The difference between a Jones College win and loss was just a matter of inches at Choccolocco Park Saturday afternoon.
Needing one out in the seventh to force a winner-take-all game in the NJCAA Division II Softball National Championship, Phoenix got a two-out bloop single off the chalk in left and an RBI-single to take its first lead and steal a 3-2 win in gut-wrenching fashion.
Phoenix closed the season on a 42-game winning streak to finish 44-1. Jones finished the year 47-9.
Jones took the lead in the first and led for 5.2 innings before a Bear rally started on a one-out hit-by-pitch in the top of the seventh.
With the Bobcats leading 2-0, back-to-back singles loaded the bases for Phoenix. After a lineout at second, Caroline Chilton blooped a single just over the head of Tyesha Cole (Philadelphia) at third and on the line to tie the game. A batter later, Jocellyn LaFlesch singled to left to plate the go-ahead run.
Jones got the tying run to second on Cole's two-out double to center, missing a game-tying home run by inches. A walk put the winning run on before a fielder's choice to short ended the game.
Nia Luckett (Philadelphia), 17-6, tossed 6.1 frames, scattering eight hits, three runs and four strikeouts before making way to Sterling James (DeSoto Central) to get the final two outs in the seventh.
Brianna Hardy allowed two runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts to improve to 32-0.
Cole, Lindsey and Sydney Pevey (Lawrence County) each had multiple hits.
Jones finished as national runner-up for the fourth time in seven seasons (2021, 2017, 2016, 2014). The program's first national title came in 2018 over Phoenix.