No. 12 PRCC slams the door on No. 15 Itawamba
Published 8:50 am Monday, March 27, 2023
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — The No. 12 Pearl River softball team’s offense was on display in its sweep of No. 15 Itawamba Saturday at Wildcat Stadium. The sweep marked the Wildcats fourth consecutive MACCC sweep on the season. The Wildcats scored six runs on six hits in a 6-2 game-one victory and used three home runs and great defense to hold off Itawamba in a 10-6 game-two win.
“Game two is always tough, especially after a game one win. Energy is so high,” PRCC head coach Christie Meeks said on the sweep. “I was so proud of our hitters today. They really set the tone.”
Strong defense was the theme early on for both Pearl River (25-6 overall; 9-1) and Itawamba (19-9; 6-5) in a tight game-one battle.
The Wildcats made quick work of the Indians in the first two innings by retiring the first six batters in order.
The Wildcat offense threatened in the bottom of the second but failed to put a run across. After a Bryn Daughtery (Vancleave) walk to open the bottom of the second, Destiney Gary (Greenwell Springs, La.; Central) moved Daughtery to second on a single to center field. Ashlyn Dean (Picayune; Pearl River Central) moved both runners with a sacrifice. The Wildcats picked up the second out of the inning when runner Kallie Hunt (Picayune) was thrown out at home on a Natalie Toups (Brandon; Clinton Christian Academy) fielder’s choice. The inning ended on a CharLee Meadows (Piave; Greene County) ground out to the pitcher.
Itawamba’s offense woke up in the top of the third, scoring two runs and taking a 2-0 lead.
The Wildcats cut the lead to one in the bottom of the third. Morgan Lavergne (Baton Rouge, La.; Central) opened the inning with a walk. Lavergne advanced to second on a Julianah Overstreet (Vancleave) fielder’s choice. Lavergne and Overstreet advanced bases on an errant throw by the Itawamba catcher. Lavergne scored on a Cassidy Cartwright (Poplarville) RBI single to left field to bring the score to 2-1.
A Cartwright three-run blast in the bottom of the fifth gave the Wildcats a lead they would not relinquish. Lavergne opened the bottom half with a walk and advanced to second on an Overstreet single to left field. Cartwright sent a towering home run over the left field wall in her second pitch to give the Wildcats a 4-2 lead.
The Wildcat defense kept Itawamba from the scoring column in the sixth. Second baseman Meadows had a defensive gem for the second out of the inning. Going to her right, Meadows slid to snare a ground ball and made a laser throw to first to get the runner out.
The Wildcat offense added on in the bottom of the sixth. With Lavergne reaching base on a fielder’s choice, Nance moved her to second on an infield single. An error by the Itawamba third baseman put Overstreet on first and loaded the bases. Daughtery scored Lavergne and Nance on an error by the shortstop, 6-2.
Herrington pitched a complete game, striking out one and allowing two runs on four hits.
“Nat threw six shutout innings. Only giving up two runs against a fantastic team that will be in the top part of our conference,” Meeks on Herrington’s complete game. “That is a big deal.”
Cartwright was 2-for-4 on the game with four RBIs and one run.
“Cass, what a day,” Meeks commented on Cartwright’s work ethic. “She has been working so hard on making adjustments on her hitting, and she did it, fantastic.”
Itawamba did not waste time putting runs on the board in game two. The Itawamba leadoff hitter reached first on a Wildcat throwing error. Another Itawamba grounder to centerfield put runners on second and third. A fielder’s choice to shortstop put Itawamba up 1-0 and runner’s on second and third. Itawamba plated another runner on a passed ball to push the first-inning lead to 2-0. They plated one more in the first on an infield ground ball. A great play by Overstreet at first prevented another Itawamba score and gave the Indians a 3-0 lead after half an inning.
Lavergne did not waste any time in the bottom of the first to cut the Itawamba lead, sending the fourth pitch of her at-bat deep over the left field wall to put the Wildcats on the board, 3-1. After three consecutive walks, Gary gave the Wildcats the lead on a monster shot over the center field wall for a grand slam, 5-3.
After holding the Indians scoreless in the top of the second, the Wildcat offense went on a two-out run to push the lead to 7-3. Overstreet hit a deep double off the wall in center field to score Nance. In the next at-bat, Cartwright reached base on an error by the shortstop scoring Overstreet, 7-3.
Itawamba closed the gap on a first-pitch home run in the top of the third inning to cut the deficit to three, 7-4. Wildcat starter Brinson Anne Rogers settled down and closed out the inning by striking out the final two batters.
Lavergne did not rest on the laurels of her first-inning home run and sent a towering homerun over the left field fence for a three-run home run giving the Wildcats a 10-4 lead after three innings.
After the Indians loaded the bases with one out in the top of the fourth, Rogers was able to pitch out of the jam forcing a foul pop-up to Toups and a fly out to Cartwright in center field to stop the threat.
Pitcher Mya Young (Paxton, Fla.) entered in relief in the top of the fifth for the Wildcats. After a couple of singles, Itawamba scored on a passed ball to cut the lead to 10-5. A sacrifice fly in the next at-bat scored another Itawamba runner, 10-6. Catcher Marisa West (Cirtonelle, Ala.; LeRoy) thwarted an attempted steal of second to end the inning.
Great defense continued to be the theme for the Wildcats in the final two innings. With Bella Crawley (Ocean Springs) pitching in relief, the Wildcats only faced four batters in the top of the sixth. West again used her arm to throw out a runner in an attempted steal at second. Gary made a long run in left field to secure the second out of the inning. After an Itawamba single, Gary once again came up big with a diving catch on a line drive to stop the Itawamba threat.
In the bottom of the seventh, Crawley faced only three batters, forcing two into routine infield ground outs and striking out the final batter of the inning to secure the Wildcat win, 10-6.
Lavergne led Wildcats batters, going 2-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs. Gary was 1-for-4 with four RBIs and one run.
“Morgan with two bombs, and you got Des, her grand slam. There were so many big things happening in that game.” Meeks on the hitting of Lavergne and Gary.
The Wildcats used three pitchers in game two, with starter Rogers picking up the win while pitching four innings, striking out four and allowing one earned run on five hits. Young pitched one inning, allowing two earned runs on two hits and Crawley got the save, pitching two innings with one strikeout.
“Our pitching staff, to come together and throw that game against a good hitting team, is fantastic.” Meeks on the pitching-by-committee effort in game two.
The Wildcats host Hinds on Wednesday. Game times at Wildcat Stadium are 3/5 p.m.
CASHLESS BOX OFFICE
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Pearl River livestreams all home games for free at PRCCMedia.com/gold. Fans who have Roku, Amazon Fire, or Apple TV devices can also watch the Wildcat broadcasts by downloading the “Pearl River CC” channel from their app stores.