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NEL wins thriller over West

By By Brian Craig Robinson/special to The Star
August 24, 2002
Another softball rivalry is brewing in Lauderdale County.
Northeast Lauderdale scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie county rival West Lauderdale, and then won the game 4-3 on an RBI triple by Grace Ann Watkins in the bottom of the eighth.
The win avenged Northeast's 7-1 loss to the Lady Knights earlier this season. Both teams will return to the Northeast Softball Complex today to take part in the nine-team Meridian Invitational Tournament. They are not scheduled to play each other in the pool-play event.
But they did hook up on Friday night, in a game that could be termed a classic.
West Lauderdale, now 3-1 on the year, jumped out to a 3-1 lead, but the homestanding Lady Trojans rallied late.
After the Lady Knights went down quietly in the top of the sixth, Northeast sent the top of the order to the plate in the bottom of the frame. Watkins ignited her team and the crowd, who had been quiet most of the game, with a lead-off single. Laura Webb promptly followed with a seeing-eye single to right to put runners on first and second with no outs.
Raleigh Odom followed with an RBI single to pull the homestanding Trojans closer at 3-2. After a fielder's choice, which moved a runner to third, Janet Olzcak stood poised to pull the Northeast squad closer and did just that with a sacrifice fly to right to tie the score.
With both teams feeling the pressure, the defense took over for the next inning and a half with NEL pitcher Blair Rawson settling down to shut West Lauderdale down.
Then came the bottom of the eighth. Danielle McCoy led off with a single, setting the table for Watkins, the lead-off hitter. Watkins wasted no time in giving the home team a reason to celebrate, lining a triple to the outfield wall, easily scoring the speedy McCoy.
After Northeast took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Amber Gray, the Lady Knights scored a single run in the second and two in the third to build its 3-1 lead.