Warren Central beats Brandon, forces Game 3 in softball playoff series

Published 11:16 pm Friday, April 28, 2023

Warren Central’s prom is Saturday night, but its softball team is going to be dancing all weekend long.

The Lady Vikes jumped on Brandon with three runs in the first inning and put them away with four in the sixth to win 8-4 on Friday and send their second-round MHSAA Class 6A playoff series to a deciding Game 3.

Game 3 is Monday at 6 p.m. at Brandon.

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“We didn’t show up yesterday. We didn’t come ready to play and you could tell,” Warren Central coach Dana McGivney said. “I just said, ‘Hey guys, I’m not ready for it to be over. I’m not ready to be done and I don’t want you to be ready to be done.’ I think that resonated with them, that if we didn’t play well tonight then we were going to be done. And we definitely didn’t want to go out with a loss on our home field.”

Brandon (19-6-1) thrashed Warren Central 10-0 in Game 1 of the best-of-three series on Thursday, and drew first blood in Game 2 as well. Hannah Jo Sullivan led off the game with a walk, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch, and then stole home for a 1-0 lead.

The Lady Vikes (18-13) punched right back, however. Jenn Smith tied the game with an RBI single, Abby Morgan drove in another run with a fielder’s choice, and Adalyn Anderson delivered another RBI single to put Warren Central ahead 3-1.

“Any time you can put runs on a good team — and they’re a very good team — it puts pressure on them,” McGivney said. “I think we did that all night, and that’s what helped us. Tonight, they folded under the pressure. Last night it was us and tonight it was them.”

The teams traded runs in the third inning, and then Warren Central took advantage of a defensive meltdown by Brandon to put the game away in the sixth. The Lady Bulldogs failed to cover bases on several plays to allow Warren Central runners to move into scoring position. Kayleigh Karel and Makayla Jackson each had RBI singles, and two more runs scored on errors.

When the dust settled, Warren Central had a comfortable 8-2 lead. Brandon’s Kam Jordan hit a two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning, but the Bulldogs never came close to piecing together a big comeback.

Smith finished 2-for-3 with one RBI and two runs scored for Warren Central, and Karel was 2-for-2 with two RBIs and one run scored. The Lady Vikes snapped a 12-game losing streak to Brandon that dated back to 2009.

“It gives us a lot of confidence,” said WC pitcher Morgan, who hit a double in the third inning to set up a run. “We knew that we could beat them, and it really gets us in a good mental state. If you start hitting it’s contagious, and that’s how it is for us.”

Friday’s win not only kept Warren Central’s season alive, it prolonged McGivney’s 16-year tenure as coach for at least a few more days. She is leaving Warren Central to become Oxford’s head coach at the end of the season, but said she’s not in any hurry to make that transition — and certainly didn’t show it.

During the game-clincing rally in the sixth inning the normally even-keeled coach was pumping her fists, high-fiving players and running up and down the third baseline as her players scored run after run.

“I’m not ready for it to be done,” she said with a smile. “I know this is my last year here, but I’m not ready for it to be done for them, because these are my kids and I love them. I want us to be able to do everything we can to get as far as we can.”

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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