Photo: With her Game 1 victory and six strikeouts issued, Northwest sophomore Gabby Dickerson (pictured) became the program’s new career strikeout leader, eclipsing 300 career punchouts. (Brian Lentz/nwccrangers.com)
Credit: Northwest CC Sports Information
History was made once again by Northwest softball in Wednesday’s home sweep of Holmes.
Sophomore ace Gabby Dickerson collected her ninth victory of the season in the Rangers’ 3-1 Game 1 win, earning six strikeouts and her fourth complete game. More importantly however, the Olive Branch native and former Lewisburg Lady Patriot also eclipsed the 300-strikeout mark, setting the new program record for career strikeouts.
Dickerson, who had already shattered the single-season strikeout record last season with 239, now has 304 punchouts to her credit, becoming only the second Northwest pitcher to attain 300 career strikeouts. The career strikeout record was previously held by Northwest Sports Hall of Famer Lacie McCulley-Cook (2005-06).
Dickerson’s name is already scattered throughout the Northwest record books in several other pitching categories. The Christian Brothers University commit remains tied with McCulley-Cook for most appearances in a single season (40) and holds the record for most victories in a single season (26-9), both set last season. Her 203.1 innings pitched from 2022 are also atop the single-season records, while her 35 career wins remain second all-time.
Though Northwest struggled at the plate in both games, the pitching efforts of Dickerson and Neely Cooper helped lift the Rangers to the sweep, improving to 20-2 on the season and 9-1 in the MACCC. With the losses, Holmes dropped to 17-13 on the season and 5-7 in conference play.
Next up for No. 3 Northwest is a Saturday doubleheader at Hinds, scheduled for 2/4 P.M. on April 1. Admission to the games in Raymond are free with the donation of select items for tornado victims in Mississippi. Those items include cases of water, diapers, canned food items and personal hygiene items.
Both games of Saturday’s road twinbill at Hinds can be seen live on www.hindsccsports.net.
Game 1 – #3 Northwest 3, Holmes 1
A pitching duel between Dickerson and Holmes’ Elleigh Willis went in favor of the Rangers, as Northwest edged the Bulldogs by a 3-1 final.
Northwest collected two of its three runs in the bottom of the first, as back-to-back singles from Kaylee Owens and McKaylee “K.K.” Polk put the Rangers in scoring position. With two outs, Cooper delivered a shallow single to left field, allowing both runners to score.
After a quiet second inning by both teams, Holmes responded with a double from Lanie Phillips for the Bulldogs’ second base hit. That was followed by a single from Willis and an RBI-single to right field from Iris Farve, which scored Phillips from third, slicing the Rangers’ lead in half.
Northwest gained a run back in the home half of the third, thanks in part to back-to-back leadoff walks from Willis. With Owens and Reese Vanlandingham on base, Polk brought in a run with an RBI-single up the middle, pushing the Rangers’ lead to 3-1.
Both teams would struggle at the plate after that, except for an eventful fifth inning. Holmes managed to load the bases with two outs in the top frame, but Dickerson forced Leah Kinard into a lineout to left field to end the threat. In turn, Northwest left two stranded in the bottom half of the inning, despite a walk to Madeline Houk and a single from Vanlandingham.
Dickerson (9-0) closed out the game by retiring the Bulldogs in the sixth and seventh innings, sealing the opening victory.
Northwest and Holmes finished with five base hits apiece, with Polk leading the charge in a 2-for-3 effort. Phillips and Willis combined for four of the Bulldogs’ five base hits in the loss.
In the circle, Willis dropped to 5-4 on the season, tossing three strikeouts against three walks, three earned runs and five base hits in six full innings of work.
Game 2 – #3 Northwest 4, Holmes 2
Trailing 2-0 entering the bottom of the fourth, Northwest woke up the bats in a big way, as the Rangers homered twice to take the 4-2 win in the finale.
Holmes struck first, thanks to an infield error and a bases loaded walk in the top half of the first inning. Emmagail Kelley also kept the Rangers without a base hit through nearly three complete innings of work, helping the Bulldogs remain on top.
Though the fourth inning provided the momentum shift for the Rangers, it was catcher Crista Wilson that got the bats going. With two outs in the bottom of the third, Wilson brought Northwest its first base hit of the game on a single. Although Northwest was unable to turn that into a run, the base hit set the tone for what would occur in the fourth inning.
After Phillips’ singled to make it a 2-0 Holmes lead in the top of the fourth, Owens led off the bottom of the inning with a solo homer to center, her fifth bomb of the season. That was followed by a single from Polk and Kara Johnson reaching on a fielder’s choice, which later resulted in Johnson stealing second.
With two outs in the inning, Cooper delivered in a big way, smashing a two-run homer to center to put Northwest ahead for good. The Rangers also left three on base following the homer, as Kelley was able to limit the damage for Holmes.
Cooper also came up clutch in the circle, sending the Bulldogs down in order in the top of the fifth. Later, the Rangers provided another run with two outs, scoring on Cooper’s RBI-single to left field in the bottom of the inning.
Though the Bulldogs were able to get a leadoff single in the sixth, Cooper struck out a pair to keep the Bulldogs off the board. Holmes would also get a double in the seventh and put the tying run on base with a hit-by-pitch, but the Rangers ended the game with Kinard’s grounder to Polk, preserving the sweep.
Northwest finished the game with seven base hits, six of those occurring over the final three frames. Cooper (4-1) went 2-for-3 with her home run and three RBIs, while also picking up the win in the circle, tossing 3.1 innings of relief with five strikeouts and no walks or runs surrendered.
Farve led Holmes with a 2-for-3 effort at the plate, as the Bulldogs collected six base hits. Kelley was handed the loss after allowing three runs in four innings of work, dropping to 6-6 on the season. Neera Bell tossed the final two innings, allowing one runs with two walks and a strikeout.