HARRISON COUNTY — Abbey Salvo stood at the plate in the bottom of the eighth, looking out at bases loaded with Mississippi Gulf Coast teammates, facing a 1-2 count with the Lady Bulldogs down two against the No. 1 team in the land.
And she delivered.
Her triple soared over the center fielder, clearing the bases and delivering a doubleheader split with a 7-6 victory at West Harrison High School.
"Amazing," the freshman second baseman from Brandon said. "It's undescribable the feeling I've got."
One bad inning doomed No. 5 Gulf Coast in the first game. The Lady Bobcats won the first game 7-0 to extend their season-opening win streak to 29, but it wouldn't get to 30 thanks to late-inning heroics and Aidan Nichols' work in the circle.
Aidan Nichols (Fr, Brandon/Brandon) settled in after giving up four runs in the first two innings, eventually retiring eight in a row. She improved to 12-4 by striking out a season-high 11 and walking just two. Nichols allowed seven hits and survived some shaky defense behind her.
"She was throwing harder. I think her adrenaline was going," Long said. "She was keeping it low on them, and they were having a hard time hitting that pitch."
Gulf Coast tied the game at 2 in the bottom of the first on a double steal and an Izzy Werdann (So, Pensacola, Fla./Tate) RBI single.
After JCJC scored twice in the second, the Lady Bulldogs knotted it back up in the third on a Precious Sanders (Fr, Philadelphia/Philadelphia) RBI single and a Paige Dill (Fr, Olive Branch/Lewisburg) sacrifice fly.
Neither team could push across a run in regulation, but Jones capitalized after Gulf Coast couldn't make a pair of defensive plays in the top of the eighth to take a 6-4 lead.
Lexie Mathis (So, Mobile, Ala./Baker) led off the bottom of the inning with a flare that landed just inside the right-field line. After the next two batters were retired, Dill's hard ground ball was missed by the Jones shortstop, and Kristen Sexton (Fr, Gulfport/West Harrison) reached when the pitcher couldn't pick up a soft ground ball.
"I know we're a two-out kinda team," Salvo said. "We can rally on two. It's not that big a deal for us."
Salvo took strike one and fouled off the second pitch. After the count moved to 1-2, she smoked a line drive over the center fielder's head and the race was on.
"I was really proud she was able to come in there with two strikes, the bases loaded and two outs and just pick the whole team up," said Nichols.
Salvo also doubled in the game. Mathis went 3-for-4 and scored three times. Sanders had two hits.
Nora Keehn (So, Thibodaux, La./Vandebilt Catholic) took the hard-luck loss in the opener. Only one of the seven runs she allowed was earned thanks to three Gulf Coast errors.
All six runs in the fourth-inning explosion were unearned, including a grand slam by Autumn Frost. The Bulldogs managed only five hits.
Gulf Coast returns to action Saturday with a trip to Meridian. The doubleheader starts at 1 p.m.
For more information on MGCCC's 10 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCAthletics on Twitter and BulldogLIVE on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.