River splits at East Central

            DECATUR — Pearl River’s Lady Wildcats remain one game behind East Central in fourth place in the MACJC South Division softball derby after splitting with the host Lady Warriors in a make up doubleheader here Monday.
            PRCC’s 10-hit effort in Monday’s first game resulted in an 8-6 victory, but ECCC rebounded with a 5-0 shutout win in the nightcap.
            The Lady Wildcats are now 21-15 overall and 10-8 in division play, while the third-place Lady Warriors are 27-11 and 11-7.
            The twin bill was originally scheduled for April 6, but was rescheduled due to a rain out.
            Fifth-ranked Mississippi Gulf Coast, which hosts Pearl River Wednesday in Perkinston, tops the South with a 15-3 league mark; while third-ranked Jones County is a game back in second at 12-4. Southwest Mississippi is still in the post-season hunt at 6-10.
            The North standings include first place East Mississippi (10-4), followed by Itawamba (11-5), Northeast Mississippi and Northwest Mississippi (both 9-5), and Holmes (10-8).
            The top four finishers in the North and South divisions earn berths in the MACJC State Tournament set May 2-4 at the home field of the South Division champion.
            In The River’s 8-6 win, East Central went up 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning, then added a solo run in the third. But the Lady Wildcats answered with a whopping six runs in the top of the fourth — including a grand slam home run by Kaci Lantrip out of Terry High — to take a 6-3 lead.
            The Lady Warriors’ solo run in the bottom of the frame cut PRCC’s lead to two, but Pearl River answered with a run in the top of the fifth. ECCC scored its final two in the bottom of the fifth, while the Lady Wildcats added the game’s final run in the top of the sixth.
            Starter Neely McCrary (9-6) of Petal High got the win in her six innings on the mound, giving up eight hits, striking out one, and walking two; while Courtney Warr out of Theodore High in Mobile, Ala., closed it out in the seventh and recorded two strike outs.
            East Central starter Tenna Patterson (13-7) got the loss in going the distance, giving up 10 hits, striking out two, and walking three.
            Lantrip paced the Lady Wildcats at the plate with her grand slammer and a single, while Megan Scronce of Petal High doubled and singled. Emily Jackson, another Theodore High recruit, and Kelsea Lewis of Oak Grove High had two singles each; while McCrary and Warr both had base hits.
            Amber McBroom led the Lady Warriors with a homer and a single, while Dakota Vowell had two singles and Lindsey Beard, Ty Buckley, Lajoya Griffin, and A.J. Peeler all had base hits.
            Both teams played an error-free game.
            In the nightcap, starting pitcher Mary Sanders limited Pearl River to a meager four hits — all singles — while her teammates pounded out seven to take the 5-0 victory.
            Things were scoreless for the first three-and-a-half innings before the Lady Warriors blistered the Lady Wildcats with four in the bottom of the fourth, then added the game’s final run in the fifth.
            Sanders (11-3) went the distance, striking out one and walking one; while PRCC starter Brittany LeBlanc (9-6) out of North Vermillion High in Maurice, La., got the loss. She also pitched the distance, giving up seven hits and striking out four.
            Jackson, LeBlanc, Whitney Waits of Oak Grove High, and Warr all had base hits for Pearl River; while Morgan Porter paced East Central’s seven-hit effort with a triple and a single. Buckley had two base hits, while Marlee Massey, Peeler, and Hayley Stephens all singled.
            PRCC committed two errors in the game to ECCC’s three.
            The two teams eye a rematch Saturday, April 27, with a 12 noon doubleheader in Poplarville to wrap the regular season.
            Following Wednesday’s 3 p.m. twin bill at Mississippi Gulf Coast, three more match ups remain in the regular season, including division foe Hinds at home on Saturday (12 noon), No. 1-ranked LSU-Eunice at home Tuesday, April 23 (3 p.m.), and division rival East Central.

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