Lady Wildcats wrap up season
Go back a couple of months and head coach Leigh White’s Pearl River CC Lady Wildcat softball team pulled off the unthinkable according to some skeptics at the Region 23 Tournament played hereover the weekend.
PRCC’s squad finished second in the annual regional event, rising from the losers’ bracket only to fall to nationally-ranked and now-MACJC and Region 23 champ Mississippi Gulf Coast 4-0 in Saturday’s championship round.
White, a Quitman native that just completed her fifth season as the Lady Wildcats’ head coach, was elated over her team’s effort.
“Our girls stepped up when we had to,” she said. “We had our backs against the wall when we faced three straight games on Friday after we lost to Gulf Coast (8-3) to kick off the morning, but we stayed alive by getting by Northwest (4-0) and LSU-Eunice (12-5) later in the day to make to Saturday’s semi-finals.
“That says a lot for our players. I couldn’t be prouder of their effort.”
Pearl River opened tournament play Thursday with a 7-3 thumping of East Central before a torrential downpour postponed the remainder of the opening day’s action until Friday. The Lady Wildcats were tossed into the losers’ bracket with their loss to Gulf Coast, but rebounded with their Northwest and LSU-E victories.
Saturday’s opening foe was Hinds, which fell to MGCCC 12-2 to wrap Friday’s play, and PRCC responded to the challenge with a resounding 9-2 bashing to make it to the championship round.
“We knew that was a big mountain to climb on Saturday,” White continued. “We were going to have to beat Gulf Coast twice to earn the championship, but we just seemed to run out of gas I guess.”
Gulf Coast, known as ‘Perk’ in Mississippi Juco circles, scored two runs in the bottom of the second and third frames and that was all it would need to ice the title.
White had gobs of praise for sophomore infielder-slugger Krystal Penton, a Picayune High product, for her six home run effort in the tournament.
“Krystal’s been a huge asset all season long, but she was incredible in the regionals,” White said. “Not only did she hit six homers, including a grand slam, but she accounted for 18 RBIs in the six games we played up there. And she had two home runs against (LSU) Eunice (a grand slam and a three-run) and against Hinds in the semi-finals.
“I’ve never witnessed anything like that in my life.”
White also touted the likes of sophomores Jessica Scallan of Metairie, La., and Kaci Williams of Hurley and freshmen Courtney Dickens of Picayune High and Jessica Dubuisson of Hancock County for their efforts at the plate.
Scallan, PRCC’s lead off batter, belted 10 hits in the tournament; including a two-run homer, three doubles, and a triple. Dickens had six hits, including two home runs and three doubles and accounted for six RBIs; while Dubuisson, the Lady Wildcats’ ace on the mound, cracked three doubles and four singles in the tournament.
“Kaci finished the tournament with four hits, but they were timely,” White explained, “and she drove in three runs. Jessica (Dubuisson) has been our ‘iron man’ on the mound all season long and she shined in the post season.
“She pitched in every single tournament game, started four of our six, and picked up three of our four wins,” White continued. “Jessica will be back next year and we’re expecting even better things from her. I can’t say enough about her…she’s a warrior.”
Freshmen Bridget Hannaford and Whitney Sumpter were also touted for their plate performances. The two Poplarville High recruits finished the tournament with seven hits each with Hannaford belting a homer, a double, and five singles. Sumpter had a double and six singles.
White also singled freshman Viki Ferencak of Vancleave for her key hits, particularly an RBI double she cracked in the Hinds game, while freshman Morgan Necaise of Hancock County drew praise for her two home runs and a double in the tournament.
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