River sweeps East Central in regular season finale

            POPLARVILLE --- Pearl River Community College clinched a post-season playoff berth with a 4-3, 7-3 MACJC South Division softball sweep over East Central here Tuesday in Lady Wildcat Stadium to wrap the regular season for both squads.
            With the wins, PRCC clinched the No. 3 spot in the South and will now travel to North No. 2 Northwest Mississippi in Senatobia Friday and Saturday for a best-of-three series to decide one of four berths in the MACJC State Tournament set for May 2-4.
The Lady Wildcats wrapped their regular season at 24-16 overall and 18-10 in division play, while the Lady Warriors are now 32-14 and 17-11. While PRCC is at Senatobia, North No. 1 Itawamba will host South No. 4 East Central in a best-of-three this weekend in Fulton.
            River pitcher Rachel Hickman (16-8) picked up both wins for the Lady Wildcats, starting the first game and going the distance, while relieving in the third inning of the nightcap.
            In the first game, the first two innings were scoreless, but each team scored solo runs in the third. In the top of the frame, lead off Kaylin Hopkins outran a bunt for a base hit and moved to second on Anna Katherine Nowell’s sacrifice bunt. After Mallory Turner walked, Ty Buckley smashed an RBI double before Hickman retired two straight.
            In the bottom of the inning, Megan Scronce of Petal High cracked a one-out single to left, Heather Boutwell of Oak Grove High outran a bunt for a base hits, and Emily Jackson of Theodore (Ala.) High singled to load the bases. Kelsea Lewis of Oak Grove High followed with an RBI base hit to knot things up at 1-1 before Kaci Lantrip of Terry High hit into a double play to end the inning.
            After a scoreless fourth, the Lady Warriors took the lead in the top of the fifth when Nowell led off with a single, moved to second off Turner’s sac bunt, and scored off another Buckley double before Hickman retired two straight.
            But that one-run edge was short lived, as The River answered with two in the bottom of the frame. Allie Flint of Madison Central High led off with a single to left, Boutwell singled an out later, and Flint scored to tie it up on an error. Jackson pushed Boutwell home when she reached on a fielder’s choice to put the Lady Wildcats up 3-2. Jackson was nailed at second when Lewis singled and Lantrip was retired to end the inning.
            Both teams left runners at second and third in the scoreless sixth, but the Lady Warriors tied it up in the top of the seventh when Buckley smacked a one-out single, Lindsey Bears reached on a fielder’s choice and Haley Stephens singled. Beard scored from third off Morgan Porter’s ensuing base hit before courtesy runner Nikki Triplett was nailed at home for the final out.
            PRCC left runners at first and third in the bottom of the frame and things went into an extra inning.
            In the top of the eighth, ECCC’s Porter was perched at second before Hickman retired three straight, while in the bottom of the inning, Hickman was The River’s runner at second and moved to third off a lead off sacrifice bunt by Courtney Warr of Theodore (Ala.) High. An out later, Flint pushed Hickman home for the game-winning run with a single to right center.
            Hickman was the winning pitcher, giving up 11 hits, striking out four, and walking one, while Kendra Wilson (14-5) got the loss. She also went the distance, giving up 10 hits and walking three.
            Buckley paced the Lady Warriors at the plate with three singled (two RBIs), while Hopkins and Porter (one RBI) had two base hits each. Karoline Holsonback, Nowell, Stephens, and Turner all singled.
            Boutwell’s three singles led the Lady Wildcats,, while Flint (one RBI), Jackson (one RBI), and Lewis (one RBI) had two base hits each and Scronce singled.
            ECCC committed two errors in the game to PRCC’s one.
            In the nightcap game, East Central left runners at first and second in the top of the opening frame, while Pearl River went up 1-0 in the bottom of the inning when Scronce led off with a base hit to right and scored two outs later off Lewis’ double down the left field line before Warr flew out to left.
            In the bottom of the second, the Lady Wildcats blew it open with five runs. Lead off Hickman was hit by a pitch, then Hannah Holloway of Petal High and Flint loaded the bases with back-to-back base hits. ECCC starter Makayla Kelly was relieved by Wilson at that point and she immediately walked Scronce to push in a second run before Boutwell smashed a two-RBI double to center. After Jackson struck out, Lewis’ two-run single made it 6-0 before Warr popped out to end the inning.
            Lady Wildcat starter Warr gave up back-to-back one-out singles to Turner and Buckley, which prompted her mound exit for Hickman, who retired Beard and gave up a base hit to Stephens to load the bases before striking out Porter.
            Kelly returned to the mound to start the bottom of the frame, giving up a one-out base hit to Lantrip.
            East Central managed a base hit by Hopkins in the top of the fourth, while Pearl River padded its lead to 7-0 when Jackson belted a two-out home run over the center field fence.
            The Lady Warriors scored a solo run in the fifth when Turner led off with a single, moved to second and third off passed balls, and scored off Beard’s ground out an out later before Hickman retired Stephens for the final out.
            After a scoreless sixth, Ashley Hawkins out of Theodore (Ala.) High relieved Hickman to start the seventh and immediately gave up back-to-back singles to Nowell and Turner before Buckley smashed a three-run homer to make it 7-4. After Beard singled to right, Hickman returned to the mound and retired three straight to end the game.
            Hickman got the win in her four-and-two-thirds innings of relief, giving up for hits, striking out two, and walking one, while Warr went two-and-a-third, giving up four hits, striking out two, and walking one. Hawkins faced four batters in the seventh, giving up four hits.
            Kelly (13-7) got the loss in her five-and-a-thirds innings of work, giving up five hits and hitting a batter, while Wilson pitched two-thirds of an inning of relief, giving up two hits, striking out one, and walking one.
            Buckley paced the Lady Warriors’ 12-hit attack with a home run and two singles (three RBIs), while Turner had three singles and Beard (one RBI), Hopkins, Amber McBroom, Nowell, Porter, and Stephens all had base hits.
            PRCC finished with seven hits, led by Lewis’ double and single (three RBIs), while Jackson homered (one RBI), Boutwell doubled (two RBIs), and Flint, Holloway, and Scronce (one RBI) all had base hits.
            Pearl River played error-free, while East Central committed two defensive miscues.
            The two teams split in a previous division doubleheader played March 25 in Decatur with each squad taking an 8-0 victory.
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MACJC South Division Softball Doubleheader
Played Tuesday, April 22, 2014 @ Poplarville, MS
East Central  (32-13, 17-10)   001    010   10  --  3      11       2
Pearl River    (23-16, 17-10)   001    020   01  --  4      10       1
WP: Rachel Hickman (15-8), starter, distance, 11 hits, 4 K, 1 BB.
Also Pitching: None.
Catcher: Kelsea Lewis.
LP: Kendra Wilson (14-5), starter, distance, 10 hits, 3 BB.
Also Pitching: None.
Catcher: Karoline Holsonback.
East Central: Ty Buckley 3-1B (2 RBI), Kaylin Hopkins 2-1B, Morgan Porter 2-1B (RBI), Karoline Holsonback 1B, Anna Katherine Nowell 1B, Hayley Stephens 1B, Mallory Turner 1B.
Pearl River: Heather Boutwell 3-1B, Allie Flint 2-1B (RBI), Emily Jackson 2-1B (RBI), Kelsea Lewis 2-1B (RBI), Megan Scronce 1B.
East Central  (32-14, 17-11)   000    010   3  --  4      12       2
Pearl River    (24-16, 18-10)   150    100   X  --  7        7       0
WP: Rachel Hickman (16-8), relieved in 3rd, 4.2 innings, 4 hits, 2 K, 1 BB.
Also Pitching: Courtney Warr, starter, 2.1 innings, 4 hits, 2 K, 1 BB; Ashley Hawkins (7), faced 4 batters, 4 hits.
Catcher: Kelsea Lewis.
LP: Makayla Kelly (13-7), starter, 5.1 innings, 5 hits, 1 HBP.
Also Pitching: Kendra Wilson (2), .2 inning, 2 hits, 1 K, 1 BB.
Catcher: Karoline Holsonback.
East Central: Ty Buckley HR, 2-1B (3 RBI); Mallory Turner 3-1B, Lindsey Beard 1B (RBI), Kaylin Hopkins 1B, Amber McBroom 1B, Anna Katherine Nowell 1B, Morgan Porter 1B, Hayley Stephens 1B.
Pearl River: Kelsea Lewis 2B, 1B (3 RBI); Emily Jackson HR (RBI), Heather Boutwell 2B (2 RBI), Allie Flint 1B, Hannah Holloway 1B, Megan Scronce 1B (RBI).
NOTE: Pearl River and East Central split in a previous division doubleheader played March 25 in Decatur with each team taking an 8-0 victory. ECCC finished No. 4 in the South Division after the sweep.
UP NEXT: Pearl River clinched third place in the MACJC South Division with Tuesday’s sweep and will face North No. 2 Northwest Miss. this Friday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 12 noon (and 2 p.m. if needed) in a best-of-three playoff series in Senatobia.

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