Lady Vikes end a season and an era with Game 3 loss to Brandon

Published 11:55 pm Monday, May 1, 2023

BRANDON — Warren Central had its softball season, and a memorable chapter in its history, end on Monday.

Hannah Jo Sullivan and Ariel Davis each hit a solo home run, and Brandon beat Warren Central 3-0 in Game 3 of their second-round MHSAA Class 6A softball playoff series.

It was the final game for longtime coach Dana McGivney, who is leaving after 16 seasons to become the head coach at Oxford High School. Her final Warren Central team finished with an 18-14 record and pushed the No. 2-ranked team in Class 6A to the limit before bowing out.

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“The last out, and then it becomes real. This is it. This has been my home for 17 years and it’s tough,” McGivney said. “You don’t ever want to lose. You don’t want it to end. It would have been tough no matter when it was.”

Brandon (17-6-1) advanced to face either Hancock or Ocean Springs in the third round. It crushed Warren Central 10-0 in the opener of this series, then lost 8-4 in Game 2 on Friday.

Game 3 was a tight pitchers’ duel that the Lady Bulldogs broke open with two home runs. After getting an unearned run in the first inning, Davis smashed a solo home run over the center field wall for a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning.

In the fifth inning, Sullivan hit a fly ball that just carried over the left field fence to make it 3-0. It banged off the metal support post of the scoreboard and the back of the fence on its way to the ground.

Warren Central outhit Brandon 4-3, but stranded five runners in scoring position and had two thrown out on the basepaths. For the final out, Adalyn Anderson was tagged while trying to score on a wild pitch. The ball caromed hard off the stone wall behind home plate and Sullivan, Brandon’s catcher, snatched it up. Sullivan dove and tagged Anderson about 10 feet from home plate to end the game.

“Everything we were hitting went to somebody,” Warren Central outfielder Jenn Smith said. “It didn’t find a hole, and if it did find a hole we just couldn’t bring those people in. Other than that, we played good defensively and did our best.”

Afterward, McGivney consoled and hugged her players, then broke down for a moment in her final postgame huddle as a Lady Vike. Surrounded by her players, she bent down and cried for a moment before collecting herself and offering up even more hugs.
She said she was proud of them all, for an outstanding season and for not caving in after a disastrous Game 1 of this series.

“We made it to the second round. We held the No. 1 team in the state (Northwest Rankin) to a 1-0 game and played well in a lot of games,” she said. “That’s all you can ask is for your kids to work hard and fight and not quit, and I feel like that’s what we did all season.”

She was also proud of her time at Warren Central and the legacy she’s leaving behind. She led the Lady Vikes to several region championships and playoff series wins and established them as one of the better high school teams in Mississippi.

The Lady Vikes are only losing three seniors — catcher Lola Crozier, pitcher Abby Morgan and center fielder Kayleigh Karel, all of whom signed with junior college programs — and McGivney feels like she’s leaving things in a good place.

It’s just that leaving is always difficult.

“I had a lot to live up to, coming in after Coach (Lucy) Young. For her to entrust her program to me meant a lot,” McGivney said. “And to see all the changes — some things that we got, some things that we didn’t quite get yet — that we’ve been waiting on, to leave a program like that is hard. Especially when you have a great group of kids and a great group of seniors that are going to be coming up next year. It hurts.”

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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