CALEDONIA — Caledonia High School softball coach Andy Halford likes to call his team the “comeback kids.”
The Lady Feds will need to live up to that moniker to keep their season alive Thursday night.
Caledonia opened its second-round Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A playoff series with a 4-3 loss to Tishomingo County Tuesday night at Lady Feds Field.
Caledonia (18-4) will have to win twice Thursday at Tishomingo County (23-5) to win the best-of-three series and to keep the season alive.
“We have been the comeback kids all year,” Halford said. “That’s what I told them after the game. I fully expect to be playing (a home game) next Tuesday (in the third round). This group has been resilient and fought the entire season. I expect to see that in both games Thursday.”
While Tishomingo County had all three errors in the game, some brilliant defensive play in the outfield and at third base saved the Lady Braves in the series opener.
“We had four, maybe five 80 percent balls,” Halford said. “Balls that will fall in about 80 percent of the time. We had some great at-bats. We just needed one of those to fall in and it’s a win. That’s the good news. Our players know how close we were. That means you go on the road and get a couple of those hits to fall in and you can advance.”
Tishomingo County struck for three runs in the first inning. The Lady Braves put together four hits and a walk to do that damage. A two-run double by Breanna Rose pushed the Lady Braves to that 3-0 lead.
Carlee Dale was touched for two more hits in the second inning but had things under control after that. The Lady Braves were held hitless from the third through sixth innings before the top of the lineup did more damage and scraped together a run in the top half of the seventh inning.
“They have one of the best offensive lineups we have faced,” Halford said. “After the first inning, we pitched it well and we also made all the plays in the field. That is what gave us a chance.”
In the home half of the first inning, Hope Harbin started things with a line drive caught by the right fielder — the first of three great defensive plays by the outfield. Maddy Suggs followed with a hit but was thrown out stealing.
In the second inning, Lauren Duckworth and Dale had back-to-back hits for Caledonia. Two infield errors allowed the two runs to score.
A dropped a third strike and another infield error plated the game-tying run in the fourth inning.
In the Caledonia seventh inning, CC Devos had a two-out double. Harbin was then walked intentionally. Another great defensive play ended the contest.
“In the playoffs you have to do everything just right,” Halford said. “This team never gets down. Instead, they get more determined. We have to go on the road and do one more thing to win a couple of games. We will embrace that opportunity.”
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.