Missy Gators find positives in loss to Madison Central

Published 9:24 am Wednesday, April 12, 2023

The Vicksburg Missy Gators did not win on Tuesday. They fell behind early, and missed an opportunity to pull it out at the end.

Coach Brian Ellis had no problem with it at all.

Although perennial MHSAA Class 6A power Madison Central beat Vicksburg 6-3 at the Softball Swamp, it was exactly the kind of playoff tune-up Ellis said his team needed.

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“I’m super happy. We played a really good ball team right there and made plays,” Ellis said. “When we played teams like them before, we didn’t make the plays like we did tonight that were in front of us. We were heads up and moving defensively, and that kept us in the ballgame.”

Madison Central (13-5-1) scored three unearned runs in the first two innings and led 4-0 after adding another run in the top of the third.

Vicksburg finally pulled it together in the bottom of the third. Amari Johnson slid into first base to beat the throw on a bobbled grounder, and Lili and Lexi Kistler followed with singles. Lexi Kistler’s hit brought in Johnson with the Missy Gators’ first run.

Harmony Harris then tripled to right field to bring in the Kistler sisters and cut it to 4-3.

“When Buggy slid into first base, that was huge. It got everybody pumped up. And then we strung hits together after that,” Ellis said.

Madison Central padded its lead with single runs in the fifth and seventh innings to go up 6-3, but Vicksburg pieced together a two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh. A walk and two singles loaded the bases for Lexi Kistler, the team’s top hitter.

Charlee Rose Tierce struck out Kistler, however, getting her to chase a high pitch for strike three and the final out of the game. It was the 11th strikeout for Tierce, who pitched four innings of scoreless relief.

“I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for the situation we had at the end,” Ellis said.

All in all, Ellis added, it was a good senior night for the Missy Gators. They didn’t buckle after falling behind against a team that had beaten them 13-0 six weeks ago. It was the kind of thing Ellis hopes can pay as many dividends as a win.

“It’s big, especially like this with everything going on like senior night. It’s big to get back focused,” he said. “I don’t think the light really went off on us until the second or third inning. Then we scored a few runs and it was like, ‘We can play with these guys.’ But all year we’ve had those same kind of opportunities and haven’t made the best of them. Tonight, we did.”

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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