No. 17 Pearl River splits with Snead State in opener
Dylan Dunaway / PRCC Sports Information Director
HATTIESBURG, Miss. — The No. 17 Pearl River softball team kicked off its 2022 campaign Tuesday, splitting with Snead State at William Carey University. The Wildcats fell 5-0 in game one before taking the nightcap 4-2.
"We have to continue to grow and get better," Pearl River coach Christie Meeks said. "We have to string hits together. That's always hard in the first couple of games as you try to learn the lineup and what you have to hit behind. Our offense put a lot of pressure on our pitchers, but they did really well today all things considered. They worked as a staff."
GAME ONE Snead State (3-1 overall) got the scoring started early in the first game of the day, picking up a run in the first frame. A Parson batter singled before advancing to scoring position on a Pearl River (1-1) error. After a sacrifice bunt, a flyball into left field brought the runner home to make the score 1-0.
After a few calm innings, Hannah Miller (Kokomo; West Marion) opened the fourth inning with a hard-hit ball to the Snead State shortstop who booted it, allowing Miller to reach. Taelor York (Choctaw; Clinton Christian) followed it up by reaching on a bunt single, but the Parsons quickly put an end to the threat, retiring the next three Wildcats to end the inning.
The fifth inning got off to a great start for Pearl River as Hannah Embry (Vicksburg; Porters Chapel Academy) struck out the first batter on four pitches, but the Parsons were able to capitalize on some Pearl River miscues with a 3-run homer to extend their lead to 4-0.
Snead State grabbed another run in the sixth inning to make the score 5-0. The Parsons had a chance to blow the game open as they loaded the bases with one out. The Wildcats then made a pitching change, bringing in former Ragin' Cajun Brinson Anne Rogers (Statesboro, Ga.) who promptly struck out the next two batters to end the threat.
The Wildcats threatened in the bottom half of the seventh, earning back-to-back walks but were unable to push any runners across the plate, losing 5-0.
York was the only Wildcat to get in the hit column, grabbing two. Keigan Pearson (Carriere; Pearl River Central) and Erin Daughtery (Vancleave) each walked once.
Embry pitched 5 1/3 innings in her first start of the season, allowing four runs and striking out seven. Rogers was great in relief of Embry as she tallied 1 2/3 innings with four strikeouts and no runs.
GAME TWO After a quiet first inning, Pearl River broke through with a run in the bottom of the second. Jena Pacheco (Vancleave) laced a ball at the Parson third baseman who dove to knock the ball down. The fielder couldn't recover as Pacheco reached first. Pacheco eventually came around to score when Payton Lee (Picayune; Pearl River Central) blooped a single over the shortstop's head, giving the Wildcats a 1-0 advantage.
One batter into the top of the third inning, the game was tied as Snead State blasted a solo shot to make the game 1-1.
The Wildcats were able to regain the lead in the third inning. York singled to open things and Cassady Bradford (Saucer; West Harrison) moved her to second with a groundout. Pearson then stepped to the plate and put the Wildcats back on top 2-1 with a line-drive single up the middle.
The York and Pearson combo struck again in the fifth inning. York again opened the inning with a base hit, but this time Pearson crushed the first pitch of her at-bat over the centerfield wall to make the score 4-1.
Snead State loaded the bases in the top of the seventh after a hit-by-pitch and back-to-back singles before scratching a run across with a single to make the score 4-2. Rogers then grabbed a strikeout before inducing a fly-out and groundout to end the game.
Pearson (pictured above) had a great afternoon at the plate, leading Pearl River in hits and RBIs with three of each.
"What freedom it is for these kids who have been hurt to come in and see that their hard work was for something," Meeks said. "It was great to see Keigan come in and lead us like that. She's really turned it on in practice the last couple of days. We're proud of her."
York and Pacheco were tied for second in hits with two.
Madelyn Burch (Franklinton, La.; Bowling Green) earned the start, pitching 1 2/3 innings and allowing just one run on three hits.
Rogers again entered in relief in game two, this time throwing 4 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and one earned run.
"We've said it before but we believe she just flips a switch and turns into a bulldog when she's in the circle," Meeks said. " She came in during high-pressure situations and handled them with ease. We're really proud of her for that. She's been working extremely hard to get back."
UP NEXT Pearl River returns to action Friday as the Wildcats travel to Bay Minette, Ala. to take on Coastal Alabama – South. The doubleheader is set to begin at 12 p.m. and will be livestreamed at JockJive.com