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Northeast Mississippi Community College softball team made the most of its return to Booneville City Park after not playing a doubleheader in the friend confines in almost a month.
Northeast (12-12, 2-3 in North Division) was able to scratch away a split in its series with rival Itawamba Community College and see their win streak extend to five games before falling in the nightcap of the doubleheader on Tuesday, March 22.
Northeast jumped out to a 3-0 lead on the Lady Indians and held on for a 5-4 decision in the opener before falling 8-3 in the second game.
In the Lady Tigers first doubleheader at Booneville City Park since February 25, Northeast used a flurry of clutch two-out hits to keep the Lady Indians offtarget.
Northeast’s last two-game affair at Booneville City Park came during the TigerFest when the Lady Tigers faced Northwest-Shoals (Ala.) and Indian Hills (Ill.) on Friday, February 25.
Northeast had a three-game series with John A. Logan (Ill.), Three Rivers (Mo.) and Southwest Tenn., on Saturday, February 26 during the second day of the TigerFest and a North Division doubleheader scheduled with East Mississippi on March 4 but the second game of that set was washed away by inclement weather and will be made up on Thursday, March 31.
Northeast jumped on the visitors early in the first game opening the series with a three-run first that saw Booneville’s Hannah Hastings and Jazmin Smith (Anchorage, Alaska) come away with a pair of timely two-out hits.
Hastings’ single staked the host to a one-run lead and Smith, who drew the start in the nightcap, laced a two-out, two-run single to right that gave the Lady Tigers a three-run cushion.
“That was the big difference in the first game,” said Northeast head softball coach Jody Long. “We came through with the timely hit. We had the same opportunities in the second game and just didn’t come through.”
Northeast kept the pressure on Itawamba and extended its lead to 4-1 in the second as a former Hamilton High School standouts Kelle West and Katie Beth Dahlem set the Lady Tigers up for their fourth run of the contest.
Dahlem singled to start the rally for the Lady Tigers and West, who started for the Lady Tigers on the mound in the opener, blasted a double to the Lady Indianoutfield that put Northeast with runners in scoring position. An RBI single by Raleigh Downs (Booneville) chased home courtesy runner Madeline Hickman (Booneville) and staked the host to a 4-1 advantage.
After Itawamba (14-9, 6-2) cut the lead in half in the third on an Ashley Case two-out single, Nicki Whitten (Booneville) picked up what would prove to be the game-winner for the Lady Tigers in the fourth when the Northeast sophomore drove in Downs for a 5-2 advantage before ICC started its comeback.
Itawamba picked up runs in its final two at bats and had the bases loaded in the seventh before West was able to get out of the game and secure her third win of theyear.
In the nightcap, it was a reversal of fortune for the Lady Tigers as the Lady Indians jumped out to a 4-1 lead after three and never looked back adding three runs in their final at bat for the deciding digits.
Dahlem and West accounted for most of Northeast’s damage in the second game as Dahlem’s sacrifice fly in the second cut the game to 3-1 and the left-handed catcherhelped set up the Lady Tigers next run in the fifth when she doubled and West drove in Hickman.
Hickman had a busy day for the Lady Tigers on the base paths as the Booneville freshman accounted for Northeast’s third run of the game – scoring on a throwing error in the seventh.
With the split, Northeast began a gauntlet of games that will see the Lady Tigers play 17 games in 19 days during the latter stages of March and early April.
Northeast travels to Senatobia to make-up the doubleheader with Northwest on Thursday, March 24 and then to Goodman to take on Holmes Community College on Saturday, March 26.
Action picks up for the Lady Tigers as Northeast comes away with five home dates in its next six dates as the Lady Tigers host Coahoma on Wednesday, March 30, makes up its one game with East Mississippi on Thursday, March 31 and Mississippi Delta on Saturday, April 2 before traveling to East Mississippi on Tuesday, April 5.
Northeast wraps up its hectic 19-day, 17-game schedule with home dates against Northwest on Friday, April 8 and a non-division encounter with Arkansas Baptist College on Saturday, April 9.