Pearl River Community College

Lady ‘Cats secure post-season berth with sweep over Hinds

            POPLARVILLE — Pearl River Community College secured at least the No. 4 seed in May 2-4's MACJC State Softball Tournament here Saturday with its doubleheader sweep over Hinds in Lady Wildcat Stadium.
            PRCC improved to 23-17 overall and 12-10 in division play with its 8-0 and 2-0 shutout victories and eye one more division twin bill in the regular season against current No. 3 East Central this Saturday.
            ECCC, 15-7 in the division, faces No. 2 Jones County and Pearl River this week to wrap its regular season. A JCJC sweep over East Central in Decatur on Tuesday and a River sweep Saturday would push the Lady Wildcats into a No. 3 finish.
            Through Saturday’s play, Mississippi Gulf Coast tops the South at 18-4 with only Southwest Mississippi (7-13) remaining on its division schedule, while Jones is second at 15-5 with East Central and Copiah-Lincoln (7-13) left.
            The top four finishers in the North and South divisions earn berths in the MACJC State Tournament set for May 2-4 at the home field of the South Division champion.
            In Saturday’s first game, Pearl River scored solo runs in each of the first three innings and the fifth.
            In the bottom of the first, lead off Whitney Waits of Oak Grove High singled to right field and stole second before moving to third off a sacrifice bunt by Megan Scronce of Petal High. Waits then scored off a sac bunt by Emily Jackson out of Theodore High in Mobile, Ala., for the game’s first run before Kelsea Lewis of Oak Grove High grounded out to short to end the inning.
            In the bottom of the second, Heather Boutwell of Oak Grove High drew a one-out walk, stole second, then advanced to third off a single by Brittany LeBlanc out of North Vermillion High in Maurice, La. After LeBlanc stole second, a left center sacrifice fly by Kaci Lantrip of Terry High scored Boutwell to make it 2-0 before Shannon Brown of Petal High flew out to right to end the inning.
            Hinds managed its first two base runners of the contest in the top of the third via a lead off base on balls by Elizabeth Heigle and Staci Johnson single, but Pearl River added its third run in the bottom of the frame.
            Lead off batter Waits was belted by a pitch and stole second base before Scronce walked. Jackson followed with an RBI double to center field to make it 3-0 before Lady Eagle pitcher Katie Foster retired Lewis and Courtney Warr, another Theodore (Ala.) High recruit, with ground outs to third to end the inning.
            Chasity Hearn cracked a one-out single for Hinds in the top of the fourth, while the Lady Wildcats loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning, but couldn’t push a run home.
            Lantrip reached with a two-out single to right field, Brown singled down the third base line, and Waits outran a grounder to the pitcher to load the corners before Scronce grounded out to second to end the inning.
            In the top of the fifth, Hinds went three-up, three down for the third time in the game and Pearl River added another solo run in the bottom of the inning.
            Lead off Jackson walked, Lewis followed with an up-the-middle base hit, and Boutwell followed with an RBI double to center an out later. After LeBlanc walked to load the bases, Lantrip and Brown hit into force outs to end the inning.
            Raven Fisher led off with a base hit for the Lady Eagles in the top of the sixth before getting nailed at second on an attempted steal, then Claire Richardson walked, moved to second off Megan Goss’ ground out, but was left stranded when Hearn flew to center for the final out.
            Foster briefly exited the mound to start the bottom of the frame for Cassandra Brown, but quickly returned when Brown walked the only three batters she faced.
            With the bases loaded, Lewis belted an RBI single before Warr pushed a sixth run home when she reached on the Lady Eagles’ only error in the game. Boutwell’s RBI single to center made it 7-0, then LeBlanc’s bases-loaded walk ended the game via the eight-run rule.
            LeBlanc (10-8) picked up the win in going the distance, giving up three hits, striking out five, and walking two.
            Foster (2-5) got the loss in her five innings on the mound, giving up 10 hits, walking four, and hitting two batters; while Brown walked all three batters she faced.
            Fisher, Hearn, and Johnson all singled for Hinds; while Lewis and Waits paced The River’s 10-hit attack with two singles each. Boutwell (two RBIs) and Jackson (two RBIs) both doubled, while Brown, Lantrip (two RBIs), and LeBlanc (one RBI) had base hits. Warr also had an RBI for PRCC.
            The Lady Wildcats played error-free in the contest.
            In the nightcap game, things were scoreless for the first three-and-a-half inning; but Pearl River scored the game’s only two runs in the bottom of the third.
            Neely McCrary of Petal High led off the frame with a single before Brown reached on a fielder’s choice an out later. After Brown stole second, Waits and Scronce drew back-to-back walks to load the bases and Jackson followed with a two-run single.
            From that point, Hinds managed four bases runners and Pearl River two.
            Starter McCrary (10-7) got the win in going the distance, giving up three hits, striking out four, and walking three; while starter Megan Eaves (0-5) got the loss. She also pitched the distance, giving up four hits, striking out four, and walking two.
            Katelyn Hegwood, Johnson, and Claire Richardson all singled for the Lady Eagles; while Boutwell, Jackson (two RBIs), Scronce, and Waits had base hits for the Lady Wildcats.
            Both squads committed to errors each in the game.
            Pearl River swept Hinds in an earlier doubleheader played March 21 in Raymond with 17-3 (six innings) and 13-0 (five innings) victories.
            The Lady Wildcats return to action Tuesday when No. 1-ranked LSU-Eunice visits for a 2 p.m. doubleheader before East Central visits Saturday for a 12 noon twin bill to wrap the regular season.