No. 5 Mississippi Gulf Coast beat the top-ranked team in the country and allowed just one run in 21 innings, picking up two wins at the Rush Invitational in Meridian and bringing softball coach Kenneth Long within one game of the 500-win plateau.
Nora Keehn (So, Thibodaux, La./Vandebilt Catholic) and Aidan Nichols (Fr, Brandon/Brandon) pitched shutouts, and Lexie Mathis slammed two home runs as Gulf Coast defeated No. 1 LSU-Eunice 1-0 and Baton Rouge 7-0.
The Lady Bulldogs (8-3) fell in the first game of the day 1-0 to Shelton State, the 10th-ranked team in Division I. Gulf Coast plays in Division II.
The Lady Bulldogs will try to win 500 for Long against Marion Military (9-13) at 11 a.m. Saturday at Northeast Park. They also play Heartland at 3 p.m.
"I haven't given it much thought because that LSU-E game was such a revenge game," Long said. "We needed that game. I just kept thinking we needed that game."
The Lady Bulldogs had traveled to Eunice earlier in the week and gotten swept in a doubleheader.
Keehn struck out four, walked one and scattered eight hits to beat the defending national champions. She stranded seven Lady Bengals baserunners.
"She pitched really, really well. The ball was moving well," Long said. "She gave up some hits, but she did a great job limiting what LSU-E tries to do with those big hitters. She pitched a gem of a game. It was amazing to watch."
Mathis hit her second home run of the season leading off the bottom of the first. It was a line drive to dead center. It was all the support Keehn (4-1) would need, and Mathis helped seal it by catching a medium line drive in the seventh and throwing to Abbey Salvo (Fr, Brandon/Brandon) to double an LSU-E runner off second.
Mathis homered again in the second inning of the Baton Rogue game to bust it open.
"They pitch around her so much," Long said. "She gets so many walks, it's hard for her to get in a groove. Today she got in a better groove."
It made the score 4-0, and Nichols (4-2) took care of the rest. In addition to hitting two triples, she struck out eight and allowed only three hits.
"She pitched good all day," Long said. "She threw well tonight. She kept them off balance and battled. She got some big hits for us, too."
Kristen Sexton (Fr, Gulfport/West Harrison) had three hits, including two doubles, against Baton Rouge. She finished with six hits in 10 at-bats on the day.
In the opener, Shelton State pushed across the game's only run in the sixth inning. Gulf Coast had two runners in scoring position with two outs in the bottom of the inning, but couldn't push a run across.
Nichols took the hard-luck loss striking out eight and allowing seven hits.
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