By JOEL COLEMAN
When their day was complete at the Starkville Sportsplex Saturday, the Starkville Academy softball team settled for a win in just one of their three games played.
SA head coach Kayla Mosley couldn't help but feel like her Lady Volunteers should have ended the day with a winning record.
After defeating Jackson Prep 4-3 and losing to Carroll Academy 1-0 earlier in the day at the College Exposure Tournament, the Lady Vols saw a one-run lead evaporate late against Magnolia Heights in what turned out to be a 5-4, extra-inning loss.
"You take away all the errors and our baserunning mistakes, and if we could have held their baserunners, it doesn't even get to be a tie ballgame," said Mosley. "We've got to eliminate the mistakes."
Unfortunately for Mosley and the Lady Vols however, their miscues ultimately did catch up with them.
Playing as the visiting team, SA held a 4-3 lead over Magonlia Heights in the bottom of the sixth before the Lady Chiefs knotted the score at 4-4.
Both teams failed to score in the seventh, but Starkville Academy had an opportunity to surge back ahead in the top of the eighth.
With Nikki Ford beginning the inning on second base, per extra-inning rules, she advanced to third on a wild pitch with no one out.
After Julianne Jackson's infield pop-up failed to score Ford, Lauren Ware came to the plate, looking for her second clutch extra-inning hit in three days following her walk-off single in SA's Thursday win over East Rankin.
Ware didn't get the chance to duplicate her Thursday heroics.
On a wild pitch to Ware, Ford tried to score from third but was nabbed for the second out of the inning.
Ware then flied out to deep centerfield to end the frame on a drive that would have most likely allowed Ford to score had she still been at third base.
"At first, I was pretty upset about (sending Ford to the plate)," said Mosley. "But who knows what would have happened, and it was a bang-bang play (at the plate). If she scores, I'm glad I sent her.
"I'm not going to beat myself up about it. That's one play and there were a lot of things that happened throughout the course of the game that could have changed the whole thing."
Magnolia Heights cemented the win in the bottom of the eighth.
With Shannon Massey starting the inning on second base and advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt, Andi Hannaford slapped a walk-off, run-scoring single to right field.
It was a sight Magnolia Heights coach Jim Patterson loved to see as his team moved to 14-3 overall for the year.
"We're just a young group, learning as we go," said Patterson. "Starkville's got a good ballclub. (Jackson) is a tough pitcher that pitched well against us last year and pitched another good game against us here.
"She threw three games today and was throwing just as hard against us in the eighth inning as she was in the first inning."
Yet Jackson and the Lady Vols simply couldn't find a way to put the Lady Chiefs away.
Though SA took a 1-0 lead early in the contest, Magnolia Heights scored three times in the third to go up 3-1.
The Lady Vols retook the advantage in the top of the fifth when Emily Gregory, April Burney and Mary Austin Barber each reached base courtesy of two walks and an error respectively, then all came around to score and make it 4-3 in favor of SA.
That score stood until Magnolia Heights put together the game-tying rally in the sixth before pressing on to the win.
"If we had played like us, the team I know we have, I feel like that's a ballgame we should have won," said Mosley.
After Saturday's action, SA now sits at 11-10 overall for the season.
The Lady Vols return to play on Monday when they travel to Jackson Prep for a junior varsity/varsity doubleheader that begins at 4:30 p.m.