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Another split with leaders: NC softball downs No. 3 TJC

By MIKE MONTFORT   —

Navarro Softball rides a wave of momentum from significant doubleheader splits with nationally ranked Bossier Parish and Tyler — the kind of wave that may put other Region XIV teams on a tsunami alert.

The Bulldogs (19-13/8-4) secured a second doubleheader split with East Zone leaders in a five-day span on Sunday here at Cummings Field — again scoring a confidence-building, second-game win behind the pitching of freshman righthander Chelsea Vandiver.

KCNCSB 8Navarro came back from a 9-3 first-game loss Sunday to beat the third-ranked Apache Ladies, 4-3. The Bulldogs broke Tyler’s nine-game winning streak, and sliced a game off TJC’s lead in the East Zone race.

Vandiver threw 127 pitches in the seven-inning, complete-game victory, scattered 10 hits (9 singles), and stranded 10 baserunners against a TJC squad that ranks among NJCAA Division I statistics’ Top 15 in batting average (.388), hits (437), runs scored (368), runs-batted-in (331), home runs (43), and slugging percentage (.599).

In contrast, the Bulldogs managed only nine hits during 14 innings Sunday — only four in the Game 2 win, but none after the third inning.

In Game 2, Tyler stranded two runners in each of the first three innings and one in each of the final four frames. Vandiver surrendered two-out singles in each of the final four innings — stranded one at third and forced out another at second base on a fielders choice grounder to end the game.

In fact, Tyler spawned two-out scoring rallies in the first and the fifth innings.

Makenzie Goswick was ruled safe on an infield hit to begin the first-inning rally, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on Shelbi Court’s single.  In the fifth with two out, consecutive singles from Courtnie Heller and Mackenzie Ryan, plus a Jaden Lance double created two runs.

Down 1-0 before its first at-bat, Navarro responded as second baseman Kora Heine slugged her fourth home run of the year — a two-run shot off starter Julia Knight, and only the fifth allowed by Knight all season.  Scoring ahead of Heine’s home run was leadoff hitter Maddie Moore, who had belted a triple off the right-centerfield fence.

Moore drilled a third-inning, run-scoring single off Knight (10-2) that plated Krissy Johnson, who had walked and stolen second base. After Heine’s double sent Moore to third, Knight plunked rightfielder Taylor Goulet and third baseman Yasmin Melero with pitches.  Melero’s, coming with the bases-loaded, produced NC’s fourth run.

Navarro and Tyler (38-5/11-3) will be seeing each other again soon.  The teams play a 4 pm Wednesday doubleheader at Brook Hill School’s Schwab Softball Field in Bullard.

GAME 1: Tyler 9, Navarro 3
Court went 3-for-3 with two doubles, scored three runs and knocked in two as the Apache Ladies banged out 10 hits in support of starter Abbie Dart (21-2) and reliever Audrey Pickett.

TJC touched Bulldogs starter Makenzie Miller for four hits and four first-inning runs.

Miller lasted 3.1 innings before giving way to righthander Elisa Suarez, who turned in another strong long-relief performance.  Suarez, who stranded the inherited runners with a strikeout a ground out, pitched one-hit ball for the final 3.2 innings.  She threw 69 pitches, walked two and yielded two unearned runs in the seventh.

SATURDAY: Angelina at Navarro, ppd., rain

Navarro’s East Zone doubleheader against Angelina tentatively will be rescheduled for April 27.

WEDNESDAY’S DOUBLEHEADER
Bossier Parish 9-0, Navarro 4-9  (2nd, 5 Innings)
Navarro split with the 19th-ranked Cavaliers, winning Game 2 with a run-ruled shutout at Cummings Field.

Vandiver pitched a three-hit shutout in the shortened Game 2 victory. She threw 67 pitches to a total of 18 batters and struck out four.

KCNCSB 1Meanwhile, Melero went 3-for-3, scored twice and knocked in four runs to pace the Bulldogs’ offensive.  Right fielder Brylee Dickinson doubled twice and knocked in three runs.

The loss for BPCC (26-8/9-3) was its third shutout loss of the season and first in league play.  The Cavaliers were shut out by Laredo January 29 at Beeville (3-0), and by in-state NJCAA Division II rival LSU-Eunice 2-0 March 26 at Bossier City.  Wednesday’s doubleheader split prevented BPCC from keeping pace with first-place Tyler in the Region XIV East Zone race.

Curiously, over the course of Wednesday’s doubleheader here, heavy-hitting BPCC scored only two runs in its final 10 innings against the Bulldogs.

In Game 1, BPCC got solo homers from Chelsea Fagan and Morgan Bullock, scored seven runs in the first two innings and cruised to a 9-4 win.  Fagan and Bullock homered in the same game for the third consecutive contest as the Lady Cavaliers capped their scoring in the seventh.  Fagan mashed her 26th home run of the season, and two batters later, Bullock launched a shot over the centerfield scoreboard.

The Cavaliers touched starter Megan Segree for three first-inning runs. The freshman pitched only 1.1 innings before giving way to Suarez, who completed the contest.