It was turnabout favors when the Tupelo Lady Tigers and the Latta Lady Panthers met Monday afternoon at Swanson Field in their annual pre-regional tournament get-together.
After the Lady Panthers took advantage of some Tupelo defensive miscues to build an early lead, it was the Lady Tigers in the end who took advantage of some Latta defensive errors to rally for an 8-7, five-inning victory.
Trailing 4-0 after two innings, the Lady Tigers (20-5), ranked fourth in Class A, cut the deficit in half in the third inning on a two-out, two-RBI single by Megan Bray that made it 4-2.
The Lady Panthers (16-12), ranked seventh in Class 4A, got one of those runs back in their half of the third inning on a two-out, RBI single by Siera Green.
It was over the last two innings that the Lady Panthers made two critical errors, both of which the Lady Tigers cashed in on, to get the come-from-behind victory.
Tupelo’s Grace Leland hit her second home run of the season, a two-run shot, to cut the Latta lead to 5-4 in the fourth inning.
After Amber Roberson singled, the first of two Latta errors allowed Chesna Henry to reach base to put runners at first and second with two outs. Tamara Thompson then followed that up with an RBI single to score Roberson to tie the game at 5-5 after four innings.
Tupelo took its first lead of the game in the fifth inning on an RBI single by Landra Nelson.
But with two outs, a fly ball hit by Roberson was misplayed, allowing both Shanna Davidson and Nelson to score to put Tupelo ahead 8-5 with only one more at-bat left for the Lady Panthers.
Latta mounted a rally in its half of the seventh inning. An RBI double by Keeli Kessinger and a sacrifice fly by Devin Lyon cut the Tupelo lead to 8-7. But Nelson, Tupelo’s starting pitcher, got the next batter to groundout to end the game.
“We didn’t swing the bats too well in the early innings,” Tupelo coach Jason Goostree said. “We hit a couple of hard-hit balls right at them, and then we started to find some holes with our hits. The last two or three weeks, we’ve been able to overcome our mistakes, and it was the same thing (on Monday).”
The Lady Panthers broke the scoreless deadlock in the opening inning on Kessinger’s two-run homer, her 17th home run of the season, for a 2-0 lead — which was partially fueled by the first of two Tupelo errors.
The Latta lead doubled the lead to 4-0 in the second, again aided by the second Tupelo error of the game. Green scored on the error, and the fourth run scored on Amy Hooser’s RBI single which scored Makenzi Lamb.
But the main thing both coaches wanted was to work on key facets of the game which will likely come into play during their respective regional tournaments on Thursday.
“I wish we had made a couple of plays early,” Goostree said. “We should have picked a ball up at first, and we should have had an out later at third. We hope we’re getting to the point where we don’t make those. It’s always good to see somebody else. This was like a glorified practice. There’s nothing quite like getting pumped up to go play a game.”
“That’s why we do this with Tupelo each year,” Latta coach Jim Foster said. “It’s a good workout, and we can work on certain situations. That’s why we were all here, so that when it does count for something we can see what we need to do in regionals that we didn’t do here (on Monday).”
For the game, Thompson was 2-for-2 with a run batted in, Bray was 1-for-2 with two RBIs and a run scored, Nelson (20-5 with the win) aided her own cause with a 1-for-2 outing with an RBI and a run scored, Davidson was 1-for-3 with a run scored and Leland was 1-for-3 with her two-run homer and a run scored for Tupelo. The Lady Tigers will be idle until its Class A Regional Tournament in Davis — which was the site selected due to not having enough teams in the west to form another regional, according to Goostree. So, Big Pasture, which Tupelo plays at noon Thursday, and Indiahoma from the west were paired with Tupelo and Coleman from the east.
In defeat, Kessinger was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a run scored, Taylor McDonald was 2-for-3 with three runs scored, Green (16-12 with the loss) was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored and Lyon was 1-for-2 with an RBI for Latta, which was going to make up a previous rainout game at 5 p.m. today at Chandler before meeting Chisholm at 2:15 p.m. Thursday in Dale in Class 4A Regional play.
Tupelo 8, Latta 7
TUPELO 002 33 — 8 8 2
LATTA 221 02 — 7 10 2
Landra Nelson and Chesna Henry. Siera Green and Cheyenne Crews. WP-Nelson (20-5). LP-Henry (16-12). HR-Grace Leland (2) (T); Keeli Kessinger (17) (L). 2B-Green, Kessinger, Taylor McDonald, Sara Miller (L).