Warren Central outlasts Grenada in an epic Game 3

Published 12:25 am Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Clutch plays. Comebacks. A controversial call.

The decisive Game 3 of the MHSAA Class 6A softball playoff series between Warren Central and Grenada had everything anyone could have asked for, all capped off by an extra-inning walk-off win for the home team.

Kamryn Morson scored the game-winning run on Mari Kynlea Ferguson’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th inning Tuesday as Warren Central beat Grenada 7-6 to win the first-round series.

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Each team scored multiple runs in extra innings, after a controversial obstruction call in the seventh got them there.

“It don’t matter how it gets done. A win’s a win. We just have to be one run ahead of the other team at the end of the game,” Warren Central coach Brian Ellis said. “These girls have been battling all year long. That was an epic.”

Warren Central (22-6) advanced to face South Panola (24-4) in the second round. That series will start Thursday at 5 p.m. in Batesville, with Game 2 Saturday at 3 p.m. at WC’s Lucy Young Field. If Game 3 is needed, it will be back at South Panola on Monday.

The Lady Vikes beat Grenada (15-7) by winning the last two games of the series after dropping Game 1 at home.

“I can’t remember all the plays, but the bottom line is these girls just battled and we found a way to go to the next round,” Ellis said. “We’ve got a team now (South Panola) that we thought we were going to play them in their tournament and it didn’t work out. They’re the team to beat in the upper part of the state. We’re going to see what we can do.”

Game 3 was a nailbiter all the way through, but the drama really ratcheted up in the top of the seventh inning.
With runners at first and second and two outs, and Warren Central leading 2-1, Grenada’s Olivia Lashley lined a single to center field. WC’s Jenn Smith fired a strike to home plate that threw out Saniya Boyd for what would have been the final out of the game.

Umpires ruled, however, that Boyd had been blocked by Morson as she rounded third base. Warren Central’s victory celebration was halted and Boyd was called safe at home because of the defensive obstruction.

“He claimed that she impeded the running. (Morson) wasn’t even real close. The girl never even slowed up the entire time. She never made contact,” Ellis said. “But, again, if you take care of stuff it doesn’t really matter what the umpires do. And we did that.”

Warren Central failed to score after loading the bases in the bottom of the seventh, and the game went to extra innings — lots of them.

Grenada scored twice in the top of the eighth inning, but the Lady Vikes tied it again on a two-out, two-run double by Adalyn Anderson.

“For some reason I wasn’t as a nervous. I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself. I just knew I had a job to do and I got the job done,” Anderson said.

Grenada scored again in the top of the ninth to take a 5-4 lead, then Warren Central pulled even on an RBI single by Ferguson in the bottom half. The Lady Vikes again could not score the winning run with the bases loaded, so it went to the 10th.

Mary Taylor Wilbourn put Grenada in front yet again, 6-5, with an RBI single. Warren Central then took its turn at bat and at last ended the three-hour marathon.

A misplayed bunt and an intentional walk loaded the bases for the Lady Vikes — they started with a runner at second base under softball’s tiebreaker rules — and Tyra Bridges singled up the middle to make it 6-6.

Ferguson then lofted a fly ball to right field that was juggled but caught by Grenada’s Rylee Ryals. Ryals’ throw home was not in time, and Morson scored standing up to set off the Lady Vikes’ second victory celebration of the night.

“It’s emotional. I’ve been doing this a long time. This is one of the most fun games,” Ellis said. “The emotions you go through, that’s why we play sports. That’s why we play games and that’s why these girls love to play this game.”

The victory was a satisfying one for the Lady Vikes. Not only did they overcome the controversial call in the seventh inning, nearly every player in the lineup contributed on offense, defense, or both.

Ferguson, the No. 9 batter in the order, was 3-for-4 with two RBIs — both in extra innings. Anderson had two hits, one of them the clutch two-run double in the eighth inning. Sarah Cameron Fancher drove in two runs with a double earlier in the game.

Jackson had several defensive gems in right field, while she and her teammates threw out eight Grenada runners on the basepaths as they tried to advance. The center fielder Smith threw out a runner at home to end the second inning.

“It’s the best feeling ever. I think we’re all on an adrenaline high right now,” said Anderson, a senior second baseman. “It was a good team win. We all contributed. Every one of us contributed in a different way, so I’m proud of all of us. It feels great.”

Pitcher Keke McKay also turned in a remarkable performance. The freshman stepped in when starter Madison Pant was hit in the head by a line drive in the third inning and had to leave the game.

McKay pitched the last 7 1/3 innings. She only allowed one earned run until the tiebreaker rules kicked in during extra innings and kept the Lady Vikes in the game.

Pant was taken to the hospital and released late Tuesday night. She had a large welt on her forehead, but a CT scan did not show signs of a concussion, her father Jeremiah Pant said.

“Keke, I don’t know what I can say about her getting in a moment like that and battling the way that she did. It’s just incredible,” Ellis said. “And the rest of the girls, the defense behind her was great.”

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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