RIDGELAND – Katie Gordon was thrown out at home on the back end of a game-ending double play Thursday as Enterprise-Clarke held on for a 3-2 win over East Webster in the opening game of the Class 2A state championship series.
The win gives the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three set, hosted at Ridgeland's Freedom Ridge Park, with the series set to resume with the second and, if needed, third game beginning Saturday at 11 a.m.
As a result of Enterprise-Clarke's series-opening win, East Webster now has its backs against the wall, but Wolverines first-year head coach Meleah Brown says her team may be able to benefit from Thursday's defeat.
"It's kind of like a wake-up call for us," said Brown. "We hadn't lost a playoff game yet, so it may be for the best that we lost so we won't be too confident going into (Saturday)."
While Brown's theory may well be true, East Webster came so close to pulling out Thursday's win.
The Wolverines put forth an early statement, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning behind a two-out Swayze Hollenhead single followed by a run-scoring double by Bailey Williams.
Enterprise-Clarke quickly rebounded however, evening the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the first.
The score remained tied until the Bulldogs pulled ahead 2-1 with a solo home run in the middle innings.
By the seventh inning, Enterprise-Clarke held its 3-2 lead, but East Webster put up a last at-bat comeback attempt that fell just short.
With one out, Katie Gordon reached on error and Autumn Frost doubled to put runners at second and third.
When Cayley McClellan followed Frost's double with a ground ball to the pitcher, Enterprise-Clarke was able to throw McClellan out at first base and then nab Gordon at home plate as she tried to score upon the throw to first.
"It was so close," said Brown. "If that doesn't happen and (Gordon) stays at third, you've got runners at second and third with (Hollenhead) coming up to bat."
Instead, the Wolverines now must beat Enterprise-Clarke twice Saturday to claim the state title.
Though Thursday's loss was unquestionably tough, Brown says her club has what it takes to bounce back.
"I was frustrated and the girls were upset just because of the way we lost (Thursday), knowing we could have won the game," said Brown. "At the same time, we all know now what we're up against. I feel like if we can win the first game Saturday...usually whoever wins Game 2 is going to win the series because the momentum changes completely. If we can win and and gain that momentum, that'd be good. We're all ready."