HL: Offensive explosion leads Pearl River to victory
DOTHAN, Ala. — Pearl River's softball team swung the bats well on Sunday to claim a split on the final day of the Chipola Tournament.
The Wildcats forced extra innings in the day's opener before falling to Gulf Coast State 11-9 in nine innings.
Despite a quick turnaround for Game 2 on Sunday, Pearl River exploded for six runs in the fifth to rally past Georgia Military College 13-9.
With the split, Pearl River finished the weekend 2-2 under new head coach Christie Meeks.
"First of all, we played a really good team. Gulf Coast State and Georgia Military College are really great teams. I think that first game the girls learned how to fight together as a team. We always want to grow and learn as we're going through our non-conference schedule and today we learned how to fight together," Meeks said. "In the second game, we came out flat but again we learned how to pick it up. We learned a lot about our emotions and how we can play together as a whole."
GAME 1: Gulf Coast State 11, Pearl River 9 (9 inn.)
The Wildcats had to rally from behind in Game 1 on Sunday.
After falling behind 6-1 after the top of the fourth, the Wildcats made things interesting.
After getting one run back on a Faith McKenzie (Fairhope, Ala.) sacrifice fly that scored Saige Hebert (D'Iberville) in the fourth, Pearl River's rally was sparked by a three-run fifth. Sydney Runnels (Seminary; South Jones) started the inning's scoring with an RBI single that scored Kambryn Chaisson (Picayune). Emily McDonald (Laurel; Wayne County) then scored Jenna Smith (D'Iberville) on another RBI single. A groundout from Hebert scored Runnels to pull PRCC within one, 6-5.
GSC loaded the bases in the sixth, but Gracie Barnett (Vancleave) punched out the sixth batter she faced in the frame to keep PRCC within striking distance.
The Wildcats responded in the bottom of the inning when Runnels singled up the middle to score Promise Shanks (Waynesboro; Wayne County) and tie the game 6-6.
PRCC loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh but couldn't find the timely hit forcing extra innings.
With the international tiebreaker in play, GSC jumped out to an 8-6 lead in the top of the eighth. The Wildcats responded, scoring two runs on a Smith triple that pushed Shanks across the plate and an RBI single from Brooke Fagan (Kiln; Hancock) that scored Smith.
In the top of the ninth, GSC plated three runs to jump ahead 11-8. PRCC got one run back on a McKenzie sacrifice fly that scored pinch runner Abigail Thexton (Sumrall), but couldn't force another extra frame.
Smith's triple was PRCC's lone extra-base hit in the game. Hebert, Runnels and Raegan Havard (Lucedale; George County) each tallied two hits. McKenzie led PRCC with three RBIs.
Barnett went the distance for PRCC, striking out six.
GAME 2: Pearl River 13, Georgia Military College 9
Trailing 3-0, PRCC got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second courtesy of a Chaisson double that scored Shanks.
GMC got the run back in the third but PRCC cut the score to 4-3 in the third courtesy of a two-run single from Fagan that scored Runnels and McDonald.
Georgia Military College edged back ahead 7-3 in the fourth. While PRCC got one run back in the fourth on a Runnels sacrifice fly, it wasn't until the fifth that PRCC's bats really came alive.
The Wildcats exploded for six runs in the frame. After the first two Wildcats reached safely, Shanks drove them home with a double to center field. Following a run-scoring line out by Chaisson, the Wildcats tied the game 7-7 on an error off the bat of Smith. The Wildcats weren't done there. McDonald singled in the go-ahead run and Fagan struck a two-run triple for the decisive hit.
PRCC tacked on three more insurance runs in the sixth on an RBI single from Smith and a two-run error off the bat of Runnels.
"Hitting is contagious. Once one hitter gets going, everyone else can too," Meeks said of PRCC's nine runs in two innings. "Another big positive was our dugout got some energy. They kept the energy and we kept fighting for the insurance runs."
GMC got two runs back in the seventh, but the Wildcats extinguished the opponent's threat to secure the team's second win in as many days.
Shanks had a breakout performance for the Wildcats, leading PRCC with a 4-for-4 performance at the plate.
"That kid did something really special," Meeks said. "She would get two strikes on her and she would just get calmer. That's not normal. That's what got her on base all those times. She had an 11-pitch at-bat one time. She battled and battled until she was able to get on.
"And then once she gets on base, she's really dangerous."
Chaisson, Havard, Fagan and McDonald each recorded two hits. Fagan led PRCC with four RBIs.
"Everyone really produced on offense," Meeks said, highlighting the performances of Shanks, Hebert, Fagan and Havard. "They all had fantastic weekends."
Danielle Lalonde (Cecilia, La.) earned her first career win, striking out three in six innings. Barnett retired the final three GMC batters in order to earn her first save of the year.
The Wildcats will hit the road for one more doubleheader on Tuesday when they visit Coastal Alabama-South before making their home debut Saturday against Baton Rouge. PRCC's home opener is set for a 1 p.m. start.
HOW TO TUNE IN
All home games will be streamed at PRCCMedia.com.