Lady Wildcats go three-and-out at MACJC Softball Tournament

FULTON --- Pearl River’s Lady Wildcats went three-and-out at the MACJC State Softball Tournament played here at Itawamba Community College.
The River plummeted into the losers’ bracket with an opening 9-0 (five innings) setback to second-ranked Jones County on Friday before rebounding with a 5-0 shutout to eliminate host ICC on Saturday to clinch a berth in May 8-10’s Region 23 Tournament at JCJC in Ellisville, but was eliminated immediately afterwards with a hard-fought 4-3 loss to Mississippi Gulf Coast.
JCJC defeated MGCCC 7-1 in Sunday’s title bout for the MACJC championship.
            In the Lady Wildcats’ third game of the tournament, things looked bright for PRCC when it went up 2-0 over Gulf Coast in the first inning when Emily Jackson of Theodore (Ala.) High cracked a two-out single and Kelsea Lewis of Oak Grove High followed by smashing a two-run homer over the center field wall. Ashley Hawkins of Theodore (Ala.) High grounded to short for the final out.
            That lead remained intact until the bottom of the third when the Lady Bulldogs tied it up. Jamie Desporte led off with a single to center, moved to second off Cat Campbell’s sac bunt, but was nailed in a rundown after Ashley Hickman singled. Hickman stole second, setting the stage for Dani Craft’s two-run homer to knot things at 2-2 before Emily David grounded out to second to end the inning.
            Pearl River left runners at second and third in the top of the fifth, but Gulf Coast added a go-ahead run in the bottom of the frame when Brooke Gaston led off with a home run. PRCC starter Hawkins exited the mound at that point for her former prep teammate Courtney Warr, who immediately struck out Britney Butler and gave up a single to Brooke Ladner before Cocoa Bender reached on a fielder’s choice. Bender was thrown out on an attempted steal to end the inning.
            The resilient Lady Wildcats answered with a game-tying run in the top of the fifth when Heather Boutwell of Oak Grove High smacked a one-out single to right and scored off Jackson’s ensuing double, but was tagged out in a rundown between second and third before Lewis grounded out to the pitcher.
            In the bottom of the inning, Warr gave up a lead off single Desporte before walking two straight to load the corners, prompting her mound exit for Rachel Hickman of Poplarville High. Craft outran an infield grounder for a base hit for the game-winning run before retiring two straight to end the inning.
            After a scoreless fourth, Pearl River managed a base runner when Megan Scronce of Petal High drew a two-out walk, but Boutwell flew out to right to end the game.
            Gulf Coast starter Emily Davis (9-5) got the loss in going the distance, giving up eight hits and recording a strikeout and a walk, while Warr (3-3) got the loss in her one-and-a-third innings of relief work, giving up a hit, striking out one, and walking two. Hawkins went three frames, giving up three hits and recording a strikeout, while Hickman pitched the final one-and-two-thirds, giving up a hit.
            Jackson paced PRCC’s eight-hit effort with a double and a single (one RBI), while Kaci Lantrip of Terry High cracked two base hits, Lewis homered (two RBIs), and Boutwell, Hannah Holloway of Petal High, and Scronce all singled.
            MGCCC finished with five hits, led by Craft’s homer and single (two RBIs), while Gaston homered (one RBI), and Desporte and Ladner both had base hits. Davis also had an RBI for the Lady Bulldogs.
            Pearl River committed two errors in the game to Gulf Coast’s none.
            The two teams split twice during the regular season with MGCCC taking a 1-0 win March 12 in Perkinston before falling 4-1 in the nightcap game, while PRCC won 3-2 April 9 in Poplarville before falling 9-2 in the second game.
            The River eliminated host Itawamba in its first game Saturday.
            After a scoreless first inning, the Lady Wildcats went up 1-0 in the bottom of the second when leadoff Hickman was belted by a pitch, moved to second off Holloway’s ground out to the pitcher, and scored of Lantrip’s double. Lantrip moved to third on a passed ball before Allie Flint of Madison Central High walked, Scronce reached on a fielder’s choice, and Boutwell popped out.
            ICC loaded the bases in the top of the second off a lead off single by Autumn Bonner and a Haley Moore walk two outs later before Kory Watterson was hit by a pitch. Cara Hopper grounded to third for the final out.
            In the bottom of the frame, Lewis had a one-out single to left before Hickman smashed a two-run homer over the center field fence an out later to put The River up 3-0. Holloway followed with an up-the-middle base hit before Lantrip fouled out to end the inning.
            The Lady Indians went three up, three down in the top of the fourth, but the Lady Wildcats padded its lead with a two runs in the bottom of the frame. Flint led off with a single and scored off Scronce’s ensuing triple to left field. ICC starter Montana Hawkins left the mound for Cara Hopper at that point and Scronce scored the game’s final run off a wild pitch to make it 5-0 before Hopper retired three straight to end the inning.
            Itawamba put two runners on in the fifth, before Catherine Carver hit into a double play for the final outs, while Pearl River left one runner stranded at second in the bottom of the frame.
            ICC managed a base runner in the sixth via a walk, while the Lady Wildcats went three up, three down in the bottom of the inning and the Lady Indians followed suit in the seventh to end the game.
            Hickman (20-9) got the win in going the distance, giving up four hits, striking out four, walking two, and hitting a batter, while Hawkins (12-5) got the loss in her three innings on the mound, giving up six hits, walking three, and hitting two batters. Hopper pitched the final three no-hit innings and hit one batter.
            Itawamba finished with four hits, led by Bonner’s two singles, while Haley Moore and Watterson both had base hits.
            Hickman paced Pearl River’s six-hit effort with a homer (two RBIs), while Scronce tripled (one RBI), Lantrip doubled (one RBI), and Flint, Holloway, and Lewis all had singles.
            Both teams played error-free.
            Pearl River immediately fell into the loser’s bracket with a 9-0 (five innings) blow out loss to Jones County in its first game of the tournament on Friday.
Lady Bobcat starter Samantha Buller (24-1) hurled a one-hitter en route to picking up the win and retired three straight River batters to open the game.
In the bottom of the first, PRCC starter Hickman struck out the first batter she faced, but belted Kimberly Nilsson with a pitch before Tori Dew doubled to left center. With runners at second and third, Lauren Holifield struck out, but Brittany Seale followed with a two-run single to center. After Makenzie Hawkins walked, the runners advanced off a passed ball before Hickman K’d Bailey Stokes to end the inning.
After a scoreless second, PRCC lead off Lantrip reached on an error in the third, moved to second off a sac bunt by Flint before Buller retired two straight.
In the bottom of the frame, Seale drew a one-out walk, Hawkins reached on a fielder’s choice, and Stokes singled, setting the stage for Reagan Gavin’s three-run over the left center field fence to make it 5-0 before Savannah Lyon grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.
After the Lady Wildcats went three up, three down in the fourth, Hickman walked lead off C.C. Lawn before Nilsson’s RBI double made it 6-0. After Dew singled, Hickman exited the mound for Hawkins who immediately gave up an RBI single to Holifield and Seale duplicated the feat for an eighth run. An out later, Stokes walked to load the bases, setting the stage for Gavin’s RBI single. Hawkins then walked Savannah Lyon to reload the corners before Lawn grounded out to short to end the inning.
In the fifth, lead off Hawkins singled for PRCC’s only hit of the contest. An out later, Lantrip walked, Flint popped out, and Scronce hit into a force out to end the game via the eight-run rule.
Buller also recorded a strike out and a walk, while Hickman (19-9) got the loss in her three innings of work, giving up seven hits, striking out three, walking three, and hitting a batter. Hawkins gave up two hits and walked two.
Dew and Nilsson (one RBI) both doubled and singled to pace the Lady Bobcats’ nine-hit attack, while Seale had two base hits (three RBIs), Gavin homered (four RBIs), and Holifield (one RBI) and Stokes both singled.
JCJC committed two errors in the game to PRCC’s one.
The Lady Bobcats swept the Lady Wildcats twice during the regular season with 7-2 and 11-1 (five innings) March 19 in Poplarville and 6-5 and 9-1 (five innings) in Ellisville.
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May 2-4 / Itawamba Community College / Fulton, MS
Saturday, May 4
Pearl River          (27-18)   200   010    0  --  3     8     2
Miss. Gulf Coast  (34-18)  002   110    X  --  4     5     0
WP: Emily Davis (9-5), starter, distance, 8 hits, 1 K, 1 BB.
Also Pitching: None.
Catcher: Dani Craft.
LP: Courtney Warr (3-3), relieved in 4th, 1.1 innings, 1 hit, 1 K, 2 BB.
Also Pitching: Ashley Hawkins, starter, 3 innings, 3 hits, 1 K; Rachel Hickman (5), 1.2 innings, 1 hit.
Catcher: Brooke Roberts.
Pearl River: Emily Jackson 2B, 1B (RBI); Kaci Lantrip 2-1B, Kelsea Lewis HR (2 RBI), Heather Boutwell 1B, Hannah Holloway 1B, Megan Scronce 1B.
Miss. Gulf Coast: Dani Craft HR, 1B (2 RBI); Brooke Gaston HR (RBI), Jamie Desporte 1B, Brooke Ladner 1B. Emily Davis RBI.
NOTE: PRCC is eliminated from the tournament, but earned a berth in next week’s Region 23 Tournament with its win over ICC.
UP NEXT: Mississippi Gulf Coast takes on Jones County Sunday at 1 p.m. in the MACJC title bout. If a second game is needed, it will be played at 3 p.m.
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Saturday, May 4
Itawamba     (37-13)   000   000    0  --  0     4     0
Pearl River   (27-17   012   200    X  --  5     6     0
WP: Rachel Hickman (20-9), starter, distance, 4 hits, 4 K, 2 BB, 1 HBP.
Also Pitching: None.
Catcher: Kelsea Lewis.
LP: Montanna Hawkins (12-5), distance, 6 hits, 3 BB, 2 HBP.
Also Pitching: None.
Catcher: Autumn Bonner.
Itawamba: Autumn Bonner 2-1B, Haley Moore 1B, Kory Watterson 1B.
Pearl River: Rachel Hickman HR (2 RBI), Megan Scronce 3B (RBI), Kaci Lantrip 2B (RBI), Allie Flint 1B, Hannah Holloway 1B, Kelsea Lewis 1B.
NOTE: ICC is eliminated from the tournament and ends its season.
UP NEXT: PRCC faces Mississippi Gulf Coast, 4-1 losers to second-ranked Jones County to open Saturday’s action, immediately following its ICC victory.
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Friday, May 2
Pearl River     (26-17)   000   00X    X  --  0     1     1
Jones County (44-2)     203   4XX    X  --  9     9     2
WP: Samantha Buller (24-1), starter, distance, 1 hit, 1 K, 1 BB.
Also Pitching: None.
Catcher: Bailey Stokes.
LP: Rachel Hickman (19-9), starter, 3 innings, 7 hits, 3 K, 3 BB, 1 HBP.
Also Pitching: Ashley Hawkins (4), 1 inning, 2 hits, 2 BB.
Catcher: Kelsea Lewis.
Pearl River: Ashley Hawkins.
Jones County: Tori Dew 2B, 1B; Kimberly Nilsson 2B, 1B (RBI); Brittany Seale 2-1B (3 RBI), Reagan Gavin HR (4 RBI), Lauren Holifield 1B (RBI), Bailey Stokes 1B.
NOTE: JCJC is the MACJC South Division champions and ranked No. 2 in the latest NJCAA Division II softball poll.
UP NEXT: JCJC will race Mississippi Gulf Coast, 8-2 winners over North champ Itawamba in Friday’s opening game, at 1 p.m. Saturday, while PRCC will face ICC at 3 p.m. in an elimination contest. The winner of the PRCC-ICC game will play the loser of the JCJC-MGCCC match up in an elimination game at 5 p.m. The MACJC title bout is set for 1 p.m. Sunday. If a seventh game is needed, it will start at 3 p.m.

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