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PRC softball undefeated to start season

The softball team for the Pearl River Central Lady Blue Devils is now 2-0 after defeating Mendenhall 9-0 and Petal 3-2 on Feb. 22.

The Mendenhall game only went four innings and the Petal game only went five innings because they were timed matchups, not full 7 inning contests.

Still, the Lady Blue Devils were able to earn both victories and learn some lessons along the way.

Head Coach Tony Labella said the issues that arose during the two matchups were defensive errors and striking out too often at the plate. PRC was able to overcome those problems en route to consecutive wins, but will want to put those worries to bed before district play starts.

Labella said an emphasis in practice would be making sure his batters are getting balls in play.

Due to copious amounts of rainfall throughout the state, fields are slippery and the ball’s bounce can’t be easily predicted on the slick surface.

Labella said if the team gets more balls into play, good things could happen with the current field conditions.

“Right now, especially because the bounces are inconsistent because of the rain everywhere, if you put the ball on the ground it increases the chance to get on (base),” Labella said.

Cutting down on the number of strikeouts at the plate would help the Lady Blue Devils as well.

PRC struck out nine times against Petal, so Labella is hoping that over time his players force defenses to make a play.

A bright spot for the team during the first two games was the pitching.

Over a total of nine innings between the two games only two runs were given up, both of them being unearned.

An unearned run is a run that crosses the plate without the pitcher being at fault, usually because of a fielding error.

The pitching staff is young, including several eighth graders, so to do that well to start the season is a good sign for the Lady Blue Devils. PRC will now move into a series of five away games in a row, starting with a matchup against the George County Lady Rebels on Feb. 28 at 4:30 p.m.

“Playing a team on the road (means) you’re going to find out what you have. If we do well against these teams we’ll know we’re on the right track,” Labella said.

Softball season is only two months long, so there isn’t a lot of time for teams to adjust and get in the groove of things. Teams need to have a quick start and be able to fix things on the fly if they want to be successful.

Labella said these early games serve as not only a way to test the athletes, but also see the team’s progress prior to the start of district play. “The season is so short you don’t have as much time to figure out what’s going to work and not going to work. It’s good to see what you need to fix,” Labella said.