ELLISVILLE, MS (WLOX) - After dropping the opening game of the Region 23 Tournament, No. 10 Mississippi Gulf Coast faced a long uphill battle to claim another championship.
The Lady Bulldogs reached the summit Saturday, finishing with two wins over No. 11 East Central on Sunday to add another title to their MACJC crown.
“I can't say enough about our team and what we did,” Gulf Coast coach Kenneth Long said. “I don't know many teams that can do what we did. After losing in the first round, winning twice yesterday and doing what we did today. This is a special team.”
The Lady Bulldogs (45-11) won the final game 2-0 to escape four straight elimination games. Paige Breal allowed a one-out single in the seventh, the only hit she gave up in the clincher.
Gulf Coast had beaten East Central 4-3 earlier in the day.
On Friday, the Lady Bulldogs defeated the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in a seven-hour span, eliminating LSU-Eunice and host Jones County.
East Central (42-12) will join Gulf Coast at the NJCAA Tournament next week.
The Lady Bulldogs pounced for all the runs they needed in the first inning, getting four hits with RBI singles by Brittany Cooley and Deborah Elmore.
From there on, it was all Breal, who at one point retired 16 straight Lady Warriors. Mahalia Gibson broke up the no-hitter with a single, and Breal (14-5) walked two batters to load the bases before getting a fly ball to center to end it.
Alyssa Hardy was the hero in the opener, cranking a fourth-inning grand slam.
The Lady Bulldogs didn't have a hit until the fourth inning, but their only three of the game counted in that frame. Catelyn Williams had a leadoff single, followed by Deborah Elmore's single.
With two outs, hitter Reagan Prentiss faced an 0-2 count, but coaxed a seven-pitch walk to bring up Hardy.
Hardy took strike one down the middle, then flipped the game with her second home run of the year.
“The second one was over the plate, outside,” Hardy said. “I went with it. It felt really smooth.”