By David Kapitan
MOUNT PLEASANT – The Van Lady Vandals dream season continued last weekend with a pair of victories over Atlanta on May 22-23.
Van took the field against the Lady Rabbits on May 22, overcoming an early deficit for a 10-6 win.
Down 3-0 after a rough top of the first, the Lady Vandals wasted little time reclaiming the momentum of game one. Hallee Carter and Ashlin Lovett jumpstarted the Van offense with singles in the bottom of the first. Kylee Moore brought in the pair with an RBI double. The one run Lady Rabbit advantage turned into a one run deficit later in the inning when Sierra Nichols drove in two with a single.
Van doubled their run total in the bottom of the third inning, plating four more runs for an 8-3 lead.
Atlanta cut the Lady Vandal advantage to 8-4 with a run in the top of the fifth, but Van roared back again moments later, scoring runs courtesy of a Carter home run and an Autumn McKinney RBI single.
The Lady Rabbits managed to chip away at their deficit with two runs in the seventh, but Van shut the door on the Atlanta comeback attempt to claim a 10-6 win.
Autumn McKinney pitched all seven innings for Van, allowing nine hits in her 15th win of the season.
Hallee Carter finished the game going 2 for 3 at the plate with a home run and an RBI. Nicole Gandy, McKinney, and Sierra Nichols each finished 2 for 4 at the plate, with McKinney and Nichols each adding 2 RBI.
Game two followed a similar script as the first game, with Atlanta taking an early lead only to watch Van come back and record the 8-6 series ending win.
Atlanta scored four runs in the bottom of the first, only to watch bounce back with three runs in the top of the third to give the Lady Rabbits the 4-3 lead.
Atlanta added another run off of Van starter Nicole Gandy in the bottom of the fourth, extending their advantage to 5-3.
The lead would remain the same until the top of the sixth, when Van finally managed another breakthrough against Atlanta starter Jaci Collins. The Lady Vandals scored twice, tying the score at 5-5 and sending the game into extra innings.
The Lady Vandals took their first lead of the night in the top of the ninth inning, scoring runs on an error, a walk, and an RBI single to take the 8-5 lead.
Atlanta managed to score a single run in the bottom of the inning, cutting the final margin of victory to 8-6 in favor of Van.
Nicole Gandy shouldered a heavy load for the Lady Vandals, pitching all 9 innings. Gandy also helped her own cause at the plate, going 3 for 6 with a double and an RBI.
Other Lady Vandal contributors included Kylee Moore, going 1 for 4 with 2 RBI, Autumn McKinney, going 1 for 2 with an RBI, Ashlin Lovett, going 1 for 6 with an RBI. Hallee Carter, Sierra Nichols and Devri Cotton also added hits for Van.
The two wins over the Lady Rabbits improved the Lady Vandals season record to 30-5-1, catapulting the team to a 3A State Tournament appearance against Snyder on May 29. The game will be played at Red and Charline McCombs Field in Austin. First pitch is scheduled for 9 a.m.