PRC Lady Blue Devils advance to state championship with dramatic 4-3 win
Carriere—Staring elimination squarely in the face with three innings to play in Game 3, the Pearl River Central Lady Blue Devils rallied to tie and then beat gritty North Pike 4-3 on Keigan Pearson’s bases-loaded single to right field. With the win, PRC advances to the school’s first ever state championship series in girls fast pitch softball.
North Pike, the two time defending Class 4A champions before moving up to 5A this season, forced a third game with a 5-4 win in Game 2 earlier in the day.
In Game 2, the Jaguars scored two runs in the top of the first on singles by Jenna Brock, Linley Smith, and Janiah Talbert.
Pearl River Central got a run in the bottom of the first inning on Jade Latham’s single that scored Taylor Kauzlarich, who reached on a bunt. The Blue Devils tied the game at 2-2 in the second on a two out Jayden Davis double to right centerfield that scored Brienne Penton who reached on a walk.
North Pike’s Meredith Bates and PRC’s Jayden Davis both pitched scoreless innings in the third and fourth innings respectively.
In the top of the fifth, North Pike scored three runs. With one out, leadoff batter Madison Moak walked and Brock singled. Kayley Wagner singled to score Moak. After a groundout to short, Jade Latham entered the game in the circle replacing Davis. Janiah Talbert drove the ball deep into the right field corner and the ball was going to be caught by the rightfielder, but as she ran off the outfield grass onto the dirt warning track, the ground gave way under her feet, which allowed the ball to one-hop the wall and Talbert ended up on third base with a two run triple to put North Pike up 5-2.
The Blue Devils responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Shelby Archer walked and Latham singled to right centerfield. Catcher Madi Glidewell singled to left centerfield scoring both Archer and Latham to make it 5-4.
Bates and Latham both pitched three up and three down innings in the sixth and seventh to finish the game and force the winner take all Game 3.
In Game 3, North Pike scored twice in the first on a walk to Moak, a single by Wagner, an RBI single by Smith, and a fielder’s choice grounder by Talbert for a 2-0 lead.
While Bates kept the Blue Devils scoreless through four innings, the Jaguars added a run in the third on a double by Brock and an RBI single from Wagner to make 3-0.
PRC got things going offensively in the bottom of the fifth. Jayden Davis reached on an error and moved to second base on a bunt. Archer singled to centerfield to score Davis and moved from first to third on a wild pitch that the catcher could not locate when it got by her and bounced off the backstop. Latham beat out an infield single to score Archer and make it 3-2.
In the PRC sixth, Harlee Davis singled to centerfield with two outs. On the next pitch, Davis bounced off the base a long distance hoping to force a throw behind her and when the catcher did throw to first, Davis darted to second base ahead of the throw from the first baseman to the shortstop covering second base. Jayden Davis hit a ground ball to the far right of the second baseman, who bobbled it before to first, and Davis was safe at first as Harlee Davis raced around third and scored to tie the game at 3-3.
In the top of the seventh, Moak started the inning with a single to right field. Brock bunted and beat the throw to first and Moak tried to go from first to third on the play, but Archer alertly covered third base and took the throw from first base across the infield and tagged Moak out at third. On the very next pitch, Archer robbed Wagner of a single up the middle, gloving the grounder, touching second base for the force out and then throwing a laser to first to get Wagner by a half step to end the inning.
In the bottom of the inning, Madison Gower doubled to right centerfield to start the inning. Archer grounded out to second moving Gower to third base. After North Pike intentionally walked Latham and Glidewell to load the bases before Pearson’s dramatic single to win it.
Photo courtesy of Richelle Lumpkin
Pearl River Central (26-5) will face five-time defending state champion Neshoba Central (32-0) on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (if necessary) in Starkville.
WRJW 1320 AM will broadcast the games on radio, wrjwradio.com, and the WRJW app. Thursday and Friday games are scheduled for 6:30pm. If a third game is played on Saturday, the schedule will be determined by other classifications that also go to a third game and deciding game.