PERKINSTON Pearl River defense of its 2010 state softball title fell short here Friday, as the Lady Wildcats dropped a 4-3, 10-inning semi-final contest to eventual state champ East Central in the MACJC State Tournament.ECCC followed its win over PRCC with a 7-6, eight-inning victory over host Mississippi Gulf Coast for the 2011 state championship. MGCCC defeated Jones County 5-0 to kick off Friday semi-final action.After Pearl River went scoreless in the top of the first, the Lady Warriors scored the game first run in the bottom of the frame. Abbie Joiner led off with a walk, while Kasie Buckley doubled to center an out later and Summer Alexander followed with a single to load the corners. Brittany Pounders sacrifice to right field scored Joiner before Taylor Bailey popped to third to end the inning.The second and third innings were scoreless, but ECCC managed a second run in the bottom of the fourth when lead off Pounders drew a walk, Bailey reached on a fielder choice, and Haylee Roberts singled through third base. After Kelsi Watson popped out to short, an errant pick off throw wound up in the home team dugout, scoring Bailey to make it 2-0 before Chelsea Jones flew out to right to end the inning.After a scoreless fifth frame, The River tied it up in the top of the sixth when Heather Hester of Hancock County High smacked a two-out double to left field, setting the stage for a two-run homer over the left center field fence by Alyssa Graeter of Poplarville High. Brittney Gary of Slidell (La.) High followed with a base hit before Janessa Dedeaux of Poplarville High flew to center for the final out.Both sides went three up, three down for the next one-and-a-half innings; but Pearl River went up 3-2 in the top of the eighth.With ETrareo Warren of Meridian High perched on second base to kickoff the first extra inning, lead off Brandy Rester of Poplarville High grounded out to third before Warren scored the go-ahead run when Jordan Adams of DIberville High reached on a fielder choice. Hester followed with an up-the-middle base hit before Graeter lined out to second and Gary fouled out.ECCC knotted it back up in the bottom of the frame. With Joiner at the second base, she moved to third off Lauren Nichols sacrifice bunt and scored an out later off Alexander single to right center before Pounders popped out to short to end the inning.Kasey Watkins of Perry Central High was on second to start the ninth for Pearl River. She moved to third off Dedeaux sac bunt, but was left stranded when Paris Redd of Greene County High struck out and Taylor Seals of Picayune High flew to right for the final out.The Lady Warriors had Laurel Burnett at second to kick off the bottom of the frame and she moved to third off Bailey sacrifice bunt before Roberts fouled out and Kelsi Watson lined out to third to end the inning.In the top of the 10th, the Lady Wildcats had Seals at second, who moved to third off Warren sacrifice bunt, but Rester struck out and Adams grounded to the pitcher for the final out.East Central iced the win in the bottom of the inning. With Watson at second base, Chelsea Jones sac bunted her to third and Joiner followed with an RBI single to left field to end the game.Starter Bailey (26-6) got the win in going the distance, giving up eight hits and striking out four; while Hester (9-12) got the loss after relieving starter Sheila Hall of Dutchtown (La.) High to start the second. Hall gave up two hits and a walk in the first inning, while Hester gave up four hits, struck out three, and walked three in her nine innings of relief.Hester also paced the Lady Wildcats at the plate with a double and two singles, while Rester had two base hits, Graeter homered (two RBIs), and Gary and Seals had singles. Adams had an RBI.Alexander led ECCC six-hit effort with a pair of singles (one RBI), while Buckley doubled, and Joiner (one RBI), Nichols, and Roberts had base hits. Pounders had one RBI.The Lady Warriors played error free, while the Lady Wildcats had one defensive miscue.Pearl River and East Central will play in next Thursday through Saturday Region 23 Tournament set for Traceway Park in Clinton.
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