ELLISVILLE – Izzy Werdann watched the softball she smashed disappear over the left-center field wall and had one thought.
"I said, No way. I just did that again."
The sophomore catcher from Pensacola, Fla., had hit a two-out, three-run homer with two outs in the sixth. This one ultimately gave No. 7 Mississippi Gulf Coast a MACJC Tournament-opening 7-6 win over No. 6 Itawamba, a year after she's done the same thing in the same situation.
The Lady Bulldogs (38-10) turned a 5-4 deficit to a 7-5 lead with yet another two-out rally. They scored all seven runs with two outs Friday in Ellisville.
Paige Dill (Fr, Olive Branch/Lewisburg) reached on a two-out single, and Lexie Mathis (So, Mobile, Ala./Baker) coaxed an eight-pitch walk in an at-bat that saw the Lady Indians third baseman drop a foul ball by the dugout for extra life.
Up stepped Werdann, whose three-run blast with two outs in the sixth beat Itawamba 3-2 last year.
"She turned around and did it again this year," Gulf Coast coach Kenneth Long said. "Izzy's done that so many times this year. She's been carrying us. She's putting us on her shoulder and carrying us hitting."
Itawamba rallied for one run in the top of the seventh, but Aidan Nichols (Fr, Brandon/Brandon) pitched out of the jam to pick up the win. She improved to 18-5 with 2.1 innings of relief work.
Itawamba scored three times in the top of the first to start a topsy-turvy game. Werdann doubled in a run with two outs in the first to start the comeback.
Nichols' sinking line drive to center couldn't be caught with two outs in the second and two more runs scored to tie it up. She singled again in the third for another RBI and a 4-3 lead.
"Dang, we've done this all year," Long said. "I'm so proud of this team. We get in a hole and make a mistake, and somebody makes up for it. I can't brag enough on this team."
Itawamba got a two-out solo home run in the fourth to tie it back up, also with two outs, then pushed across another run with two outs in the fifth to set up Werdann's heroics.
"I was thinking about that last at bat and how she struck me out on that same pitch," she said. "I said she's not doing that again."
She turned on a pitch low and in to propel Gulf Coast into the winners bracket. The Lady Bulldogs play at 1 p.m. Saturday against the Jones County, which defeated East Central 9-0 in five innings Friday.
That winner advances to Sunday's championship round and will have to be beaten twice. The loser plays again in a game scheduled for 5 p.m.
Friday's win was big, getting Gulf Coast into the winners bracke, which pays big dividends.
"If you win, you're in the region," he said. "If you lose, you're in the losers bracket. There's not a lot of room for error."
Game 1: Gulf Coast 7, Itawamba 6
Game 2: Jones County 9, East Central 0, 5 innings
Game 3: Gulf Coast vs. Jones County, 1 p.m.
Game 4: Itawamba vs. East Central, 3 p.m.
Game 5: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 winner, 5 p.m.
Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 1 p.m.
Game 7: If necessary, 30 minutes later
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