Pearl River cruises through MACJC Tournament to claim its first-ever softball title

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FULTON – Pearl River’s Lady Wildcats claimed the school’s first-ever state softball championship here Friday, dropping East Central 2-0 in the title bout of the MACJC State Tournament held on the Itawamba CC campus.PRCC, which entered the tournament as the South Division’s No. 4 seed, shutout rival Mississippi Gulf Coast, the South’s No. 2 seed, 7-0 in a semi-final game prior to its championship match up with East Central. ECCC defeated South No. 3 Copiah-Lincoln 7-4 in Friday’s first semi-battle.The Lady Wildcats improved to 30-18 overall following the championship victory, while the Lady Warriors dropped to 40-9-1.River starter Sheila Hall (12-9) was the star of the contest, as the freshman out of Dutchtown High School in Baton Rouge, La., hurled a one-hitter over the seven-inning distance. And she achieved the feat less than a day after taking a seven-inning 4-3 victory in Thursday’s opening round game versus North No. 1 Itawamba, the North Division champions. “I can’t say enough about Sheila,” said eighth-year Lady Wildcat head coach Leigh White. “There’s no question she was the difference in the championship game. We’ve always had confidence in her ability, but, to be quite honest, I wasn’t expecting a performance like that.”Hall was dominate on the mound, allowing only two Lady Warrior base runners the entire game. Kasey Buckley cracked a lead off single to left field in the bottom of the fifth, then Brittney Cochran reached on a fielder’s choice before Paige Holsen hit into a double play to end the inning.”That’s all they (East Central) could muster on the offensive side,” said White. “Hand it to Sheila. She was instrumental in our winning.”Things were scoreless for the first three frames before The River scored its two runs in the top of the fourth. Baleigh Volking of Enterprise High got things rolling with a one-out single to center, then sped on to third when Mykeal Maes of Hancock County High smacked a single to right. Maes scored off a sacrifice by Kaci Mitchell of Petal High, then Bethany Russell of D”Iberville High singled down the third-base line, scoring courtesy runner Mallorie Mixon of Picayune High. Blakely Faciane of Slidell (La.) High grounded to short for the third out.Pearl River left seven base runners stranded in the game, while East Central never had more than three batters at the plate in any one inning.Hall struck out two Lady Warriors, while ECCC starter Taylor Bailey (20-6) got the loss in going the distance, striking out seven.Maes, Russell (one RBI), and Volking paced PRCC”s nine-hit attack with two singles each; while Jordan Adams of D”Iberville High, Brandy Rester of Poplarville High, and Laken Taormina of Sumrall High all had singles. Mitchell had an RBI.Both teams played error free. Semi-Final Round Pearl River 7, Mississippi Gulf Coast 0. In the Lady Wildcats’ semi-final victory over Gulf Coast, Maes and Volking accounted for all of Pearl River”s runs. Maes homered twice for three RBIs, while Volking homered and doubled for four RBIs.PRCC got things cranked up in the top of the opening inning when lead off Rester outran a infield grounder for a base hits and Maes crushed her first home run of the afternoon two outs later – a two-run dinger out of center – before Mitchell flew out to center. The Lady Bulldogs left two runners stranded in the bottom of the second, before the Lady Wildcats padded their lead in the top of the third when Rester, with one out, again outran a grounder for a base hit and scored an out later off Volking’s double down the third-base line before Maes popped out to first.In the bottom of the frame, MGCCC lead off Tiffany Fuller singled and Courtney Fairley reached on a fielder’s choice before Julie Mercer lined out to third to Maes, who then fired to first to nail Fairley for the inning-ending double play.In the top of the fourth, Russell cracked a one-out, up-the-middle single, then Faciane reached on an error only to see pinch runner Mixon get nailed at home for a second out. Faciane was tagged out in a rundown between first and second. After Gulf Coast went three up, three down in the bottom of the inning, Pearl River loaded the bases in the top of the fifth but couldn’t cash in. Laurin Locke of Petal High hit a one-out single to right, then Adams singled to left an out later before Volking reached on an error to load the corners. Maes lined to third for the final out.The Lady Wildcats iced the victory in the top of the seventh with a four-run onslaught. After lead off Locke popped out to short, Rester outran an infield grounder for a base hit, Adams reached on an error, then Volking crushed a three-run homer to make it 6-0. Maes followed with her second dinger of the game before Lady Bulldog starter Linsey Dickerson retired two straight.Amanda Fuller and Kayla Thompkins cracked back-to-back, one-out singles in the bottom of the final frame before Kayla Moran lined out to second to Adams, who then fired to Volking at second base to nail Amanda Fuller for the final out of the game.PRCC starter Corinne Fraychineaud (16-5) out of Northshore High in Slidell, La., got the win in going the distance, striking out one and walking one; while Dickerson (16-5) got the loss. She also pitched the distance, striking out five.Rester led the Lady Wildcats” 11-hit effort with three singles, while Maes had two homers (three RBIs), Volking homered and doubled (four RBIs), and Adams, Locke, Mitchell, and Russell all had base hits.MGCCC finished with six hits, led by Thompkins two singles, while Fairley, Amanda Fuller, Tiffany Fuller, and Sarah Smaltz all had base hits.The Lady Bulldogs committed three errors in the game, while the Lady Wildcats played error free.All three of Pearl River”s opponents in the state tournament will joined the Lady Wildcats in the Region 23 Tournament next week in Clinton.