Daijah Richardson ripped a game-tying triple in the seventh and Kayla Moran followed with a RBI double as Harrison Central rallied for a 4-3 victory over Ocean Springs in Game 1 of their 6A softball state playoff series at Jack Hughes Field on Friday.
The best of three series resumes Saturday at 5 p.m. at Harrison Central, and the Red Rebelettes (30-3) own a 1-0 lead in the series. The winner heads to the State Tournament in Hattiesburg.
Ocean Springs (20-9) led 3-1 heading into the top of the seventh. But Shelby Thacker and Kayla Smith hit back-to-back singles to open the inning. Two outs later, Richardson was battling Ocean Springs ace Kylie Taylor. Richardson slammed a triple over the right fielder’s head to tie the game, then she scored on Moran’s RBI double.
HCHS then escaped a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh for the win. In the sixth, HCHS escaped another bases-loaded situation.
“I knew with my teammates behind me, I could do it,’’ Richardson said. “They believe in me and I believe in myself. I just hit the ball. We are facing a pretty good team. It was tough.
“I knew Kylie wasn't going to throw a ball very often, so I was looking for a strike. I was praying and hoping that something would happen and it did. We won the game.’’
Richardson went 3-for-4 and scored two runs. Moran was 2-for-4. Kayla Cade had the other RBI, a single to center in the third.
Ocean Springs jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first when Samya James hit a two-run homer to left off Kristen Cade. Ocean Springs another run in the fifth on a RBI double by Kennedy Bahr.
“The top of our order came through tonight,’’ HCHS coach Jimmy Parker said. “We struggled at the bottom but in the seventh inning we had some success from 6-7-8-9 to get back to the top.
“I’m proud of them. They didn’t give up.
“Here we are with 30 wins and one win from going to State. But that is a good team (Ocean Springs) over there that is really hungry.’’
“Daijah Richardson came through with three hits and Moran had two.’’
Haley Fox and James each collected three hits, and Taylor rapped two hits.
Cade fanned six batters to gain the win while Taylor struck out five.
Ocean Springs coach Lindsay O’Brien said her team stranded too many runners on base — eight in total.
“We knew it would a fight,’’ she said. “But offensively we didn’t get it done. We left too many runners on base. Ultimately, that is what got us.’’