Kenneth Long picked up his 585th career victory in his first game back in charge of the Mississippi Gulf Coast softball program, but the No. 4 Bulldogs had to settle for a split after a trip to No. 8 LSU Eunice.
Gulf Coast won the first game 8-7 before falling 19-4 in five innings in the second game in Eunice, La.
"It felt really good," Long said. "I was walking to the dugout when we first got here, and man, it was hard to believe, but I had butterflies. It felt really good. We played hard that first game, and it was a really exciting game. This team has a lot of heart. I'm proud of them."
Gulf Coast is now 4-4 headed into MACCC play, which starts Saturday when Northeast Mississippi visits. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.
The Bengals are 11-6.
It was Long's first game in charge after taking over as interim head coach on Saturday. He had guided the program for 18 years when he retired in 2019.
The Bulldogs struck for four runs in their first time to bat under Long. Briana Shores (So., Richland/Richland) got an RBI groundout in her first at-bat after returning from injury, and K.K. Agner (Fr., Horn Lake/Magnolia Heights) followed with an RBI single.
Hannah Herrington (So., Enterprise/Enterprise) knocked Agner in with a two-run homer to left field. It was her first collegiate round-tripper.
LSU-E answered back with two in the bottom of the first and tied in after three.
Rakeya Travis (So., Poplarville/Poplarville) delivered a three-run double to break the tie, then scored on Shores' sacrifice fly.
Katie Mitchell (So., McCool/Kosciusko) gave up six runs in her 5.1 innings of work to pick up the win. Anna Avant (So., Water Valley/Water Valley) gave up a solo homer in the seventh but got a line drive that Caroline Moore (So., Maryville, Tenn./Maryville) turned into a double play from left field by doubling a runner off second.
Herrington and Alexis Laughlin (So., Hurley/East Central) had two hits each, and Camryn Miller (Fr., Waynesboro/Wayne County) had a double.
The Bulldogs got behind 10-0 after three innings in the second game. They scored four runs in the fourth on an RBI double by Shores and a run-scoring single by Kristian Jones (Fr., Southaven/DeSoto Central). Sarah Brannan (So., Enterprise/Enterprise) drove in the final run with a single.
"There's some stuff we've got to get cleaned up, some defensive stuff," Long said. "Obviously, we've got to get our pitching straightened out, but Katie Mitchell did a great job that first game. She really battled."
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