Bulldogs bow out at NJCAA Tourney

Bulldogs bow out at NJCAA Tourney

OXFORD, Ala. — A magical, memorable, tumultuous Mississippi Gulf Coast softball season ended Friday in the consolation semifinal of the NJCAA Division II Softball Championship. The Bulldogs lost 11-1 in five innings to Louisburg at Choccolocco Park.


"That game certainly doesn't define us," Gulf Coast coach Kenneth Long said. "This team has been great all year. As soon as we got here — Feb. 1 was our first day— they've been phenomenal. They've done what we've asked them to do and become a great team."


Gulf Coast finished 37-16 and fourth in the country. The Bulldogs had never won four games in the tournament before, and the only better performance was a third-place finish in 2007. Gulf Coast went 2-2 that year in a smaller field.


The Bulldogs had remarkable comebacks in the regular season, including a pair of seven-run comebacks in a single game and a slew of seventh-inning walkoffs. They pulled off another on Wednesday to stay alive after losing to Jones earlier in the day. The Bulldogs trailed Murray State 6-1 in the third before winning 8-7 in nine innings.


Coach Kenneth Long was called out of retirement six games into the season to coach his 19th season. Long, who won his 600th game in April, missed the first game Thursday after a kidney stone attack. The team beat Kirkwood 8-2 in eight innings, then knocked out Highland 5-3 after he returned just before game time.


He was back on the field for the showdown against third-seeded Louisburg (48-7), but things snowballed quickly the wrong way.


"We've come out so many times and got three up, three down, and got out of the inning so quick," Long said. "That first inning was long, and the second inning they scored some runs. We never really recovered from it. We just couldn't quite get our feet back under us and get going."


The Hurricanes scored two in the first and five in the second. Gulf Coast got its only run in the second, when Emaleigh Coates (Fr., Lucedale /George County) singled in Briana Shores (So., Richland/Richland). Shores had to evade the catcher three times before touching the plate.


The Bulldogs left two on in that inning and loaded the bases in the fourth without scoring. They stranded seven in five innings. Coates was the only Bulldog with two hits.


Gulf Coast was making its sixth appearance in the national tournament (2001, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2021).


For more information on MGCCC's 10 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCBulldogs on Twitter and MGCCCBulldogs on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.

BY Don Hammack
Sports Information Director
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College