River splits with East Central in regular-season finale

            POPLARVILLE — Pearl River’s Lady Wildcats split with East Central’s Lady Warriors in MACJC South Division softball action here Saturday to wrap the regular season for both teams.
            Heading into the doubleheader, PRCC and ECCC had already copped berths in the MACJC State Tournament set for Mississippi Gulf Coast in Perkinston next Thursday and Friday, but the split ensured the Lady Warriors of the South’s third-place seed. The Lady Wildcats enter the event as the fourth seed behind South champ MGCCC and second-place Jones County.
            Pearl River ended its regular season at 24-20 overall and 13-11 in division play, while East Central wrapped at 20-14 and 14-10.
            The Lady Wildcats’ and Lady Warriors’ quarterfinal opponents on Thursday at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively, have yet to be decided. East Mississippi and Itawamba will do battle at 3 p.m. Monday in Fulton to decide the North Division’s first and second-place finishes. That twin bill was originally scheduled for Saturday, but was rescheduled until Monday due to wet field conditions.
            Holmes has secured the North’s third seed, while Northeast Mississippi is fourth.
            In the first game of the PRCC-ECCC doubleheader, the Lady Wildcats went up 2-0 in the bottom of the first when Whitney Waits of Oak Grove High led off with a walk, stole second an out later, and scored off a single by Kelsea Lewis of Oak Grove High. After Lewis’ courtesy runner Micah Davis of Poplarville High stole second base, she scored when Courtney Warr out of Theodore High in Mobile, Ala., doubled via an error before Heather Boutwell of Oak Grove High grounded out to first to end the inning.
            After a scoreless second, Pearl River padded its lead with four runs in the bottom of the third. Emily Jackson, another Theodore (Ala.) High recruit, led off with a single, then Lewis reached on a fielder’s choice with Jackson sliding safely into second. Warr’s ensuing base hit to left field loaded the bases.
            After Boutwell popped out, Brittany LeBlanc out of North Vermillion High in Maurice, La., drove in Jackson when she reached on a fielder’s choice with courtesy runner Davis and Warr scoring an out later when Shannon Brown of Petal High reached on a fielder’s choice to make it 6-0. Waits then grounded out to first to end the inning.
            The Lady Warriors scored their only run of the game in the top of the fourth when Ty Buckley and Amber McBroom led off with singles only to see Haley Stephens hit into a double play. But Dakota Vowell followed with an up-the-middle single, Kristen Chipley walked to load the bases, and Lindsey Beard belted an RBI single with courtesy runner Kaylin Hopkins getting nailed at home on the play for the final out.
            From there on out, Pearl River managed only one base runner (a double by Lewis in the fourth) and East Central four via two hits, a hit batter, and a fielder’s choice.
            Starting pitcher LeBlanc (11-9) got the win in going the distance, giving up six hits, striking out eight, walking one, and hitting two batters; while ECCC starter Tenna Patterson (14-10) got the loss. She also pitched the distance, giving up seven hits, striking out one, and walking one.
            Beard (one RBI), Buckley, Casey Cherry, Marlee Massey, McBroom, and Vowell all singled for the Lady Warriors; while Lewis paced The River at the plate with a double and a single (one RBI). Warr had two base hits (one RBI), while Jackson, Kaci Lantrip of Terry High, and LeBlanc (one RBI) all had singled. Brown had an RBI for the Lady Wildcats.
            PRCC committed one error in the game to ECCC’s two.
            In the nightcap, the Lady Warriors went up 2-0 in the top of the opening inning when Massey led off with a single, Lajoya Griffin reached on the first of four River errors, and Buckley walked to load the bases. McBroom followed with a two-run single before Lady Wildcat starter Neely McCrary of Petal High retired three straight for the final outs.
            Pearl River cut the lead to one in the bottom of the frame when Waits led off with a walk, moved to second off a sac bunt by Megan Scronce of Petal High, and scored an out later off Lewis’ double to right field. Warr ended the inning with a ground out to short.
            After a scoreless second, the Lady Warriors added a solo run in the top of the third. Griffin led off with a line-drive single to right, stole second and moved to third on a passed ball before Buckley walked. Griffin scored when McBroom reached on a fielder’s choice. Vowell then lined a single to left before A.J. Peeler hit into a double play for the final outs.
            East Central left runners stranded at second and third, while Pearl River left runners at first and second in the fourth before the Lady Warriors added a fourth run in the top of the fifth.
            Buckley led off with a single to left field and McBroom reached on a fielder’s choice before Vowell cracked a bloop single to left. McBroom scored when Peeler crushed a double to make it 4-1. After Haley Stephens popped out to second, Morgan Porter walked before McCrary K’d Beard for the final out.
            ECCC scored the game’s final run in the top of the sixth when Griffin smacked a one-out double to left center, Buckley singled to left, and Griffin scored off McBroom’s base hit.
            Starter Mary Sanders (12-4) got the win in going the distance, giving up four hits, striking out three, and walking two; while McCrary (10-9) got the loss. She also went the distance, giving up 10 hits, striking out one, and walking three.
            Buckley and Griffin both doubled and singled to lead East Central at the plate, while Vowell had two base hits, Peeler doubled (one RBI) and Beard, Massey, and McBroom (four RBIs) all had singles.
            Besides Lewis’ RBI double, Brown, Lantrip, and McCrary singled for the Lady Wildcats.
            East Central committed only one error in the game.
            The Lady Wildcats and Lady Warriors split an earlier doubleheader played April 15 in Decatur. PRCC won the first game 8-6, while ECCC was a 5-0 winner in the nightcap.

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