Northwest softball sweeps Jackson State in twinbill

Dickerson, Harrison earn victories in the circle

Photo: McKaylee Polk rounds third base after being congratulated by Northwest coach Chelsea Bramlett on a home run. (Photo credit: MaKenzi Curtis/nwccrangers.com)

By Brian Lentz, NWCC Sports Information Director

Under the bright lights of Ranger Softball Field, No. 8 Northwest picked up right where they left off last season, earning a pair of 11-4 and 7-0 victories against Jackson State (Tenn.) on Monday evening.

Gabby Dickerson delivered eight strikeouts in four innings of work, propelling the Rangers to the win in Game 1, while Allyson Harrison struck out 11 batters across five total innings in the nightcap. Freshman Neely Cooper also went the final three innings in the early game, earning her first career save.

Offensively, Northwest was paced by the efforts of sophomore McKaylee Polk, who smashed two homers and finished a combined 3-for-6 at the plate. Cooper also had a big day at the plate, finishing 3-for-4 with a grand slam, while fellow freshman Kara Johnson finished 4-for-7 with a homer of her own.

Next up for Northwest (2-0) is a rematch with Jackson State on the road, set for 12/2 P.M. on Wednesday, Feb. 15.

Game 1 – #8 Northwest 11, Jackson State (Tenn.) 4

Behind a 13-hit effort led by Kara Johnson, Northwest cruised to an 11-4 victory in the opening game of the Rangers’ 2023 debut series.

Johnson, a native of Senatobia, finished 3-for-4 at the plate with a solo homer in the bottom of the third inning. Her former Senatobia High teammate, McKaylee Polk, also homered right behind her in the batting order during the same inning. 

Prior to the third inning, Northwest got the scoring started in the second, when Allyson Harrison’s triple to right center scored Neely Cooper from third. Anna Nickens and Madeline Houk also delivered a pair of RBI-base hits, helping the Rangers to a 3-0 lead.

Jackson State responded in the top of the third inning, after Rachel Montgomery’s leadoff single was followed by an error on Jazmyne Brown’s at-bat. Breanna Ramsey would then tie the game with her towering shot over left field, clearing the bases.

The aforementioned back-to-back homers from Johnson and Polk made it a 5-3 advantage for Northwest in the bottom of the third. Crista Wilson’s two-run single up the middle gave the Rangers some breathing room at 7-3.

Jackson State threatened to pull closer in the top of the fourth with Lanie Stafford’s leadoff double, but Dickerson delivered three strikeouts and stranded a pair of runners on base, denying any more runs for the Greenjays.¬†

A pair of singles from Johnson and Kaylee Owens and a hit-by-pitch on Polk’s at-bat loaded up the bases to start the bottom of the fourth for the Rangers, and Cooper delivered a grand slam to give Northwest the 11-3 lead.

Jackson State did get a run back in the top of the fifth with an RBI-single from Kassidy Davis, but neither team would score the rest of the way. Cooper posted two strikeouts, a walk and an earned run in her relief effort, while Dickerson collected eight strikeouts against a pair of walks and three earned runs to earn her 27th career victory.

Cooper, Houk and Owens finished with two hits apiece, while Harrison, Nickens, Polk and Wilson finished with one hit each. Six different Jackson State players finished with one hit apiece.

Kaley Haggard was handed the loss for the Greenjays, allowing seven earned runs on seven hits and two walks in 2.2 innings of work. Callie Chrystak pitched the final 3.1 innings, striking out two Northwest batters and allowing four earned runs.

Game 2 – #8 Northwest 7, Jackson State (Tenn.) 0

A four-run first inning set the tone for Northwest, as the Rangers shutout Jackson State by a 7-0 final.

After Harrison delivered a pair of strikeouts in the top of the first, Northwest went right to work at the plate. Johnson and Reese Vanlandingham kicked things off with a pair of singles and Polk followed with an RBI-double deep out to left field, scoring Vanlandingham and getting Northwest on the board quickly.

Owens followed with a two-run single and Nickens sent an RBI-double to left field later in the frame, building the Rangers’ 4-0 lead.

As Harrison continued to fan batters from the circle, Northwest added more to its lead in the bottom of the third. Maggie Ross singled to center field, but advanced to second on a throwing error that would also allow Nickens to score from third.

Leading 5-0, the Rangers picked up two more runs in the bottom of the fourth, thanks to a solo homer from Polk and an RBI-triple from Harrison, widening the gap to 7-0.

Jackson State never threatened over the final three innings, as Harrison retired the side in the top half of the fifth. Kylee Brown then finished things off over the last two frames, delivering a strikeout to Haggard to end the game.

Harrison’s Northwest debut couldn’t have gone any smoother, as the Itawamba transfer dealt 11 strikeouts against one walk, while allowing only one hit. She also finished 1-for-3 at the plate with an RBI, while Polk went 2-for-3 to lead all Ranger batters in Game 2.

Davis picked up the loss in the circle for Jackson State, despite earning five strikeouts in four innings of work. Chrystak finished off the final two frames for the Greenjays, delivering a pair of strikeouts and keeping the Rangers off the board.

Bob Bakken

Bob Bakken is the most recognized and most trusted name in DeSoto County news and sports reporting, as readers continue to express their appreciation for his accuracy and fairness in the stories he writes. Bob is also heard on 95.3 The Rebel twice a week with sports updates and high school football play-by-play broadcasts in the fall. A former newspaper editor and writer, his award-winning background also includes television news producing, sports media relations, and radio broadcasting.

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