ELLISVILLE Ninth-year Pearl River softball coach Leigh White will quickly tell you that Good Friday 2011 was most definitely a "good" one for her reigning MACJC state champion Lady Wildcats.PRCC pulled out a 3-0 victory over its arch-rival host Jones County in the first half of an MACJC South Division doubleheader here Friday, thus icing a berth in next week (Thursday and Friday) MACJC State Tournament at Mississippi Gulf Coast in Perkinston. The host Lady Bobcats, who are ranked 17th in the latest NJCAA Division II softball poll a first for JCJC, pulled off a 4-3 win in the nightcap of the twin bill via a bottom-of-the-seventh, walk-off, inside-the-park home run by K.T. Perkins.Regardless of JCJC seventh-inning antics in Friday second game, White was elated that her squad now has a shot at repeating last year historical feat."Youve got to get in (the tournament) to even have a chance...it that simple," said White, whose team enters the tournament as the South fourth seed. "Weve struggled at the plate over the past couple of weeks, but our bats came around pretty good today. Were just relieved that were in (the tournament)."PRCC was swept by division champ Gulf Coast, ranked 10th nationally, Tuesday with a pair of 4-0 shutouts in Perkinston and its post-season aspirations were most definitely on the bubble."Ive got to hand it to our girls, we came through when we had to," White said. "We wouldve loved a sweep, but we made the tournament and that was our main goal."In Friday first game, things were scoreless for the first five innings before Pearl River scored the game only three runs in the top of the sixth.The Lady Bobcats threatened in the bottom of the fourth when Haley Brooke Smith and Mallory Cowart led off with base hits. An out later, Jessmar Walters singled to center, but Lady Wildcat center fielder Brandy Rester of Poplarville High nailed Smith at home plate with a on-the-money throw before starter Heather Hester of Hancock County High struck out Kayla McDaniel to KO the threat and end the inning with runners at second and third.After both sides went three up, three down in the fifth, the Lady Wildcats rallied for the win in the sixthLead off Rester got The River rolling when she reached on an error and stole second before scoring off a single by Jordan Adams of DIberville High. After Hester grounded out to the pitcher, Adams stole second before scoring off a double by Alyssa Graeter of Poplarville High. Lacey Freeman of Forrest County AHS then drove in Graeter with a base hit to make it 3-0 before Brittney Gary of Slidell (La.) High reached on an error, but Janessa Dedeaux of Poplarville grounded to short for the final out.Heidi Garcich managed a lead off single in the bottom of the frame, but Hester retired three straight to end the inning.In the top of the seventh, Rester smacked a one-out single and Adams a two-out single; while Hester retired the side in the bottom of the inning to end the game.Hester (8-11) got the win in going the distance, giving up five hits and striking out five; while starter Ginger Lonergan (16-4) got the loss. She also pitched the distance, giving up seven hits, striking out six, and walking one.Graeter paced the Lady Wildcats at the plate with two doubles (one RBI), while Adams (one RBI) and Rester had two base hits each and Freeman singled (one RBI). Carcich two singles led JCJC, while McDaniel, Smith, and Walters all had base hits.Jones County committed two errors in the game to Pearl River none.In the nightcap game, the fireworks started early as things were knotted at 2-2 after one inning.In the top of the first, Rester led off with a single before ETrareo Warren of Meridian High cracked a grounder to third and JCJC third baseman overthrew to first, scoring Rester and speedster Warren rounded the bases during the commotion to make it 2-0. Two outs later, Graeter reached on a second Lady Bobcat error and Gary walked before Jones starter Lauren Candies retired Dedeaux for the final out.JCJC answered in the bottom of the inning when lead off Garcich singled and scored off Smith ensuing single to the outfield. Smith sped to third after the Lady Wildcats attempted to nail Garcich at home and she scored off Cowart ground out to second to tie it up before PRCC starter Sheila Hall of Dutchtown (La.) High retired two straight to end the inning.Pearl River managed a two-out single by Rester in the top of the second, while Jones took the lead in the bottom of the frame. McDaniel led off with a walk, stole second, then moved to third off Perkins sacrifice bunt before scoring off Megan Cook sacrifice to left field to make it 3-2. Jade McLeod followed with a single and Garcich walked before Smith fouled out to end the inning.The Lady Wildcats tied it up in the bottom of the inning when Adams led off with a double and scored two outs later by Gary base hit. Dedeaux followed with a single to right before Freeman grounded to the pitcher to end the inning.In the bottom of the sixth, Hall walked lead off Alex Faciane, who moved to second on Jessmar Walters sac bunt before she exited the mound for Hester. Faciane was nailed at third on an attempted steal before Hester struck out McDaniel to end the inning.Pearl River seemingly was on the verge of a sweep in the top of the seventh. With one out, Hester reached on JCJC third error of the game and Graeter followed with a base hit. Hester moved to third when Gary reached on a fielder choice before Gary courtesy runner Kasey Watkins of Perry Central High stole second. Candies then retired to Dedeaux for the final out.Perkins led off the bottom of the frame with her inside-the-park home run for the one-run win.Candies (16-8) got the win in going the distance, giving up eight hits and striking out four; while Hester (8-12) got the loss in relief. She gave up a hit and struck out one in her one-and-one-thirds innings on the mound, while starter Hall went five-and-one-thirds, giving up three hits, striking out one, and walking four.Rester paced PRCC eight-hit attack with four base hits, while Adams doubled and Dedeaux, Gary (one RBI), and Graeter all had singles. Warren had two RBIs.Jones finished with four hits, led by Perkins homer (one RBI); while Garcich, McLeod, and Smith (one RBI) all singled. Cowart and Stacia Whitaker had one RBI each.The Lady Bobcats, who swept the Lady Wildcats 1-0 and 6-1 in a previous meeting March 31 in Poplarville, committed three errors in the game to the Lady Wildcats none.Pearl River is now 20-20 overall and 12-12 in division play, while tournament-bound Jones County is 32-12 and 16-8. JCJC enters the state event as the division third seed, while East Central is the second seed behind top-seeded Gulf Coast.North Division seeds include first East Mississippi, second Itawamba, third Northwest Mississippi, and fourth Northeast Mississippi.The Lady Wildcats open tournament play against East Miss at 2 p.m. Thursday, while JCJC Lady Bobcats tackle Itawamba at 4 p.m. East Central opens the tournament with a 12 noon contest against Northwest Mississippi, while the host Lady Bulldogs play Northeast Mississippi at 6 p.m.The ICC-JCJC winner will take on the MGCCC-NECC winner at 12 noon on Friday, followed by the ECCC-NWCC winner versus the EMCC-PRCC winner at 2 p.m. The state championship game will be played at 5 p.m. Friday.
Submitted by braswell on April 23, 2011 - 11:56am