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Pearl River celebrates Sophomore Night with sweep

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Thursday was a perfect day for the Pearl River softball program. On an amazing day at Wildcat Stadium, not only did Pearl River honor its sophomore class, but the Wildcats swept visiting Southwest to clinch a postseason berth. PRCC earned a 5-4 win in Game 1 and then run-ruled the Bears 9-1 in Game 2.

“The atmosphere was unbelievable. Kudos to baseball, basketball and soccer and everyone who was out there. It made it so much fun for the girls. Their energy put ours through the roof,” Pearl River coach Christie Meeks said. “The first game our sophomores were a little tight with lots of emotions and the atmosphere really helped them out.”

Although PRCC still has two games remaining in the season, the Wildcats now know they’re assured of games beyond this weekend.

“That was huge,” Meeks said. “We had three huge doubleheaders this week. Coming home and sweeping really put us in a good position ahead of a long bus ride to Northeast.”

In between games the Wildcats celebrated their sophomore class, which consists of Abigail Thexton (Sumrall), Kaitlyn Passeau (Lucedale; George County), Danielle Lalonde (Cecilia, La.), Sydney Runnels (Seminary; South Jones) and Kambryn Chaisson (Picayune).

“This sophomore class is very special to us. I’ll get emotional talking about them,” Meeks said. “They’re so special because this is our first group. They mean so much to us just for their leadership and knowing what we’re doing. They really bought in to help us take this program to another level.”

GAME 1

Although the Bears opened the scoring with a run in the first, PRCC leapfrogged the visitors in the second with a three-run inning.

After Hannah Miller (Kokomo; West Marion) doubled with one out, Runnels launched a hard-hit ball to right field that the Bear fielder lost in the sun. The triple plated Miller to tie the game. Thexton immediately scored Runnels on a single through the right side. Later in the frame Promise Shanks (Waynesboro; Wayne County) plated PRCC’s third run on a single over the glove of the pitcher that somehow bounced under the glove of a diving second baseman and found its way into center field.

Three innings later the Wildcats extended their lead to 5-1 courtesy of a two-run homer from McKall Holder (Hurley; East Central).

Taelor York (Choctaw; Clinton Christan Academy) and Runnels led PRCC with two hits apiece.

Hannah Embry (Vicksburg; Porter’s Chapel Academy) picked up her 12th win of the season with a strong complete game effort.

The right-hander limited damage in the first when she struck out consecutive batters with the bases loaded. With runners on the corners in the second, she kept PRCC’s deficit to 1-0 by picking up another big punchout. Embry finished the game with nine strikeouts.

“I’m just going to have to tell her to load the bases every game she plays,” Meeks said with a laugh. “She plays so well under pressure. She pitches well in pressure situations.”

GAME 2

Game 2 got off to an odd start. With the bases loaded, starter Madelyn Burch (Franklinton, La.; Bowling Green) struck out a Bear batter. The batter started to jog down to first as if she had walked, and the runner on first took off for second. Chaisson threw the ball down to first and Cassady Bradford (Saucier; West Harrison) tagged the Bear out for the unorthodox double play.

PRCC didn’t waste any time pouncing on Southwest in the bottom half of the inning. Taelor York (Choctaw; Clinton Christian Academy) led off the frame with a triple into the corner and then Holder launched a two-run homer well over the center field wall.

Prior to the game Meeks had asked hitting coach Hannah Sparks if Holder was doing all right after a long season.

“She said, ‘yeah, I just got her back focused,’ and man did she ever get her back focused,” Meeks. “It was really good to get her back. She just exploded.”

The Wildcats put up a three-spot in the third inning courtesy of back-to-back homers from Passeau and Bradford, and an RBI-single from Thexton.

After Southwest broke the shutout in the top of the fourth the Wildcats responded with a four-run inning. York doubled in Pearl River sixth run of the game and then Passeau and Bradford went back-to-back for the second time in the game to push PRCC’s lead to 9-1.

“Cass has been back and fourth with Erin (Daughtery) all year. Cass got hot and did a fantastic job,” Meeks said. “KP’s (second homer) hit the light pole over the trees and it came back into the field.”

Burch turned in a strong performance for the win, striking out four while limiting Southwest for one run on two hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings. Lalonde recorded the final out for the win.

“Madelyn was really spinning it all day today,” Meeks said. “Her last couple of games she has really spun it well and gotten into the zone.”

NEXT UP

The Wildcats will conclude the regular season on Sunday with a doubleheader at Northeast. Game 1 in Booneville is set for a 2 p.m. start.