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Alex hangs on to edge Ole Miss

SWINgING IN THE RAIN: Mississinewa’s Kylie Smalley takes a cut in the seventh inning of the Indians’ 3-2 loss to Alexandria on Thursday in Gas City.

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

GAS CITY — The Mississinewa softball team had its opportunities to earn at least a share of the Central Indiana Conference championship Thursday evening, but base running errors and the inability to get a timely hit proved costly.

Junior Jenna Berryhill limited a very young, but hard hitting Alexandria team to just five hits and four walks, but the Tigers scratched out single runs in the top of the first, second and fifth innings then held on for a 3-2 win over the Indians.

The loss was just the third of the season for the Ole Miss, but it was the second in conference play and they now trail both Alexandria and Frankton, each who have just one setback in league. Both the Tigers and Eagles still have conference games remaining and the possibility the Indians (12-3, 5-2 in CIC) could share the league crown still exists

Berryhill struck out nine Tigers and scattered five hits and kept Alex to nearly six runs below its season average, but Ole Miss left seven runners on base, five in scoring position and had runners that were in scoring position thrown out on the bases.

“We didn’t run bases very good tonight,” said Ole Miss coach Steve Miller. “We had three big mistakes running bases and took the bat out of our three and four hitters hands, it’s not very smart.”

Still the Indians battled and hung in against three different Alexandria pitchers and even had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the seventh.

Amaya David led of the home fourth inning with a walk and stole second base, then advanced to third on one Alexandria’s three errors. Aubrey Tann drove in David with a solid single to trim Alexandria’s lead to, 2-1.

After the Tigers extended their lead to 3-1 in the top of the fifth, back-to-back doubles by Alivia Rice and Kylie Smalley pulled Ole Miss back within a run. But with two outs, Smalley was picked off second by the Alexandria catcher with three-hole hitter Lexi Cruzan at the plate.

Cruzan led off the sixth with a single for Ole Miss and was on third with one out when she got in a rundown and was tagged out after Berryhill hit ball back to the pitcher.

Madison Dotterweich drew a one-out walk in the seventh inning, just about the same time the skies opened up and dumped rain on the players for a few minutes. With two outs Smalley hit a pop up in front of the plate that turned into a hit when the Alex catcher struggled to see the ball through the heaviest period of rain in the inning. Riley McKee followed with a walk to load the bases, but Cruzan was retired on a high pop-up to first as the rain had nearly quit. 

“They didn’t quit. They quit by any means,” Miller said of the Indians. “I thought Jenna pitched a whale of a game. These guys are a good team. 

“It’s a good group of kids and they catch fire every once in awhile in games and they don’t quit,” Miller added. 

Smalley had two hits and reached base three times. Madison Stanley, Tann, Rice and Cruzan also added hits while David walked twice.

Mississinewa now faces a schedule that could rival an MLB team in frequency. Ole Miss travels to Angola on Saturday to face both the Hornets and Whitko. The Indians will then face Northwestern, Southwood, Huntington North and Eastern on consecutive days starting Monday before finishing the regular season with the postponed Grant Four at Eastbrook on May 18.