Junior Colleges

No. 2 Gulf Coast softball rallies for split at No. 5 JCJC

DON HAMMACK/MGCCC 
 Mississippi Gulf Coast shortstop Lexie Mathis awaits a pitch during Game 1 at Jones County in Ellisville on Tuesday.
DON HAMMACK/MGCCC Mississippi Gulf Coast shortstop Lexie Mathis awaits a pitch during Game 1 at Jones County in Ellisville on Tuesday.

When No. 2 Mississippi Gulf Coast needed to rebound from a disappointing loss in the opener at No. 5 Jones County, the Lady Bulldogs got big performances from two of its stars.

Kaitlin Lee threw another shutout, holding the potent Lady Bobcats bats to six hits in a 4-0 victory. Lexie Mathis provided the biggest offensive blow of the game, a three-run homer, her 12th of the season.

"It shows that we have heart and guts and we're here to fight no matter who it is," Lee said. "It showed them that no matter how bad they beat us in the first game, we're going to come back, have a positive attitude and shut 'em down."

Gulf Coast is now 25-3, 9-3 in MACJC play. Jones is 25-4, 13-1.

The Lady Bulldogs return to Ross-Smith Field on Friday to play Meridian. The doubleheader starts at 2 p.m.

Gulf Coast couldn't push its baserunners across the plate in the first game, leaving six stranded, and it looked like that theme was continuing in the second game.

The Lady Bulldogs had a leadoff single get thrown out at second in the first inning and a one-out Hannah Melendrez triple went for naught in the second.

They had another baserunning mistake in the third, with a runner thrown out at home before Deborah Elmore's RBI groundout scored the game's first run.

Kelli Berry, who leadoff innings three times in the second game with singles, did so in the fifth to help set the table for Mathis. She followed Brittany Cooley's single with an opposite field shot.

Mathis said she was looking away when she came to the plate.

"I was because every at bat I had before that I had outside pitches," she said. "Every other at-bat I had hit grounders in the first- and second-base hole."

Mathis finished with three hits in the nightcap after failing to reach base in the first game. Her blast provided insurance for Lee's stout effort.

Lee (12-1) struck out five batters, scattering six hits with no walks.

"She always battles on the mound and gives us a great effort," Gulf Coast coach Kenneth Long said. "We've just got to get our other two pitchers going. They can do the same thing."

Nora Keehn took her first loss of the season in the opener, falling to 7-1. She was charged with two runs on five hits in three innings of work.

Jones scored twice in the third, breaking a 39-inning Lady Bulldogs shutout streak. The Lady Bobcats tacked on four in the fifth off Kristen Gardner to put the game away.

The Lady Bulldogs managed only two hits, but flipped the script behind Lee.

"It shows that we have heart and guts and we're here to fight no matter who it is," she said. "It showed them that no matter how bad they beat us in the first game, we're going to come back, have a positive attitude and shut 'em down."

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