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Defending champs sweep PRCC

Playoff-bound Pearl River gave No. 1-ranked LSU-Eunice (La.) all it could handle here Tuesday, falling to the reigning national and regional champions  via a pair of one-run doubleheader defeats in Lady Wildcat Stadium.

The Lady Bengals out of Eunice, La., were 4-3 and 7-6 winners in the twin bill, improving to 50-4 overall. The Lady Wildcats, on the other hand, dropped to 23-19.

With one doubleheader left, Pearl River has clinched at least a fourth-seed South Division berth in May 2-4’s MACJC State Tournament set for Mississippi Gulf Coast  in Perkinston. But a sweep over playoff-bound division rival East Central in Saturday’s regular-season finale in Poplarville, however, would cop the division’s third seed.

In Tuesday’s opening game, LSU-E went up 1-0 in the top of the first and maintained that edge for the next three innings before Cody Covington blasted a two-run  homer over the center field fence to pad its lead to 3-0.

After adding a solo run in the sixth off an RBI double by Taylor Simon, the Lady Bengals survived a three-run comeback by The River in the seventh.

Emily Jackson out of Theodore High in Mobile, Ala., and Kelsea Lewis of Oak Grove High led off by reaching on errors and Jackson scored when Hillary Dickens of Picayune  High cracked a two-out single. Kaci Lantrip of Terry High followed with an RBI double to score Lewis, while Lantrip scored the game’s final run off a base hit by Shannon Brown of Petal High. Allie Flint of Madison Central High then grounded out to end the  game.

Starter Julianne Broussard (24-2) picked up the win in her one-and-a-third innings on the mound, giving up a hit and striking out two; while Elizabeth Delafield  relieved in the second. She pitched five-and-two-thirds, giving up four hits, striking out one, and hitting a batter.

River starter Neely McCrary (10-8) of Petal High got the loss in her five innings of action, giving up six hits, striking out one, and hitting a batter; while Courtney  Warr, another Theodore (Ala.) High recruit, relieved in the sixth.

Covington paced the Lady Bengals’ seven-hit attack with a home run and a single.

Lantrip’s two doubles led the Lady Wildcats’ five-hit effort, while Jackson doubled and Brown and Dickens both singled.

In the nightcap game, LSU-E went up 2-0 in the top of the first, but PRCC answered with a solo run in the bottom of the frame. The Lady Bengals padded its lead to  3-1 in the top of the third only to see the Lady Wildcats take the lead with three runs in the bottom of the inning and pump their lead to 5-3 with a solo run in the fourth.

LSU-E bombed Pearl River with four in the top of the seventh. Jackson led off the bottom of the frame with a base hit and  scored after the Lady Bengals committed two errors over the next three at bats.

Delafield (4-0) got the victory.

Starter Brittany LeBlanc (10-9) out of North Vermillion High in Maurice, La., got the loss in going the distance; giving up seven hits, striking out five, and walking  two.

Again, Covington led LSU-Eunice at the plate with three singles.

Warr paced PRCC’s 10-hit effort with three singles, while Whitney Waits of Oak Grove High had two base hits, Lewis doubled, and Brown, Dickens, Jackson, and Megan  Scronce of Petal High all singled.

The Lady Bengals swept the Lady Wildcats in an earlier doubleheader played Feb. 27 in Eunice, La., taking 6-0 and 7-4 victories.

The River wraps its regular season Saturday at home against division rival East Central with a 12 noon doubleheader. The top four finishers in the MACJC North and South divisions earn berths in the upcoming state tournament. Host Mississippi Gulf Coast has secured the South’s No.  1 spot, followed by Jones County in second and East Central and Pearl River.