Pearl River routs Northwest in MACCC opener

Published 1:30 pm Monday, March 1, 2021

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Pearl River scored early and often in its Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference opener Saturday at Wildcat Stadium.

After run-ruling visiting Northwest 10-1 in five innings to take the opener, PRCC gutted out a 19-11 six-inning victory in the nightcap.

“Seeing this team’s fight was huge. That last game was a complete team win,” Pearl River coach Christie Meeks said. “The first game, kudos to (Hannah) Embry for really shutting it down and then our hitters exploded. They rolled it over and exploded the second game, too.

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“That was a complete team win. We needed everybody to win the second game.”

During Saturday’s doubleheader, PRCC honored all those who are affected by diabetes. Pearl River’s Vice President of the Poplarville campus, Jeff Long, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. 

Home runs and the deft pitching of Hannah Embry (Vicksburg; Porter’s Chapel Academy) were the headliners of Saturday’s opener.

After plating two runs in the first on a wild pitch and throwing error, the Wildcats (9-3 overall; 2-0 MACCC) dialed up three homers in the middle frames to jump ahead 6-1.

Leading 2-1 after two, Kaitlyn Passeau (Lucedale; George County) belted a solo shot over the center field wall to extend PRCC’s lead to 3-1. Not to be outdone, Cassady Bradford (Saucier; West Harrison) blasted a solo homer of her own in the next at-bat.

McKall Holder (Hurley; East Central) got in on the round-trippers in the fourth with a two-run homer.

Later in the fourth, Hannah Miller (Kokomo; West Marion) singled through the left side in the bottom of the fourth to score Passeau from second and push PRCC’s lead to 7-1.

After Promise Shanks (Waynesboro; Wayne County) singled in a run in the bottom of the fifth, Taelor York (Choctaw; Clinton Christian Academy) doubled into the left-center gap, scoring two Wildcats and ending the game courtesy of a run rule.

York led the team in the batter’s box, going 4-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored; two of her hits were doubles. Passeau scored three times to lead PRCC.

“We hit the ball like this against Bishop,” Holder said. “I think that series was a confidence booster. Having that doubleheader right before this one was really good for us.”

Embry entered the day ranked sixth in the NJCAA’s Division II ranks in strikeouts and set a new career-high with eight, allowing one unearned run on three hits in five innings. Embry did not walk a Ranger.

“This past week we have worked on watching the batters in the box and when they adjust, we adjust, so we can become more ball smart on our pitches. That’s something I saw out of her for the first time this season,” Meeks said of Embry. “She was really focusing and pitching her game rather than just throwing to hit a specific spot.”

After NWCC (3-3; 0-2) jumped ahead 3-0 in the first, the Wildcats quickly got two runs back in the bottom of the frame on a two-run double from Passeau.

The Wildcats jumped ahead 4-3 in the second on a two-run double from Holder.

The Rangers tied things back up, 4-4, in the top of the third with a one-out homer over the left field wall.

Pearl River regained the lead, 5-4, in the fourth on a single through the left side by Shanks.

Northwest put up a five-spot in the fourth to jump ahead 9-5, but the Wildcats immediately got a run back in the bottom of the inning on a Bradford single.

The Wildcats broke out in a big way in the fifth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Holder hit a smashed, sinking drive to right field. The outfielder couldn’t come up with the ball, allowing all three runners to score, tying the game 9-9. 

Passeau gave the Wildcats back the lead with a double-off the left field wall that scored Holder for the 10-9 advantage. Bradford followed it up with a single up the middle, scoring Passeau.

A two-run homer by Northwest in the top of the sixth tied the game back up, 11-11.

The Wildcats responded in the bottom half of the frame. Shanks broke the tie with a run-scoring single up the middle. Holder obliterated the close contest later in the frame, blasting a grand slam over the left field wall for a 16-11 lead.

“I was just worried about making a base hit. I wasn’t expecting to hit a grand slam right there, but I was really happy I did,” Holder said. “I was just looking to put the ball in play, anyway, anywhere. I didn’t know it was out until I heard everyone cheering. I saw Coach (Hannah) Sparks jumping up and down, so I figured it was out.”

Miller later drove in two more runs on a driven ball into the left field corner, just beating the throw in to third base for a triple.

Abigail Thexton (Sumrall) grounded out, scoring Miller to walk-off Northwest 19-11.

Holder led Pearl River, going 4-for-5 with seven RBIs. Passeau also had three hits in the game — all doubles.

“McKall had a day,” Meeks said. “KP also got hot. We’ve been waiting on her to bust open like that. It was all very contagious and I think they were more worried about the person behind them than themselves.”

Embry pitched the final 2 1/3 innings to earn her second win of the day. The freshman right-hander struck out four while allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits.

“I was just trying to come in and get three outs so I could get my team back hitting so they could score some more runs,” Embry said. “And they did that. I think they scored five in the very next inning.”

Lindsay-Rose Sheffer (Lago Vista, Texas) started the game, while Danielle Lalonde (Cecilia, La.) pitched 2 2/3 innings in relief. The two combined to surrender eight runs while striking out three. 

Pearl River will continue MACCC play on Tuesday with a home doubleheader against East Central. First pitch at Wildcat Stadium is set for 3 p.m.

Pearl River is streaming all of its home events at Most events will be broadcast at but in some instances where multiple teams are at home, PRCC will also have a feed on its auxiliary channel at Fans who have Roku or Amazon Fire devices can also watch the Wildcats on their televisions by downloading the “Pearl River CC” channel from their app store.