MAGEE, Miss.— Pearl River has been the talk of the MACJC Tournament. After stunning host Jones College in the tournament opener last week, the Lady Wildcats up-ended the oft-ranked Northeast Tigers 8-7 Monday afternoon to earn a berth in the program's first MACJC Championship Game since winning it all in 2010.
Despite dropping the game to No. 10 Itawamba 8-0, Pearl River (27-20 overall) secured the hosting rights to this week's Region XXIII Tournament due to a league rule that prohibits ICC from hosting two consecutive years.
The run through the tournament, which was first delayed by weather, then truncated and relocated to the Magee Sportsplex, was an opportunity that PRCC coach Leigh White believes showed the true colors of the Lady Wildcats.
"It feels good to get back on this stage," she said. "It has been a while. It takes a lot of work to get here. I'm proud of these kids and how they have fought to get here. It's all about them. They have worked hard day in and day out to get here.
"We are hosting for the first time in school history and I am proud of that. We're not finished yet."
No. 10 ICC 8, PRCC 0
Itawamba (36-12-1) got off to a hot start plating two runs in the bottom of the second inning after a two-run single.
The Lady Indians added on to their lead in the bottom of the third, scoring two runs off of a sacrifice fly and a groundout to take a 4-0 lead.
Pearl River had its chances to get onto the scoreboard, loading the bases in the second and fourth innings but were unable to break through striking out to end both threats.
The bottom of the fifth inning saw Itawamba break the game open.
ICC plated four runs to run rule the Lady Wildcats and claim the 2019 MACJC Championship 8-0.
Gracie Barnett (Vancleave) got the start in the circle for the Lady Wildcats.
Barnett pitched four innings, allowing six earned runs on four hits and five walks.
Krista Robles (Destrehan, La.) finished out the game for the Lady Wildcats.
Robles recorded the final two outs, allowing two hits while striking out one.
"We needed to get timely hits and we left a lot on base," White said. "We had some things get exposed and we need to get better. ICC is a good team. We just did not get some big hits when we needed them."
PRCC 8, NEMCC 7
Northeast (37-14), which has been nationally ranked this season and is currently receiving votes in the NJCAA poll, got the scoring started in the top of the second hitting a two-run double with two outs to grab a 2-0 lead.
The Lady Wildcats immediately responded in the bottom of the second inning when Alyssa Pinero (Picayune) hit an RBI single to plate the first run for PRCC.
Hannah Rasberry (Lucedale; George County) then gave the Lady Wildcats the lead with a two-run single to give the Lady Wildcats a 3-2 lead.
Northeast retook the lead in the top of the third inning, plating three runs to take a 5-3 lead, but PRCC wasn't down for long.
Northeast retook the lead with a solo shot in the top of the fifth inning to take a 6-5 lead.
The Lady Wildcats responded in the bottom of the fifth when Corkern hit an RBI single and Pinero hit a sac fly to give the Lady Wildcats a 7-6 lead.
Northeast again tied the game up in the top of the sixth scoring on a wild pitch to make it a 7-7 contest.
Rasberry scored the last run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning, hitting a solo home run over the center field wall to give PRCC a decisive 8-7 advantage.
"Hannah got up there and had two strikes and just hit it out," White said. "She did great."
LEADING THE WAY VS NEMCC
Corkern and Rasberry tied for the team lead in hits with two each while Rasberry led the team in RBIs with three.
Corkern and Pinero also drove in two runs.
Rylee Swilley (Kiln; Hancock) got the start for the Lady Wildcats in the circle.
Swilley threw 2 2/3 innings, allowing four hits, three walks and five runs.
"Everybody has doubted us," Swilley said. "It was easy to play with all the girls behind me. They did a great job at the plate and it's my job to be there and help produce outs."
Dallas Blaker (Bay St. Louis; Our Lady Academy) finished the game for the Lady Wildcats.
The Belhaven signee threw 4 1/3 innings, allowing one earned run on two hits.
"Dallas got out there and picked up where Rylee left off," White said. "She kept them off balance and that was our plan."
REGION XXIII TOURNAMENT
Details for this week's Region XXIII Tournament, which is Wednesday through Friday at PRCC's Lady Wildcat Stadium, will be announced Tuesday.