May 6, 2011 8:51:00 AM
CLINTON - A 12-run fourth inning by the nation''s top-ranked team spelled doom for the East Mississippi Community College softball team in a 16-2 loss to LSU-Eunice on Thursday afternoon in opening-day action of the 2011 NJCAA Region 23 tournament at Traceway Park.
Making its first regional appearance since 2002, EMCC (23-22) hung tough with the No. 1 Lady Bengals for the opening three innings. Following a three-run home run by LSUE''s Logane Fuselier in the second inning, the sixth-seeded Lady Lions countered with two runs of their in the top of the third. After Cayla Coleman and DeShuni Sanders reached base, All-Region shortstop Mallory Pace singled to center field for EMCC''s first run. Two batters later, All-Region performer Lainie Simcox doubled down the left-field line to cut the deficit to 3-2.
In the bottom half of the third, LSUE''s Haley McCall homered to center field off starting pitcher Amy Johnson to make it a two-run game. An inning later, the Lady Bengals heated up, as they sent 18 batters to the plate in scoring 12 runs on 11 hits to put the contest out of reach.
EMCC was outhit 18-7 in the game. Coleman, a sophomore second baseman from Clarkdale High School, went 2-for-3 to pace the Lady Lions.
Johnson, a freshman right-hander from Starks, La., took the loss to fall to 17-13. Heather Abshire earned the victory for LSU-Eunice (49-9).
EMCC will meet fourth-seeded Jones County at noon today. The Lady Bobcats dropped to the losers'' bracket following a 1-0 setback to state champion East Central after beating No. 5 seed Pearl River 4-1 earlier Thursday.