Pearl River wallops Itawamba 15-0 in five in opening round of MACJC Softball Tournament

            PERKINSTON — Brittany LeBlanc pitched a one-hit shutout to propel Pearl River’s Lady Wildcats to a lopsided 15-0 (five innings) softball victory over Itawamba here Sunday in opening-round action of the MACJC State Tournament underway at Mississippi Gulf Coast CC.
            The Lady Wildcats, the South Division No. 4 seed, will now face South No. 2 and eighth-ranked Jones County, a 7-1 winner over North No. 3 Holmes to open Sunday’s tournament play, at 12 noon Monday. The winner of that contest will earn a berth in the state championship bout at 5 p.m.
            Other first-round games saw South No. 3 East Central defeat North No. 2 East Mississippi 6-3, while South No. 1 and seventh-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast demolished North No. 4 Northeast Mississippi 9-0. Those two winners face off at 2 p.m. Monday to decide the other title bout berth.
            Pearl River opened its game with an offensive onslaught that resulted four runs in the top of the first inning.
            Megan Scronce of Petal High and Emily Jackson out of Theodore High in Mobile, Ala., reached via back-to-back, one-out walks; then Kelsea Lewis of Oak Grove High loaded the bases when she reached on an error. Courtney Warr, another Theodore (Ala.) High recruit, followed with a two-run single to center field.
            After Heather Boutwell of Oak Grove High was hit by a pitch from starter Rebecca Sloan to reload the bases, Brittany LeBlanc out of North Vermillion High in Maurice, La., reached on a fielder’s choice and Kaci Lantrip of Terry High smacked a two-run double to left to make it 4-0 before Sabrina Brown of Petal High struck out.
            ICC went three up, three down in the bottom of the frame and it appeared the Lady Wildcats would pad their lead in the top of the second.
            Whitney Waits of Oak Grove High led off with a bloop single to left field and Jackson walked a strikeout later. Lewis’ single to center loaded the bases, but Warr hit into a double play for the final outs.
            PRCC starter LeBlanc retired the side in the bottom of the inning, while Sloan followed suit in the top of the third. In the bottom of the frame, Lauren Lewis cracked a one-out single for Itawamba’s only base hit of the game before LeBlanc retired two straight to end the inning.
            The Lady Indians’ demise came in the fourth off the Lady Wildcats’ seven-run barrage. Waits cranked things up when she outran a one-out bunt for a base hit in the top of the fourth, while Scronce was belted by a pitch. That prompted the mound exit of Sloan for Montana Hawkins who immediately saw the runners advance on a wild pitch before Jackson crushed a two-run double to the left center field fence to make it 6-0.
            Hawkins then walked Lewis and Warr to load the corners and Boutwell reached on a fielder’s choice to set the stage for LeBlanc’s two-run single to center for PRCC’s eighth run. Dani Taylor relieved Hawkins at that point and she immediately gave up a three-run homer to Lantrip over the left field wall to make it 11-0 before Brown flew to right for the final out.
            In the bottom of the frame, lead off Jesse Patterson reached on The River’s only error of the afternoon. Kory Watterson then hit into a double play before Emilee Henderson grounded out to third to end the inning.
            Four more runs came Pearl River’s way in the fifth. Scronce smacked a one-out double to center, Jackson walked, and Lewis was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Warr followed with a two-run single, winding up at second when a third-run scored. After Boutwell grounded out to third, LeBlanc belted an up-the-middle RBI base hit to make it 15-0. Lantrip and Brown followed with walks to reload the bases before Waits reached on a fielder’s choice for the final out.
            ICC then went three up, three down to end the game via the 10-run rule.
            LeBlanc (11-8) got the win in going the five-inning distance, striking out four and walking one; while ICC starter Rebecca Sloan (14-5) got the loss in her three-and-a-third innings, giving up five hits, striking out four, walking three, and hitting a batter. Hawkins faced five batters in the fourth, giving up two hits; while Taylor pitched the final one-and-a-third, giving up four hits, walking three, and hitting a batter.
            Lantrip paced the Lady Wildcats’ 11-hit attack with a five-RBI effort via a home run and a double, Warr (four RBIs), LeBlanc (three RBIs), and Waits had two base hits each. Jackson (two RBIs) and Scronce both doubled, while Lewis singled.
            Pearl River’s victory also ensured the Lady Wildcats of a berth in May 9-11's Region 23 Tournament at Traceway Park in Clinton. PRCC improved to 25-20 overall, while ICC dropped to 31-13.

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