No. 9 Mississippi Gulf Coast went toe-to-toe with No. 1 Jones in a first-game slugfest Tuesday, then delivered a knockout blow in the second to get a split in Ellisville.
The Lady Bulldogs (14-8, 6-2 MACJC) hit three home runs in the opener, including two by Briana Shores (Fr., Richland/Richland), but Jones (22-4, 7-1) hit five in a 9-7 comeback win. Gulf Coast's Avery Sanders (So., Edward Douglas/Thibodaux, La.) took the bats out of the Lady Bobcats' hands in the second game, pitching a four-hitter in a 10-2 five-inning win.
"They've been good for a long time. They're ranked No. 1 in the nation right now," Gulf Coast coach Kenneth Long said. "For us to go in there and play with the confidence we played with tonight, it makes me so proud of this team. I knew that was the kind of team we had, but they proved it to everybody tonight."
Sanders struck out five in her gem, allowing four hits and no earned runs. She shut out the high-powered Jones offensive, which was putting up nearly 10 runs per game, through four innings.
"She did a great job," Long said. "Somebody told me they clocked her at 65 (mph) a few times. That's pretty big stuff. She kept them off balance with her changeup. She was hitting spots and did a phenomenal job. I couldn't be more proud of anybody."
Shelby Archer (Fr., Pearl River Central/Picayune) hit the third pitch of the second game for her second home run of the day and a 1-0 lead. Gulf Coast scored three runs in each of the next three innings.
The first three came on a fielder's choice, a passed ball and an error. Betty Mingo (So., Choctaw Central/Philadelphia) singled in Marsha' Hunt (Fr., Philadelphia/Philadelphia), who tripled to lead off the third, and two more runs scored on an error and a Kaitlynn McGoey (So., Long Beach/Long Beach) sacrifice fly.
Mingo singled in another run in the fourth, and Shores doubled to score two more to make it 10-0.
The win gives Gulf Coast victories against the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country, having beaten LSU Eunice earlier this season.
"It gives us a lot of confidence," Long said. "It lets us know if we're on top of our game we can play with anybody. We celebrated after the game, but we also had a little bit of confidence about us that I liked."
The Lady Bulldogs outhit Jones in the first game, rallying from a 3-0 deficit to take 4-3 and 7-6 leads. Shores started the rally with leadoff solo home run in the third, and Bailey Massey (So., Bruce/Bruce) followed later with an RBI double and a two-run Archer homer to make it 4-3.
The Bulldogs scored three in the fifth on an RBI double by Camryn Williams (So., White Hall/White Hall, Ark.) and Shores' second homer, a two-run shot.
"It all started with her yesterday in practice," Long said. "She was so focused. She hit several balls off the wall and she had a little bit different confidence about her in practice. She brought it right on to the games today."
Jones tied it with a homer in the bottom of the inning, then pushed across two in the sixth.
Gulf Coast entertains East Mississippi on Friday at Ross-Smith Field. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. The games will be streamed at https://livestream.com/MGCCCBulldogs/events/8612239.
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