Lady Choctaws Make Valiant Run to GSC Championship Game

Photo Courtesy of Mississippi College Athletics

By Datti Jinkiri

The Mississippi College Lady Choctaws softball team came into last weekend’s GSC Softball Championship tournament facing a daunting task. Though the team entered the tournament on a two-game winning streak, it was unranked in the official NCAA South Region rankings. The top-six teams in the region will advance to the NCAA Tournament, and the team had work to do to be a part of the that select few.

On top of that, a slew of GSC ranked teams awaited the team in the Oxford, Alabama based tournament, and the Lady Choctaws knew that they would likely need to defeat at least a couple of those teams to have a chance. However, the Lady Choctaws were up for the challenge. They knocked off two ranked GSC opponents (Alabama Huntsville and Valdosta State) and a regionally-ranked team (West Georgia) to make a surprise appearance in the GSC Championship Game. Though they lost to the GSC’s regular season champions (Auburn Montgomery) in the final, the Lady Choctaws have put themselves in position for an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Mississippi College head coach Brooke O’Hair was pleased with how her team approached the tournament.

Our mentality going into the tournament was ‘We are here to win it all’,” O’Hair stated. “Every game is an opportunity to play your best ball, and our team showed up with the right mindset to get the job done.”

We always preach to be the best version of yourself, and that allows our team to be great. They left everything on the field and played with more heart, fight, and grit than we have witnessed all season. We try not to put emphasis on who we are playing, but we instead just focus on playing our game. The game does not change, and taking care of the little things and executing in crucial situations is what leads to victory.”

Here’s a quick recap of each tournament game:

Opening Round: Mississippi College 4, #14 Alabama Huntsville 3

The Lady Choctaws began the tournament with a narrow win over the third-seeded Chargers. Jordan LaFosse went two-for-three at the dish and hit a two-run single in the first inning. All-GSC catcher McCall Lee added a solo home run, which was her seventh of the season.

Avery Sanders earned the win in the circle, striking out three batters and giving up no earned runs in 2.2 innings of work. With the win, the Lady Choctaws won the season series with the Chargers 4-0.

Game 2: Mississippi College 2, #8 Valdosta State 1

The Lady Choctaws avenged a regular season sweep at the hands of Valdosta State by beating them when it mattered the most. Morgan Bradford’s two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning gave the Lady Choctaws all the offense they needed to upset the Blazers. LaFosse went two-for-three at the dish for a second straight game, giving her four hits on the day.

Defensively, aces Avery Barnett (10-5) and Avery Sanders (first save of the year) combined to allow only four hits and strike out eight batters in the game.

Game 3: Mississippi College 8, West Georgia 0 (5 Innings)

The Lady Choctaws advanced to the GSC Championship Game with their fifth straight win over a regionally ranked team. LaFosse stayed hot, as her two-run single in the third brought home Lee and Rayne Minor. Annemarie Peavy doubled in both LaFosse and Brooke Fagan right after that to help pad the lead. Designated Hitter Shelby Carlson also chipped in offensively, doubling home LaFosse and Fagan in the fifth inning.

Barnett earned her second straight win, giving up only two hits and striking out three batters. With the win, Mississippi College defeated West Georgia for the third time in the last week.

GSC Championship Game: #4 Auburn Montgomery 8, Mississippi College 2

Auburn Montgomery used a five-run fifth inning to break open the GSC Championship Game. McCall Lee’s two-run home run in the fourth inning had brought the Lady Choctaws within one run, but it ultimately was not enough. Lee led the Lady Choctaws with two hits, and her home run was her second of the tournament.

Lee, Barnett, and LaFosse made the GSC All-Tournament Team. Lee batted .500, hit two home runs, and drove in six runs in the tournament. Barnett pitched 15.4 innings and won decisions against Valdosta State and West Georgia. LaFosse hit .545 in the tournament and drove in four runs.

For O’Hair, the team’s postseason run was a major positive, and she believes that the team will be able to build off of it.

The run at the GSC tournament was a huge success for our team and program at this point in the season,” she said. “We are a young team, so having success against some of the toughest teams in our conference after struggling in regular season was extremely motivating for our team moving forward.”

“The feeling of postseason is like no other, and with our team being so young it gives us the motivation to want more of that feeling every year.”

The Lady Choctaws will hear their postseason fate on May 16th. The top-six teams will advance to the NCAA South Regional in Valdosta, Georgia, and the Lady Choctaws are currently ranked sixth in the NCAA South Region rankings.

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