GALLMAN — For the Parklane Pioneers, Saturday's Game 2 of the MAIS AAAAA Championship Series was reminiscent of their season. The ladies got off to a good start and had to overcome some late adversity before coming out on top at the end.
And when the dust settled, the Pioneers came away with the 7-5 win over Copiah Academy claiming their second-consecutive state title. Last season Parklane won the AAAA title before being moved up to the higher class during the offseason.
“I’m just extremely proud of the girls for overcoming some adversity early in the game and just having to try and settle down and play our game,” Parklane head coach Greg Gatlin said. “I’m just really proud of them.”
Parklane (27-6) jumped ahead early when for the second-straight game leadoff hitter Lana Johnson homered during her first at bat. “I was looking for a slow pitch and I knew that I had to be patient,” said Johnson who finished 1-for-2 with an RBI and two runs scored. “I just put a good cut on it.”
The Pioneer lead grew to 2-0 later in the inning when Liberty Gillihan singled to center allowing Meg Gatlin to score.
The Colonels answered right back, scoring a one run in each of the next three innings on two RBI singles and a home run, respectively, taking their first lead of the evening at 3-2.
Following the home run, Copiah put two more runners on base threatening to add to its lead, but Pioneer starter Alli Albritton forced the ensuing batter to fly out, preventing any more damage from being done.
She got some help in the top of the fourth inning when Rachel Platt hit a sacrifice fly to left allowing Halee Jenkins to touch home tying the game at 3.
“The offense was huge,” said Albritton who went the distance for Parklane allowing nine hits, five runs, and two walks while striking out four. “We didn’t leave many runners out there on the pond. We just took advantage of many of the opportunities that they gave us.”
Albritton got right back to work in the bottom half of the inning sitting down the Colonels in order.
The 1-2-3 inning seemed to light a fire in the Pioneers who began to display a more consistent offensive attack. Despite facing one out in the top of the fifth, Parklane went on a run to not only retake the lead but put some distance between itself and Copiah.
With one out, Jenkins hit a sacrifice fly to center allowing Johnson to score.
"Before the inning, Coach Greg (Gatlin) told us that we need to put some more runs on the board," Jenkins said. "So I knew even though if that meant for me getting out, I had to hit it into the outfield just so Lana (Johnson) could score. And so, I did and I am happy.”
After the sacrifice fly, Gillihan smacked a single to left field bringing Meg Gatlin home.
Even though it turned out to be the final game of the year for her, ensuing batter GiGi Lindsey saved her best for last with her first home run of the year, a two-run shot over the left field wall giving the Pioneers the 7-3 advantage.
“I was really hoping that I would get a good hit,” Lindsey said. “Whenever she threw that ball in there, I was like ‘this is my chance,’ then I just sent it.”
Albritton ran into a bit of trouble in the fifth when the Colonels put two runners on, but the senior showed her grit and tenacity, forcing yet another pop out getting the Pioneers out of the inning unscathed. The first two outs of the inning came courtesy of Libby Carr who made a heads-up double play tagging third base before firing the ball across the diamond to Jenkins at first.
In the sixth, an error and single on back-to-back at-bats plated two Copiah runs inching the Colonels a bit closer at 7-5, but a ground out during the ensuing at bat ended the inning.
The Pioneers could not produce any more insurance runs for Albritton in the seventh. However the senior forced three-straight pop ups in the bottom half of the inning, giving Parklane the win and the state title.
Gillihan and Lindsey each finished with two hits, two RBIs and a run scored. Jenkins also had two hits to go with one RBI and one run scored.
The game marked the final for Parklane seniors Maddie Dixon, Alli Robinson, Emma Roberts, Nan Gatlin, Albritton, Jenkins and Platt.
Looking ahead to next year, Platt said that she expects the young group that will be returning to compete for a title once again.
“Those kids, next year, they are not going to take no for an answer, they are going to be hungry,” she said. “They are going to have to fight harder than they ever have before and I truly believe that they can do it again.”