Pearl River softball topples another Top 5 opponent
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — For the second time in 11 days Pearl River’s softball program has shown why it belongs to be in the conversation of the best in the country. After splitting at then-No. 5 LSU-Eunice on April 1, the Wildcats split with No. 2 Itawamba on Sunday at Wildcat Stadium. Following a thrilling 6-4 victory in Game 1, PRCC fell 10-2 in Game 2.
“I think we were really able to control Game 1. We chipped away, chipped away and chipped away. It was something where our pitchers threw well; Hannah Embry threw well and then Danielle Lalonde came in and closed it for a very good team win. We kept the energy in the dugout and we were ready for them in Game 1,” Pearl River coach Christie Meeks said. “In Game 2, we came out and laid down. We have to continue to fight both games.”
PRCC’s win marked their first victory over ICC (25-5 overall; 17-3 MACCC) since splitting with the Indians during the 2018 regular season.
Kaitlyn Passeau (Lucedale; George County) continues to swing a hot bat for Pearl River (22-10; 14-6). The hard-hitting center fielder laced a double into the left field corner in the first inning, scoring Taelor York (Choctaw; Clinton Christian Academy) all the way from first for the 1-0 lead.
The Indians threatened in the second, working two baserunners, but left fielder Promise Shanks (Waynesboro; Wayne County) caught a deep fly against the warning track and starter Hannah Embry (Vicksburg; Porters Chapel Academy) punched out the next batter to preserve the 1-0 lead.
Sydney Runnels (Seminary; South Jones) doubled PRCC’s lead in the second with a leadoff home run that cleared the left field wall.
The Wildcats kept hitting in the third inning, plating three runs for a 5-0 lead. After the Wildcats loaded the bases with one out, Runnels singled to left field. Abigail Thexton (Sumrall) then singled through the left side for the second run. Two batters later Shanks came up big, legging out a hard-hit comebacker to the pitcher.
“That’s a very good pitching team. I thought they moved the ball well and changed speeds well but our girls were able to drive the ball for base hits rather than waiting for the long ball,” Meeks said. “That’s something we really focused on this week in practice. We told them it’s OK to manufacture runs by utilizing the ground.”
ICC responded in the fifth inning, plating four runs to pull within one, 5-4. One inning later Cassady Bradford (Saucier; West Harrison) clanked a hard-hit ball off the ICC shortstop, allowing a sixth run to cross the plate for a 6-4 lead.
“This team has done a really good job of finding insurance runs when we’re ahead,” Meeks said. “I think that’s so important as a pitcher because it gives you a breath of fresh air going back onto the mound and being able to know you have a little wiggle room rather than just one run.”
Shanks, Runnels and Passeau each tallied two hits to lead Pearl River.
Embry earned the win, allowing four runs (two earned) on seven hits and one walk over five innings. Danielle Lalonde (Cecilia, La.) picked up the save, striking out three in two scoreless innings.
“She was really tough. She really did well throwing her offspeed after Hannah had her hard stuff working,” Meeks said of Lalonde. “I thought they were a great duo.”
The PRCC victory snapped a 14-game winning streak for ICC.
The Indians jumped on PRCC in Game 2, plating three runs in the first inning.
ICC added four more runs in the second and scored an eighth in the third.
Pearl River broke the shutout in the bottom of the third after back-to-back doubles by McKall Holder (Hurley; East Central) and Passeau, to pull within six, 8-2.
After the PRCC staff put up two straight zeros on the scoreboard, the Wildcats threatened to cut further into ICC’s lead in the fifth with two runners reaching. The Indians, however, induced a popup and groundout to end the threat.
ICC tacked on two more runs in the seventh to cap the scoring.
Although PRCC didn’t have any batters with multiple hits in the game, Hannah Miller (Kokomo; West Marion) worked two walks as a pinch hitter while Madi Waters (Laurel; West Jones) picked up a big hit off the bench. Waters also recorded three assists in three chances at shortstop.
“Madi did a great job coming in in Game 2 and getting a hit and handling her position. She had a lot of ground balls hit to her. That’s a really big deal,” Meeks said. “Hannah Miller really fought coming in as a pinch hitter and getting two walks in that scenario.”
Madelyn Burch (Franklinton, La.; Bowling Green), Lindsay Rose Shaffer (Lago Vista, Texas) and Lalonde each pitched in the game.
The Wildcats will play their final game at Wildcat Stadium on Wednesday when they host Southwest for a 3 p.m. first pitch.
PRCC’s sophomores will be honored prior to first pitch.
The games can be watched at PRCCMedia.com/gold. Anyone with a Roku or Amazon Fire device can also watch all of PRCC’s streamed games by downloading the Pearl River CC channel from their app store.