Ridgeland eliminates Missy Gators from Class 5A softball playoffs

Published 9:41 am Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Years from now, when they think back to this playoff series against Ridgeland, the Vicksburg Missy Gators might regard it as the one that got away.

The Missy Gators committed three errors, let two leads slip away, and watched as Ridgeland pulled away in the later innings. Kaitlyn Hill homered twice and Ridgeland ended Vicksburg’s season with a 13-8 victory in Game 3 of their second-round MHSAA Class 5A softball playoff series on Tuesday.

Ridgeland’s Game 3 victory was paired with its win in Game 1, when it scored seven runs in the top of the seventh inning to win 13-12. Vicksburg won 8-0 in Game 2.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“It always takes me a while to go back and look at the coulda, woulda, shouldas. You can always look back on a game and find something you didn’t do,” Vicksburg coach Brian Ellis said. “Probably the biggest thing in this series was we left a lot of people on base and that was huge. We just didn’t get timely hits. Give (Ridgeland) their credit, tonight they made timely plays for the most part that they haven’t been making. They found a way to beat us and get that feeling of beating us.”

Vicksburg left nine runners on base in Game 3. It took an early 3-1 lead, and was ahead 5-4 at the end of the fourth inning.

In the fifth, however, Serenity Humphrey and Hill hit back-to-back home runs to put Ridgeland ahead, and it never trailed again. Hill hit another three-run homer in the sixth inning, and two other runs scored on a wild pitch and an error. Ka’Miya Fultz scored on the wild pitch, and Kennedy Brooks when the throw to the plate was off target.

Vicksburg cut it to 11-7 in the sixth inning, but Sydney Barfield hit a two-run single in the seventh to effectively crush the Missy Gators’ hopes of a comeback.

“I think Friday, we gave up too early. We thought, ‘We’ve got this,’ and then we didn’t play hard enough in that last inning and that’s what got us,” Vicksburg senior first baseman Charli Van Norman said. “But Saturday we started off ready and Monday we finished strong, and today I just think we thought, ‘We beat them 8-0 and we don’t need to try that hard.’”

Hill finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs, and Humphrey was 2-for-3 with a home run, two RBIs and three runs scored. Trinity Lipsey also hit a solo home run for Ridgeland (19-8), which advanced to face Saltillo in the third round.

Senior Vijae Flaggs was 1-for-2 with a double, RBI and two runs scored for Vicksburg (9-13), and Harmony Harris homered for the second game in a row. The Missy Gators lost the series despite scoring 28 runs in three games and outhitting the Lady Titans 29-22.

“I felt like we were still hitting the ball and putting it in play, and hitting the ball hard. But they backed up because we were hitting a lot of balls in the air,” Ellis said. “We popped up three times to the infield last night and they dropped them. Lexi hit two ball hard, but they were backed up so far that they just became routine outs.”

The Missy Gators are losing three seniors — infielders Van Norman and Lexi Kistler, and the outfielder Flaggs — but will have the rest of their roster back for 2024.

The seniors said the sudden ending was difficult to take.

“You dedicate your whole life to this and then it’s like, ‘Oh my God, it’s come to an end,’” Flaggs said.

Van Norman echoed those thoughts, noting that the three seniors have been together since their first steps on a softball field.

“It’s really sad. It’s really hard. We’ve been together since kindergarten,” Van Norman said. “Me and Lexi have never not played on a softball team together — ever — and then we both have little sisters. It’s just really hard. It’s sad.”

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.

email author More by Ernest