The Lady Bobcats get the cheers going in the dugout during a game at the MACJC tourney. (Photo, jucoweekly.org)

Lady ’Cats headed back to national tourney

For the second straight season and the fifth time in six years, the Jones County Junior College Lady Bobcats are headed back to the NJCAA Division II National Softball Tournament.

The top-ranked Lady Bobcats defeated No. 7 Mississippi Gulf Coast 13-3 Thursday afternoon at Community Bank Park in a Region 23 Tournament winners’ bracket game.

JCJC, 49-2, was scheduled to face No. 4 LSU-Eunice, 48-11, on Friday for the region title. However, due to pending stormy weather the JCJC and LSUE coaches met Thursday night and decided not to play the championship game. With rain expected for Friday, and since both teams have already qualified for the national tourney, they felt it was in both of their best interests to not play today (Saturday) and prepare for the national tournament instead.

JCJC, currently ranked No. 1 in the country, is expected to be the top overall seed at the national tourney and LSUE will likely be a No. 2, 3 or 4 seed.

LSU-Eunice eliminated No. 6 Itawamba 5-1 in a losers’ bracket game on Friday. Then the Lady Bengals scored eight runs in the top of the sixth inning and eliminated No. 7 Mississippi Gulf Coast, 8-0 in six innings.

The 2017 NJCAA Division II National Championship softball tournament is scheduled for Wednesday through Saturday at Traceway Park in Clinton.

Tickets for the event are $12 per day or a four-day tournament pass can be purchased for $35. Groups of 10 or more receive a group discount rate of $10 per ticket.

Last year, after starting 3-0 in the tourney, the No. 3-seeded Lady Bobcats fell to LSUE in their first matchup. However, JCJC bounced back and made it to the championship round and knocked off previously unbeaten LSUE 9-0 to force a decisive winner-take-all championship game.

In the title game, LSUE won the national title 12-4 over the Lady Bobcats.

LSUE will be looking to claim its fifth national title in the past seven seasons while the Lady Bobcats will be looking to win the school’s first.