Pearl River earns first sweep in home debut

Pearl River’s Sydney Runnels slides home to beat a throw from Baton Rouge during the Wildcats’ home doubleheader against the Bears at Wildcat Stadium in Poplarville, Miss. PRCC won Game 1 4-3 and then run-ruled BRCC 12-4 in five innings. (BRETT RUSS/PRCC ATHLETICS)
Pearl River’s Sydney Runnels slides home to beat a throw from Baton Rouge during the Wildcats’ home doubleheader against the Bears at Wildcat Stadium in Poplarville, Miss. PRCC won Game 1 4-3 and then run-ruled BRCC 12-4 in five innings. (BRETT RUSS/PRCC ATHLETICS)

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Pearl River's softball program treated Wildcat fans to a sweep in their home debut Saturday. PRCC held on for a 4-3 victory over Baton Rouge in Game 1 and then run-ruled the visiting Bears 12-4 in five innings in the second contest.

"We've been working on nothing but finishing for the whole week," Pearl River coach Christie Meeks said. "That was really important for us, so I'm proud we finished (the first game). Even though it was close we still finished.

"That's going to continue to be the message for the remainder of the year."

The Wildcats (4-4 overall) opened the game with a web gem in center field as Mary Moore Widemire (Hattiesburg; Presbyterian Christian) made a diving grab running in to rob the game's leadoff hitter.

Baton Rouge (1-7) took the lead in the first on a two-out hit into the right field corner but starter Grace Stringer (Moselle; South Jones) recorded two punchouts in the frame to limit the Bears to one run.

Pearl River tied the game in the bottom of the frame thanks to some heads up baserunning. Sydney Runnels (Seminary; South Jones) was hit to open the frame and then went first to third on a chopper off the bat of Emily McDonald (Laurel; Wayne County). BRCC's throw to second was high and Runnels dashed to third, seemingly stunning the Bears' infielders. She later scored on a wild pitch to the backstop to tie the game, 1-1.

Two runners scores on single over the third base bag by Promise Shanks (Waynesboro; Wayne County). The slashing single scored Saige Hebert (D'Iberville) and Faith McKenzie (Fairhope, Ala.) to give PRCC a 3-1 lead.

Runnels added to PRCC's lead in the fourth, blasting a homer over the left field wall for a 4-1 lead. The round-tripper was Runnels' team-leading third of the season.

Baton Rouge pulled within one on a two-run double in the sixth. With runners on the corners and one out, BRCC attempted a delayed double steal, but McKenzie gunned the runner down at second base and the runner who was at third never charged home. Shortstop Brooke Fagan (Kiln; Hancock) scooped up the next ball and fired it to first to end the threat.

The Bears had another chance to tie the game in the seventh after their leadoff runner reached on a single and advanced to third on a bunt and groundout. With two outs and the potential tying run at third, Raegan Havard (Lucedale; George County) snatched a scalded ball to her left, spun and delivered a strike to first base for the final out.

Abigail Thexton (Sumrall) led PRCC with two hits in the game. 

Stringer earned her first win of the young season, scattering seven hits and three runs (two earned) while striking out two in 5 1/3 innings. Danielle Lalonde (Cecilia, La.) picked up her first collegiate save, recording the final five outs.

PEARL RIVER 12, BATON ROUGE 4 (5 innings)
Baton Rouge struck first in Game 2, plating a single run in the first. It didn't take long for Pearl River to re-take the lead as the Wildcats plated seven runs in the bottom half of the inning.

Jenna Comeaux (Youngsville, La.; Comeaux) opened PRCC's scoring with a single up the middle to score Runnels. McKenzie drew a bases-loaded walk to score Fagan and put PRCC ahead 2-1.

Thexton then singled up the middle with two outs to tack on two more runs. PRCC's final three runs of the inning scored on fielding blunders.

A throwing error in the second allowed PRCC to extend the lead to 8-1.

Pearl River had to work to get through the third unscathed, but starter Gracie Barnett got a big punchout to strand two runners in scoring position.

Fagan added to PRCC's lead in the bottom of the frame with a single to left that gave the Wildcats a 9-1 lead.

Baton Rouge got back on the scoreboard in the fourth with a solo homer but Thexton responded in the bottom half with her first career homer, a well-driven ball that easily cleared the left field wall.

"Coach Meeks told me to track the ball so I just kept my eye on it," Thexton said. "I was hoping it was gone after I hit it because I was jogging."

BRCC scored two more runs in the fifth but Barnett clamped down, getting a strikeout and a popout to the catcher to limit the Bears.

The Wildcats walked it off in the fifth thanks to a back-to-back RBI singles from Kambryn Chaisson (Picayune) and Shanks.

Barnett earned the win, tying a career-high with six strikeouts. 

Havard led PRCC with three hits in the game. Shanks, Thexton and Comeaux each had two. Thexton led PRCC with three RBIs. Runnels walked three times.

"We talked to them about making sure we track the ball all the way to the bat. Sometimes we're not doing that, so Coach (Hannah) Sparks talked to them about it," Meeks said. "They really responded to that message."

The Wildcats will hit the road for an extended road trip, beginning Tuesday at Northwest Florida State College. PRCC then participates in Meridian's Rush Invitational, playing Parkland College and Bossier Parish on Friday before facing Bishop State and San Jacinto College on Saturday. Meeks' club then returns home Feb. 29 to play Des Moines Area and NWFSC at noon and 4 p.m.

All home games will be streamed at

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Patrick Ochs

Pearl River Community College

Director of Marketing & Communications