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Lady Wildcats split doubleheader thanks to Hickman’s one-hitter

Former Poplarville High standout pitcher Rachel Hickman continues to make her mark on the next level.

Hickman hurled a one-hit shutout in the nightcap of a doubleheader Tuesday to help visiting Pearl River Community College come away with a split against East Central in MACJC South Division play.

Each squad picked up 8-0 wins in six inning affairs, leaving  the Lady Wildcats at 15-11 overall. Both teams remain tied for second place in the division at 8-4 behind nationally-ranked and undefeated Jones County (28-0, 14-0).

ECCC’s Kendra Wilson hurled a two-hitter to propel ECCC to its shutout win, before Hickman turned in her impressive performance.

In the first game, the Lady Warriors went up 1-0 in the first when leadoff Anna Katherine Nowell tripled and scored off two-batter Mallory Turner’s single.

East Central’s 1-0 edge remained intact until the bottom of the fifth when the Lady Warriors pushed in three runs. Turner and Ty Buckley both cracked one-out singles before scoring off Haley Stephens’ triple. An out later, Stephens scored off Morgan Porter’s double to make it 4-1 before River reliever Ashley Hawkins of Theodore (Ala.) High retired Amber McBroom.

ECCC ended the game via the eight-run rule in the sixth when Karoline Holsonback and Nowell led off with base hits and Turner walked,  setting the stage for Buckley’s grand slam homer.

Wilson (8-2) picked up the win in pitching the distance, giving up two hits, striking out two, and walking one, while starter Courtney Warr of Theodore (Ala.) High (2-1) got the loss in her 4.1 innings on the mound. She gave up six hits, struck out three, and walked one, while Hawkins closed it out, giving up five hits and walking one.

Kelsea Lewis of Oak Grove High doubled for PRCC, while Hannah Holloway of Petal High singled.

Buckley paced ECCC’s 11-hit effort with a home run and two singles (four RBIs).

In the nightcap, Megan Scronce of Petal High belted a lead off single in the first, moved to second off a sacrifice by Breanna Herndon of Poplarville High, and scored an out later off Lewis’ single before Kaci Lantrip flew out with the Lady Wildcats up 1-0.

The second and third innings were scoreless, but The River blasted ECCC with a seven-run barrage in the top of the fourth off base hits by Heather Boutwell of Oak Grove High, Hickman, Emily Jackson of Theodore (Ala.) High, Scronce, and Warr, a double by Lewis, and a walk by Herndon.

After a scoreless fifth frame, lead off Herndon reached on an error and scored an out later off Lewis’ double to wrap the game via the eight-run rule.

Hickman (8-4) picked up the one-hit win in going the distance, striking out one and walking three batters, while Lady Warrior starter Makayla Kelly (11-4) got the loss. She also went the distance, giving up 13 hits, striking out one, and walking one.

Lewis paced the Lady Wildcats’ 13-hit attack with two doubles and two singles (four RBIs), while Boutwell had three singles, Scronce two singles (two RBIs), Lantrip doubled (one RBI), and Warr, Hickman, and Jackson (one RBI) all had base hits.

Pearl River and ECCC eye a South Division rematch set for Wednesday, April 16, with a 3 p.m. doubleheader in Poplarville.

The Lady ’Cats return to action when it hosts South Division rival Southwest Mississippi today for a 4 p.m.doubleheader.