ELLISVILLE – No. 7 Mississippi Gulf Coast kept putting the ball in play Wednesday during its first-round NJCAA Region 23 Tournament game against No. 4 LSU-Eunice.
The Lady Bulldogs wound up with nine hits and forced seven Lady Bengal errors on the way to an 8-1 victory.
"You like to think this got us in, but it doesn't," Gulf Coast coach Kenneth Long said. "We've got to win one more. With this team, I'm pretty confident we're going to come out and play well each game."
Gulf Coast moves into the winners' bracket Thursday, with a game against No. 1 Jones County, which beat No. 6 Itawamba, at 1 p.m. The Lady Bulldogs are halfway to qualifying for the national tournament. Two teams here will advance, and two wins clinch a berth.
The first elminiation game will take place at 3 p.m., pitting LSU-E and Itawamba against each other. The winner plays at 5 p.m. against the JCJC-MGCCC loser.
Aidan Nichols (Fr, Brandon/Brandon) struck out six and allowed only five hits to improve to 19-7. She gave up a first-inning run, but then put up six zeros.
She singled and scored in the second, and Gulf Coast took advantage of the first of a slew of errors to go in front 2-1.
Back-to-back errors in the third made it 4-1, and Camry Griffith (So, Taylorsville/Taylorsville) picked up her first two hits to drive in another. Kristen Sexton (Fr, Gulfport/West Harrison) in the seventh-spot in the order and Griffith in the ninth each had two hits.
"We're just relaxed down there," Griffith said. "There's no pressure, hitting the ball where it's pitched just like we do in practice."
The Lady Bulldogs added two more in the fifth and another in the seventh to close out the scoring.
"It's really big because it puts us a step closer to nationals," said Sexton.
NJCAA Region 23 Tournament
Game 1: Gulf Coast 8, LSU-Eunice 1
Game 2: Jones County 6, Itawamba 1
Game 3: Gulf Coast vs. Jones County, 1 p.m.
Game 4: LSU-Eunice vs. Itawamba, 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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