POPLARVILLE, Miss. — For the first time in Pearl River's history the Region XXIII Tournament will be played at Lady Wildcat Stadium in Poplarville.
Coach Leigh White and her Lady Wildcats secured the honor Monday when they defeated Northeast in the second round of the MACJC Tournament. Because Itawamba — their opponent in the State Championship Game — was unable to host for a second straight year due to league rules, PRCC was guaranteed to host regardless of the outcome.
The whirlwind of the MACJC Tournament was still evident Tuesday as Pearl River prepared to host the four-team tournament.
"They're excited. Of course it was a letdown that we didn't win the State Tournament — we wanted that — but they know they have another opportunity to get out here and compete," White said. "We'll get back in (the hitting cage) to work on some things and then see what we can do."
Itawamba (36-12-1 overall) enters the three-day tournament as the No. 1 seed and will play No. 4 Copiah-Lincoln (30-15) at 4 p.m. Wednesday. No. 3 PRCC (27-20) will tangle with No. 2 LSU-Eunice (44-6) at 6 p.m. The winners of the two games will play at 2 p.m. Thursday, with the losers playing in the first elimination game at 4 p.m. Thursday.
One reason the Lady Wildcats are still playing, White said, is the fact they essentially have been playing playoff softball for weeks. After falling behind in the MACJC standings early in the season, Pearl River won 10 of its final 12 regular season games to secure the final spot in the State Tournament. The Lady Wildcats then proceeded to up-end host Jones College in a statement victory that sent shockwaves through the state's softball community.
"The big takeaway (from the MACJC Tournament) was beating the No. 1 team and proving we can play with anybody," White said. "It proved to the kids that if we get out there, compete, play hard and play as one, we can beat anybody. Our kids are relentless.
"They knew the challenge facing Jones but they hit it head on. They just went in saying we have nothing to lose; we're not supposed to be here so let's just have fun and see what we can do. That's what they did and here we are."
With the Wildcats, Lady Wolves, Indians and Bengals remaining as the final four teams in Region XXIII, White believes a ticket to the NJCAA World Series in Clinton is there for the taking.
"I think the three teams from Mississippi that are hot right now are in it," she said. "It can be anybody's."
REGION XXIII TOURNAMENT
Game 1:1-Itawamba vs. 4-Copiah-Lincoln, 4 p.m.
Game 2:2-LSU-Eunice vs. 3-Pearl River, 6 p.m.
Game 3:Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 2 p.m.
Game 4:Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 4 p.m.
Game 5:Game 4 winner vs. Game 3 loser, 6 p.m.
Game 6:Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 2 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary):Game 6 teams, 30 minutes after Game 6
Pearl River Community College
Director of Communications for Athletics