Gillis’s five RBIs not enough as Oxford’s district title hopes begin to dwindle

Published 10:20 pm Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Everything was going Oxford’s way.

The Lady Chargers appeared to be headed towards a second straight region title after jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the fourth inning of their clash with Tupelo when disaster struck.

First, eighth-grader Paisley Walls plunked back-to-back batters to put two on with nobody out.

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She then compounded the mistakes with another as she tried unsuccessfully to throw out the lead runner at third on a ball hit softly back to the circle.

Walls struggled to find the strike zone with the bases loaded and nobody out, issuing a walk to Tupelo’s Leah Stribling to push the first run of the night across for the Golden Wave.

The bases-loaded walk proved to be the end of the line for Walls as head coach Tabitha Beard opted to bring in Madi Jones from left with a 7-1 lead in hand.

“I think she’s an eighth-grader and she had an inning,” Beard said. “She came back in when we needed her to and she threw great but she had an inning. I think with maturity you eliminate that a bit but I mean she’s done such a good job and she did such a good job up to that point… She told me it didn’t feel right with [her] body so she’s mature enough to know that — I mean it happens.”

Jones did her best to limit the damage, forcing a popout to shallow right before inducing a grounder to second, but a costly fielding error allowed the ball to bounce into center and pushed two more Tupelo runs across the board.

Needing to win by at least five runs to flip the tiebreaker after suffering an 8-4 defeat at the hands of the Golden Wave earlier in the season, Oxford began aggressively pushing for another run.

They got the run they were looking for in the bottom of the fourth when Madelyn Yon drove in a run on an RBI groundout but quickly ceded the advantage right back in the top of the fifth when Jones gave up a moonshot home run to Tupelo’s Sadie Morris that brought the Golden Wave back within three.

Oxford was unable to find any more separation after that as they clung to the narrow lead and escaped with an 8-7 victory.

“They had a number in their head that they knew they needed to win by and when we kind of fell we started pressing,” Beard said. “At the end of the day a win’s a win.”

The Lady Chargers (10-9, 4-1 Region 1-6A) will now need some help from their Highway 6 rivals in order to secure their second straight district title with just a few games remaining in the regular season.

Oxford can still win the district if Tupelo drops either of their final two region games, but will likely face a first-round playoff series as the No. 2 seed in Region 1-6A.

The Lady Chargers close out their region schedule on the road against Grenada Thursday before closing out the regular season with a trio of non-region games against Lafayette, West Union and Tishomingo County.