Lady Vikes can’t cash in, lose Game 1 to Grenada in 6A softball playoffs

Published 12:51 am Saturday, April 27, 2024

Among the many songs and chants sung by Warren Central’s softball players on Friday night was one imploring their teammates to “rally up.”

The best the Lady Vikes could do was rally mid.

Warren Central stranded two runners in scoring position three times, including in the sixth and seventh innings, and the inability to score a run proved costly as it lost 3-0 to Grenada in Game 1 of an MHSAA Class 6A playoff series.

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

“We just didn’t hit the ball. That’s the bottom line,” Warren Central coach Brian Ellis said. “Maddie (Pant) did a good job in the circle and we did a good job defensively. They just played small ball with us in the first couple innings, managed to get a couple bleeder hits, and then they barreled up some balls. In this game you have to hit the ball and score runs and we didn’t.”

Game 2 is Saturday at 2 p.m. at Grenada. The Lady Chargers (XXX) can advance to the second round with a victory, while Warren Central (20-6) needs to win to force a deciding Game 3 back at Lucy Young Field on Monday night.

“We’ve just got to go up there and hit. Find a way to hit this girl and score runs, and play the defense like we played, and Maddie throwing like she’s throwing, and we’ll be good,” Ellis said.

Grenada got two of its three runs early, and then pitcher Mary Taylor Wilbourn alternated between being dominant, crafty and a little lucky to make the lead hold up.

Wilbourn bunted in a run in the first inning, and Kylee Ryals hit an RBI single in the second to give Grenada a 2-0 lead. Wilbourn later doubled and scored on another double by Madison Woodard in the sixth inning for Grenada’s other run.

Warren Central had runners at second and third in the bottom of the first inning, but Wilbourn escaped the jam with a pair of strikeouts. Those were the first of 10 consecutive batters she retired. The streak wasn’t broken until Keke McKay singled with two outs in the fourth inning, and the Lady Vikes didn’t threaten again until the sixth.

“She would get ahead and then hit a little lull. She fought back through. It was almost like it has to be a little harder for us to bow up, but they did well with fighting back,” Grenada coach Leslie Lancaster said.

After getting two runners on base with one out in the sixth inning, a pop out and a hard line out to center ended the threat.

In the seventh, the Lady Vikes had their first two batters reach base. Mari Kynlea Ferguson fouled off five consecutive pitches in an 11-pitch at-bat before hitting a soft liner to first base. Grenada’s Lillian Mattox caught it right at the bag and stepped on first to double up Tyra Bridges.

Makayla Jackson followed with a double to once again put runners at second and third, but Sarah Cameron Fancher popped out to end a frustrating game for the Lady Vikes.

The defensive help allowed Wilbourn to win her pitchers’ duel with Warren Central’s Madison Pant. Pant allowed five hits and one walk in seven innings, and had seven strikeouts. Wilbourn allowed four hits and three walks while striking out four.

“(Wilbourn’s) a good pitcher. As the innings got later she got us guessing on what she was going to throw and where she was going to throw, and we chased way too many riseballs,” Ellis said. “It was their night tonight and it wasn’t ours.”

MHSAA Class 6A softball playoffs
Game 1 – Grenada 3, Warren Central 0
Game 2 – Saturday, 2 p.m., at Grenada
Game 3 – Monday, 6 p.m., at Warren Central (if necessary)

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