POPLARVILLE Nobody was more surprised than Pearl River Community College head softball coach Leigh White here Tuesday. Her Lady Wildcat squad, the defending MACJC state champions, kicked off its 2011 season with a doubleheader against the Alabama-based Marion Military Institute Lady Tigers and came away with two dominating victories. PRCC won both contests via the eight-run rule 12-4 in six frames in the opener and 9-0 in five in the nightcap. MMI fell to 0-2 with the losses. Going in, I didnt know what to expect, said White, who amidst her ninth season as the Lady Wildcats boss. We were starting three freshman and five of our starting sophomores saw only limited playing time last year. Ive got to hand it to them…we played an impressive two games. The River wowed both defensively and offensively, committing only one error the entire afternoon while banging out a total of 24 hits 14 in the first game and eight in the second. As well as we played on the defensive side, what impressed me the most was our bats. That was a concern. I hope we can use this to build on and continue to improve. Sophomore third baseman Tiffany Reed of Picayune High paced the PRCC hitting attack, cracking a two-run homer, and three-run triple, and an RBI single in the first game before bouncing back with an RBI base hit in the nightcap. Lady Wildcat pitching was superb. In the first game, Sheila Hall, a sophomore out of Dutchtown (La.) High, pitched a four hitter, striking out nine and walking two in going the six-inning distance; while in the second, freshman Heather Hester of Hancock County High hurled a one-hitter, striking out eight and walking three in her five-inning performance. Sheila and Heather looked great, said White, who guided PRCC to its first-ever state title last May. It looks like weve got at least two solid starters for the mound. The first three innings of the first contest were scoreless, but Pearl River unleashed a five-run barrage in the bottom of the fourth. Designated hitter Hester got The River rolling with a one-out single before Reed smacked her two-run dinger out of right center field an out later. Janessa Dedeaux of Poplarville High and Brittney Gary out of Slidell (La.) High followed the back-to-back base hits. Dedeaux scored off a single by Brandy Rester of Poplarville High, then Samantha Spence out of George County High in Lucedale cracked a two-run single to make it 5-0 before Jordan Adams of DIberville High grounded out to third to end the inning. Hall opened the top of the fifth with back-to-back walks before Beverly Diaz loaded the bases with a base hit. After Kara Miles struck out, Ashlin Ingram singled in a run before Mary Pilitowski smashed a three-run double an out later to make it 5-4. Samantha Martinez flew out to center for the final out. Alyssa Graeter of Poplarville High and Hester led off the bottom of the frame with base hits, which prompted the mound exit for Lady Tiger starter Brittany Harmon for reliever Gabby McDaniel. After Lacey Freeman of Forrest County AHS sacrificed the base runners to second and third, Reed and Dedeaux followed with RBI singles before Gary sacrificed Reed home to make it 8-4. Rester struck out to end the inning. After MMI went three up, three down in the top of the sixth, PRCC ended the game with four runs in the bottom of the frame. Lead off Spence reached on an error before Graeter doubled to right an out later. Hester was belted by a pitch to load the bases, setting the stage for Reed three-run triple an out later. Reed scored the game-ending run when Dedeaux reached on an error. Harmon (0-1) got the loss, giving up 10 hits and striking out one; while McDaniel gave up four hits, striking out three and hitting a batter. Pilitowski led the Lady Tigers with a double (three RBIs), while Diaz, Ingram (one RBI), and Brittni Trawick all singled. Besides Reed, Graeter doubled and singled for the Lady Wildcats, Dedeaux (one RBI), Hester, and Spence (two RBIs) all doubled and singled; and Adams and Gary (one RBI) both singled. MMI committed three errors in the contest. In the nightcap, Pearl River went up 2-0 in the bottom of the first before added four in the fourth and three in the fifth to end the game. Lady Tiger starter Jana Cooper (0-1) got the loss in her three innings on the mound, striking out one, walking one, and hitting a batter; while McDaniel relieved in the fourth. Ingram doubled for MMI only hit. Adams (two RBIs) and Graeter (two RBIs) both doubled and singled to pace The River 10-hit effort, while Rester had two base hits (one RBI), Kayla Fedlason of Poplarville High and ETrareo Warren of Meridian High both doubled, and Reed (one RBI) and Spence both had singles. Hester also had an RBI. The Lady Wildcats return to action Friday, Feb. 18, when it plays host to Faulkner State (Ala.) in a 1 p.m. doubleheader, then PRCC travels to LSU-Eunice in Eunice, La., for a 1 p.m. twin bill Tuesday, Feb. 22.
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