PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast invited perennial national power LSU Eunice to play an early-season doubleheader, and the Lady Bulldogs narrowly missed a sweep.
Gulf Coast (6-4) rallied but lost the first game 4-3 to the No. 3 Lady Bengals (16-4), then got revenge in the nightcap, winning 9-5 behind the right arm of Avery Sanders (So., Edward Douglas/Thibodaux, La.) and a potent bottom of the lineup let by Bailey Massey (So., Bruce/Bruce).
"A lot of people don't want to play LSU-E early, but we came out and battled them both games," Lady Bulldogs coach Kenneth Long said. "We could have had them the first game, but we got the second game, and that's important."
Sanders improved to 1-1 by allowing just one earned run in a complete-game effort. She scattered nine hits, but struck out seven while walking just two.
"I was very excited I got to pitch that second game," she said. "Everybody was intense the whole entire game, and that's what we need."
Camryn Williams (So., White Hall/White Hall, Ark.) had an infield RBI single in the first inning to tie the game at 1. Hannah Hembree (So., Pascagoula/Pascagoula) doubled in two more runs before Lauren Hall (So., Nettleton/Nettleton) made it 4-1 on a sacrifice fly.
Kenzie Nichols (Fr., Germantown/Madison) had a clutch two-out double in the fourth to make it 6-2, and after LSU-E got four unearned in the fifth, Hall doubled in another run to make it 7-5.
Massey hit safely for the third time with a leadoff single in the seventh, and Shelby Archer (Fr., Pearl River Central/Picayune) followed with a double.
"We just wanted to put in play, hitting the ball hard on the ground," Massey said. "We're fast at the bottom of the order, so it really helps out."
Mya Hopson (So., Madison Central/Madison) got an RBI groundout, and Williams got a two-out double inside the bag for the final margin.
"We just had a little bit different swagger about us, starting (Saturday) night at practice," Long said. "We were really focused. It carried over to today. Our dugout was really into and loud. Every time we got a base hit, they were excited, and that carried over to the next at-bat."
Kristen Cade (Fr., Harrison Central/Saucier) took the hard-luck in the opener, striking out 11. Archer hit the first pitch of the bottom of the first out for her fourth home run of the season, and Briana Shores (Fr., Richland/Richland) had a two-run double in the sixth.
Gulf Coast has a busy weekend coming up, playing seven games over Friday and Saturday. The Lady Bulldogs will start at 9 a.m. both days at the Coastal Alabama Spring Invitational in Atmore, Ala.
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