PERKINSTON — A no-hitter. A triple play. A 10-run comeback. Sweeping the defending national champions.
It was anything but a routine day at the office for No. 2 Mississippi Gulf Coast, which used all that to beat No. 16 LSU Eunice 7-0 and 12-11 at Ross-Smith Field.
"We talked about today in the office how we needed to see what we are made of," Gulf Coast coach Eric Neel said. "We found a way to do it the hard way. How many teams (with an 11-0 record) down by 10 really want to fight back? We're pretty sure we'll lose one throughout the year, but we didn't lay down and take a loss today. I'm extremely proud of what they did."
Gulf Coast has won 12 straight, including three straight games against LSU Eunice. Kristen Cade (So, Harrison Central/Saucier) struck out nine for her second MGCCC no-hitter.
"I realized in the sixth inning that something wasn't adding up," she said. "I knew I was striking out as many as I usually do, but they weren't hitting. Coach (Danielle) Barton pointed that out to me, so I didn't realize until I looked at the board."
The University of Louisiana signee also pitched the final five hitless outs in the second game, picking up two more strikeouts. In 15.2 innings over the last three games against the Bengals, she's 3-0 with 25 strikeouts and four walks. Cade has only allowed three hits.
"She's just being Kristen, just saying, 'I'm better than you, and you're not gonna hit it,'" said Neel.
There was even more drama in the second game, where the Bengals (11-10) scored 10 times in the third inning. But the Bulldogs immediately began climbing the mountain.
Addison Renfroe (So, Lee County/Leesburg, Ga.) homered with one out in the bottom of the inning, and Rakeya Travis (Fr, Poplarville/Poplarville) hit an RBI single up the middle.
Briana Shores (So, Richland/Richland) followed with a three-run homer, and the deficit was 10-5.
LSU Eunice hit a solo homer in the fourth, and it couldn't have been far worse for the home team. But Hannah Herrington (Fr, Enterprise/Enterprise) started a triple play by catching a liner in right field. Her throw home beat the runner tagging from third, who retreated to the bag where she was tagged out. Meanwhile, the runner from second had made it to third and started retreating. Gulf Coast alertly picked her off midway between the bases for just a routine F9-2-5-6 triple play.
The Bulldogs went down in order in the bottom of the frame, but they wouldn't the next two innings.
Marsha' Hunt (So, Philadelphia/Philadelphia) started a four-run fifth with an RBI single, and Kayla Cade (So, Harrison Central/Saucier) grounded out to drive in another run.
Herrington drove in two more with a single down the right-field line to make it 11-9.
Caroline Moore (Fr, Maryville/Maryville, Tenn.) and Alexis Laughlin (Fr, East Central/Hurley) led off the sixth win infield hits to bring up Travis. Her sixth home run of the season seemed almost predestined, and her rocket over the left-field wall put the Bulldogs in front.
"I was confident stepping in the batter's box, and I knew I had to get it done for my team," Travis said. "My team picked me up, fixed my mentality."
Laughlin had five hits on the afternoon, and Travis drove in six runs with her four hits. Jenn Perkins (So, Barbe/Lake Charles, La.) also homered among her four hits. Hot-hitting Shores had a home run and is now batting .513.
"We knew our hitting matched up well with their pitching," Neel said. "We'd hit some balls hard all day and got out. Eventually, those balls will find a way to get through."
Gulf Coast will get a couple days to catch its breath after the dramatic Monday before opening MACJC play against No. 12 Itawamba. First pitch as Ross-Smith Field is set for 2 p.m.
For more information on MGCCC's 10 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCBulldogs on Twitter and MGCCCBulldogs on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.
Sports Information Director
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College