, with no outs.

Wallis, though, worked out of the jam. Jenn Smith popped up another bunt that was caught, and a soft liner by Kayleigh Karel was caught in the infield for out No. 2. Morgan then grounded out to end the game, without the runners advancing any further.

“Defensively, I thought we looked great. You can’t ask for much better than that. We had a chance there at the end to tie it. So I’ll take that all day against the No. 1 team in the state,” McGivney said.

The Lady Vikes will get another crack at Northwest Rankin on April 6 in Flowood. In the meantime, they’ll try to build on Thursday’s performance with back-to-back road games at Clinton Friday at 6:15 p.m. and Richland on Saturday at noon.

“You want your team to come and bring your best against the best, and I feel like we did that,” McGivney said. “I think we can certainly hit the ball a little bit better, but other than that you can’t ask for much else. Abby pitched one heckuva game and our defense played well behind her. That should give us the confidence we need going forward.”

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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