BOONEVILLE – Kelle West flourished in her new pitching role for Northeast as her Lady Tigers split an MACJC North Division series against defending North champ and rival Itawamba Tuesday at Booneville City Park.
Northeast (12-12, 2-3) staved off Itawamba’s Game 1 comeback attempts and West, 3-0 and pitching full time for the first time since 2009 at Hamilton, stranded the go-ahead runs in the final inning in a 5-4 win.
“Kelle keeps the ball low and around the plate and we were able to play defense behind her,” Northeast coach Jody Long said. “We got a good win.”
ICC (14-9, 6-2) salvaged Game 2 with an 8-3 win behind pitcher Chelsea Lukens’ six-hit performance.
ICC sophomore Kimmy Nicholson reached on an infield single in the sixth and scored on Courtney Dawson’s RBI single for a 5-2 lead. Lukens got three straight fly ball outs with Lady Tigers at second and third with none out in the bottom of the inning.
Northeast had five errors in the loss charged to Jazmin Smith.
“The biggest thing is not being able to make plays behind our pitcher,” Long said. We made several errors and anytime the pitcher is throwing the ball high and low, it’s hard…”
In the seventh, Caitlyn Castles singled and courtesy runner Jasna Clay stole home before Whitney Fears and Lindsay Richardson added a two-out RBI double and single for ICC.
“We had some timely hits,” said ICC coach Chad Case. “It’s easy to stand up there, nobody on, nobody out… Your hitters need to come in with runners in scoring position and have those big at-bats.”
Early on, Nicholson scored on Richardson’s double and Katy Maurer’s RBI single made it 2-0 in the first inning. Fears’ sac fly made it 3-0 and after Northeast freshman Katie Beth Dahlem’s sac fly cut the margin to 3-1, Richardson scored on an error for a 4-1 lead.
Dahlem doubled in the fifth and courtesy runner Madeline Hickman scored on a West flyout and error. Hickman scored again on a seventh-inning error.
In the opener, Northeast took a 3-0 lead in the first on a two-out single from Hannah Hastings and a two-run single from Smith.
ICC scored in the second on Castles’ bloop single.
Castles had six hits in the series.
Dahlem and West singled and doubled in the bottom of the second before Raleigh Downs’ RBI single got the run back.
For ICC, Richardson singled in the third before scoring on Ashley Case’s two-out single.
Nicki Whitten’s two-out hit in the fourth drove in Downs for a 5-2 lead.
In the loss charged to Laura Mitchell, ICC left 10 in scoring position.
“We had our chances in Game 1,” said Case. “We had some good individual performances but collectively one through nine we just didn’t swing the bat.”
In the seventh, Maurer and Case reached on two of four Northeast errors before Castles’ single down the third base line scored Maurer to trim the lead to 5-4. West then got pinch-hitter Dawson looking and speedy Nicholson nearly beat out an infield single back to West to load the bases.
Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal