Gulf Coast sweeps River to remain perfect at 8-0 in MACJC South Division

            POPLARVILLE — Mississippi Gulf Coast remains perfect at 8-0 in MACJC South Division play, as the Lady Bulldogs swept Pearl River 4-2 and 10-8 in doubleheader softball action here Tuesday in Lady Wildcat Stadium.
            With the losses, PRCC dropped to 13-10 overall and 4-4 in division play; while MGCCC improved to 19-4.
            In the first game, Pearl River scored the only run in the first five innings before Gulf Coast added two in the top of the sixth and seventh frames with the Lady Wildcats scoring the game’s final run in the bottom of the final inning.
            PRCC went up 1-0 in the bottom of the third when Heather Boutwell of Oak Grove High smacked a line drive lead off single to right field, stole second, and scored two outs later when Courtney Warr out of Theodore High in Mobile, Ala., reached on and error.
            The River left runners at first and second in the fifth, while the Lady Bulldogs took the lead for good in the top of the sixth. Danielle Craft and Emily Davis cracked back-to-back one-out singles, moved to second and third on a double steal, and Craft scored off Reina Baluja’s base hit to tie it up. Brooke Gaston’s sacrifice to center scored Davis before Lady Wildcat starter Brittany LeBlanc out of North Vermillion High in Maurice, La., K’d Ashley Hickman for the final out.
            In the bottom of the frame, Shannon Brown of Petal High managed a two-out double to left, while Gulf Coast padded its lead in the top of the final inning. Catherine Campbell drew a one-out walk, Morgan Fairley singled, but wound up at second; and Craft crushed a two-run double to center field to make it 4-1 before Davis flew to center for the final out.
            In the bottom of the inning, Boutwell drew a one-out walk, Kelsea Lewis of Oak Grove High singled an out later, and Warr’s ensuing base hit to center scored Boutwell. LeBlanc lined out to center field to end the game.
            Baluja (6-2) got the win in going the distance, giving up six hits, striking out two, walking four, and hitting one batter; while LeBlanc (6-2) got the loss. She also pitched the distance, giving up 10 hits, striking out seven, and walking two.
            Craft paced the Lady Bulldogs at the plate with a double and a single (two RBIs), while Davis and Fairley had two singles each. Baluja (one RBI), Campbell, Gaston, and Lea Kittrell all had base hits for Gulf Coast.
            Lewis led Pearl River with a double and a single, Brown doubled, and Boutwell, Whitney Waits of Oak Grove High, and Warr (two RBIs) all singled.
            Each team committed two errors in the game.
            In the nightcap, the first inning went scoreless, but MGCCC scored a solo run in the top of the second when Baluja smashed a lead off triple down the left field line and scored off Taylor Norris double to left center before starter Neely McCrary of Petal High retired three straight.
            Boutwell cracked a lead off double to left in the bottom of the frame before Gulf Coast starter Hallie Frenn retired three straight.
            In the top of the third, the Lady Bulldogs padded their lead to 5-0. Kittrell got things going with a one-out single, then Fairley reached on a fielder’s choice and Kittrell was safe at second via an infield error. An out later, Baluja crushed a three-run homer over the left center field fence to make it 4-0.
            Norris followed with a double, stole second, and scored off Gaston’s up-the-middle base hit. Ashley Hick then singled before McCrary stuck out Brianna Farr.
            In the bottom of the inning, Waits cracked a one-out single and Emily Jackson, another Theodore High recruit, walked an out later. Waits and Jackson moved to second and third off a passed ball before Lewis’s single scored Waits and Boutwell followed with a two-run double to right center to make it 5-3 before Frenn struck out McCrary to end the inning.
            In the top of the fourth, Campbell drew a lead off walk and Kittrell singled. The duo advanced to second and third on a passed ball before Fairley smacked a two-run single. Fairley stole second, moved to third on Davis’ ground out, and scored off Baluja’s double to make it 8-3.
            At that point, McCrary was relieved by Warr, who gave up a single to Norris before striking out Gaston and retiring Hickman for the final out.
            In the bottom of the inning, Brown outran a one-out bunt for a base hit, moved to second off a sac bunt by Micah Davis of Poplarville High, and scored when Waits reached on an error. Allie Flint flew out to right to end the inning.
            Brianna Farr led off the fifth with a walk, stole second, moved to third off Campbell’s ground out, and scored off Kittrell’s base hit to make it 9-4. Fairley followed with a single, but the base runners were left stranded at second and third an out later when Baluja flew to center for the final out.
            Pearl River cut Gulf Coast’s lead to four in the bottom of the frame when Lewis and Boutwell one back-to-back a one-out singles and Warr followed with an RBI ground out.
            In the top of the sixth, Norris led off with a walk, stole second and third, and scored off Craft’s ground out to second to make it 10-5; while PRCC went three up, three down in the bottom of the inning.
            Campbell drew a lead off walk in the top of the final frame and stole second only to see Kittrell hit into a double play. Fairley  popped to short for the final out.
            PRCC made it interesting in the bottom of the seventh when Jackson drew a one-out walk, Lewis reached on an error, and Boutwell walked to load the bases. That prompted the mound exit of Frenn for Baluja, who immediately walked Warr to push The River’s sixth run home. After striking out Kaci Lantrip of Terry High, Brown cracked a two-RBI single to make it 10-8 before Megan Scronce of Petal High flew out to left to end the game.
            Frenn (3-1) picked up the win in her six-and-a-third innings on the mound, giving up seven hits, striking out five, and walking two. Baluja gave up a hit, struck out one, and walked one in relief.
            McCrary (3-4) got the loss in her three-and-a-third innings, giving up 11 hits and striking out one; while Warr gave up three hits, struck out two, and walked three in relief.
            Baluja paced MGCCC’s 14-hit attack with a homer, a triple, and a double (four RBIs); while Norris had two doubles and a single (one RBI). Kittrell had three base hits (one RBI), Fairley two singles (two RBIs), and Campbell, Gaston (one RBI), and Ashley Hickman all had base hits.
            Boutwell led Pearl River’s eight-hit effort with two doubles and a single (two RBIs), while Brown (two RBIs) and Lewis (one RBI) had two base hits each. Waits also had a single (one RBI), while Warr had two RBIs.
            Each team committed two errors in the contest.
            The two arch-rivals eye a South Division rematch Wednesday, April 17, with a 3 p.m. doubleheader in Lady Bulldog Stadium in Perkinston.
            Pearl River returns to action Saturday when it travels to South Division foe Hinds in Raymond for a 12 noon doubleheader before hosting Baton Rouge CC (La.) Tuesday, March 26, for a 3 p.m. twin bill in Lady Wildcat Stadium in Poplarville.

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