ELLISVILLE -- No. 3 Mississippi Gulf Coast's bats awoke from a Tuesday slumber in a big way at the MACJC Tournament.
The Lady Bulldogs lost 3-1 in a winners' bracket game to No. 7 Jones County, but erupted with three home runs in a 10-1, five-inning victory over No. 10 East Central in an elimination game.
"We got our bats going again and got our confidence back that we need," Gulf Coast coach Kenneth Long said. "When we play kind of loose, we play well. That's what happened."
Gulf Coast will have to beat Jones (41-6) twice Wednesday to defend its state title. The first game starts at 2 p.m.
The Lady Bulldogs, Lady Bobcats and Lady Warriors have all qualified for the Region 23 Tournament, which starts Friday in Eunice, La.
Lexie Mathis, Hannah Melendrez and Molly Murphy clouted home runs in a six-run fifth against the Lady Warriors (43-9). Camry Griffith chased home a run with a triple.
"We came out ready to hit the ball, and it will really boost our confidence," Mathis said. "We have to come focused (Saturday) and be loose, not tight."
The Lady Bulldogs (45-4) had played small ball in the fourth inning after having fallen behind on a first-inning homer. They pushed across two runs on bunts, and Murphy had an RBI double.
Nora Keehn (14-1) struck out five in a three-hitter. She didn't walk anybody.
"I thought, 'Just stay calm,'" she said. "Anytime I get antsy or too crazy, I don't pitch well. I just tried to relax and pitch my game."
In the Lady Bulldogs' first game, Jones scored three times in the second inning, aided by three walks. Kaitlin Lee (22-2) took the loss, allowing five hits.
Gulf Coast got a solo home run by Mathis in the third. She now has 17 home runs to lead Gulf Coast.
The Lady Bulldogs managed only five hits, but still had their chances.
"We had runners in scoring position a couple times but couldn't get them in," Long said. "We had the one bad inning that hurt us, but this team is gonna bounce back and play well tomorrow."