POPLARVILLE – A 3-2 comeback win in the extra-inning nightcap earned the visiting East Mississippi Community College softball team an MACJC road doubleheader split with Pearl River Community College this past Saturday afternoon. Host PRCC held on for an identical 3-2 victory in the day's first contest.
The second game of the conference twin bill began with both starting pitchers retiring the side in order through the first three innings. PRCC starter Olivia Holley gave herself a 1-0 lead by hitting a two-out, solo home run off EMCC's Carly Thompson in the fifth inning.
After being limited to two hits heading into the seventh inning, the Lions rallied to temporarily take the lead. Kendall Wilkinson led off the seventh with a single and was advanced on Kaitlyn Brannon's mishandled bunt attempt. Following back-to-back strikeouts and with EMCC potentially down to its final strike, freshman catcher Layton Sills stroked a clutch two-out, two-run single to right field to give the visitors a short-lived 2-1 lead.
In the bottom half of the seventh, Rylee Dawsey's leadoff single to right field was misplayed to allow her to race all the way home for the tying run. EMCC's Thompson retired the next three batters to send the nightcap into an extra frame.
Wilkinson came up big again in the eighth with a two-out RBI double that plated Sydney Olander for the go-ahead run. In the bottom half of the inning, Thompson worked out of a jam that stranded the potential tying run at third base.
A freshman right-hander from Germantown High School, Thompson scattered four hits, while striking out eight and walking just one, improved her record to 6-6 on the year with her fifth complete game.
In the opening game of the day, Pearl River jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning with the aid of two outfield errors by the Lions. That would be the only scoring allowed by either starting pitcher until the fifth inning.
In the fifth, hits by Rachel Rooney and Mallory Vance off PRCC starter Jackie Shows preceded Olander's sacrifice fly to left field that got the Lions on the scoreboard. The Wildcats countered in the bottom half with their second run of the game by knocking EMCC starter AG Stewart out of the game after she gave up three successive singles.
Pearl River added a key insurance run in the sixth inning on Krista Robles' run-scoring single off EMCC reliever Ciara Steward. That extra run would prove critical as the visitors mounted a seventh-inning rally. After the Lions loaded the bases with one out, Olander's ground out to second pushed across their second run. Shows then got Averi Pender to bounce out for the game's final out.
Coach Kyndall White's 14-17 EMCC Lions, 11-5 within the conference, will play host to Northeast Mississippi Community College in a Tuesday twin bill that has been moved up one day from its originally scheduled Wednesday playing date. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. Tuesday at the EMCC Softball Field.