By Brad Greer
Just a word of advice to North Delta’s Vicki Johnson. Do not switch bats with anyone else the rest of the season.
With her team trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning Tuesday night against Magnolia Heights, teammate Bradi Beard had a few words with Johnson before going to the plate.
“Bradi and I both had bad at-bats the time before so we decided to switch bats to see if that would help,” said Johnson. The decision helped as the senior delivered a two-out triple then scored the tying run on a wild pitch. Two innings later, Johnson slapped a bases loaded single into right that scored Morgan Lawrence to give the Lady Green Waves a thrilling 5-4 victory over the No. 5 ranked Chiefs.
“Tonight was just one big team effort. We got down 3-1 early but we battled back to tie it up and made some big plays on defense and got some great pitching from Mary Jane (Morrow). We just battled every pitch and every out and never gave up,” said Johnson, who came into the contest with a team second-best .447 batting average.
With the win, North Delta (13-3) extended their winning streak to seven games in a row while Magnolia Heights (13-4-1) lost its fourth one-run game of the season.
The Green Wave got an outstanding pitching performance from Mary Jane Morrow as the senior pitched five innings of relief to pick up the win.
Morrow surrendered one run on six hits while striking out three and walking one. Samantha Massoth started the game and gave up three runs in two innings of work.
North Delta got on the board in the bottom of the first as leadoff hitter Hillari Plummer drilled a triple and then later scored on a wild pitch.
Magnolia Heights then took a 3-1 lead in the top of the second as Summer Steakley and Jordan Alliston led off with a pair of singles. After Kimberly Austin reached on a fielders’ choice to load the bases, Maidline Ross drilled a double past a diving Johnson in center field to plate both Steakley and Alliston. Ross later scored on Andrea Steward’s fielders’ choice.
The Green Wave plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the third to tie the game 3-3 as Plummer, who is batting a team best .458, reached on a bunt single. Linsey Hebert followed with a blast over the center fielder’s head that resulted in an inside-the-park homerun.
In the seventh, the Chiefs put runners on second and third with no outs, but Morrow worked her way out of the jam by retiring the next three batters on two ground outs and a strike out to end the inning.
“This was a big win for us tonight,“ said North Delta head coach Brooke Turner. “This was an exciting game, both teams gave it their all and this was the kind of game that everybody would love to play in and to watch. I can not tell you how proud I am of the effort our kids gave tonight. Vicki of course had two big hits and we made some big plays on defense, but I’ve got to give Mary Jane props tonight. She came in and did her job and got out of a jam there in the seventh. If we can give that effort the rest of the season we are going to be tough to beat,” said Turner.
North Delta registered 10 hits in the game as Hebert added a single to her home run while Laci Dubravec had a pair of singles. Massoth chipped in with a single.
Magnolia Heights was led at the plate by Steakley and Ross with two hits followed by Abi Gibson with a single.
North Delta remained undefeated in district play with a 4-0 victory Monday at Kirk. Johnson led a 14-hit attack with four singles while Hebert followed with three singles and a RBI. Lauren Kimzey and Beard added a pair of singles. Mary Jane Morrow and Julianna Morrow each had singles followed by Plummer with a double.
The Green Wave will travel to West Memphis, (Ark.) Monday and to Marshall on Tuesday in district matchups.
Both games will start at 4 p.m. North Delta’s next home game will be Sept.14 against Indianola.