Northeast Miss. trims River 3-2 in Region 23 Tournament opener

CLINTON Pearl River Lady Wildcats fell into the losers bracket with a hard-fought 3-2 loss to Northeast Mississippi here Thursday at Traceway Park in opening-round action of the Region 23 Tournament.It marked the second time PRCC fell to NEMCC in the last week, as the victorious Lady Tigers eliminated The River in the semi-final round of the MACJC State Tournament at Itawamba CC in Fulton last Friday. Northeast fell to now-state champ Jones County 6-5 in the championship game that immediately followed.Thursday against Pearl River, the second-seeded Lady Tigers scored all of its runs in the bottom of the first inning with fifth-seeded PRCC scoring solo runs in the top of the fourth and seventh frames.The Lady Wildcats dropped to 21-23 overall and will face sixth-seeded Itawamba, 4-1 losers to top-seeded and third-ranked Jones County on Thursday, at 12 noon Friday. Northeast (31-17) plays fourth-seeded Northwest Mississippi, 3-0 losers to third-seeded and No. 1-ranked LSU-Eunice on Thursday, at 12 noon. JCJC and LSU-E also tangle at noon with the winner playing the NEMCC-NWCC winner at 2:30 p.m. The JCJC-LSU-E loser plays the PRCC-ICC winner at 2:30 p.m.In the Pearl River-Northeast contest, the Lady Wildcats went three up, three down in the top of the first, while starter Heather Hester of Hancock County High struck out lead off Raleigh Downs in the bottom of the frame before giving up three straight hits a double to Nicki Whitten that was sandwiched by Haley Knepp and Jaisa Fox (RBI) singles for the first run of the game.After Andrea Cutts walked to load the bases, Ellen Tarrent reached on a fielder choice when she hit into a force out at home. Katie Beth Dahlem base on balls then pushed in a second run before Jazmin Smith followed with an RBI single to center to make it 3-0. Hannah Hastings grounded to third for the final out.NEMCC starter Erin Dixson retired three straight in the top of the second, while the Lady Tigers put two on in the bottom of the inning when lead off Downs reached on the first of three PRCC errors and Knepp outran a bunt for a base hit. Hester responded with three straight outs.In the top of the third, Pearl River loaded the bases when Christina Hart out of Northshore High in Slidell, La., led off with a single to left, Whitney Waits of Oak Grove High cracked an infield single two outs later, and Janessa Dedeaux, a William Carey University signee who prepped at Poplarville High, walked. Dixson struck out Hester to squash the threat.Alyssa Graeter of Poplarville High led off the top of the fourth with a home run over the center field fence to make it 3-1. Hillary Dickens of Picayune High reached when Dixson was tagged with a balk. Two outs later, ETrareo Warren of Meridian High cracked an up-the-middle base hits, stole second, but was left stranded with Dickens when Shannon Brown of Petal High flew out to center.Northeast left runners at first and third in the bottom of the frame off base hits by Downs and Fox.Fox relieved Dixson to start the seventh and immediately gave up a bloop single to center to Warren and Waits outran an infield grounder an out later, scoring speedster Warren from second to make it 3-2. Dedeaux then popped out to the catcher and Hester hit into a force out at second to end the game.Dixson (9-5) got the win in her six innings on the mound, giving up six hits, striking out one, walking one, and hitting a batter; while Fox gave up two hits in the seventh.Hester (8-4) got the loss in going the distance, giving up eight hits, striking out four, and walking two.Waits (one RBI) and Warren had two singles each to pace The River six-hit effort, while Graeter doubled (one RBI) and Hart singled.Northeast finished with eight hits, led by Fox (one RBI) and Knepp with two base hits each; while Whitten doubled and Dahlem (one RBI), Downs, and Smith all singled.PRCC committed three errors in the game to NEMCC none.

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