POPLARVILLE – Claiming their fourth MACJC doubleheader sweep of the softball season, the Lady Lions of East Mississippi Community College earned a pair of key conference road victories, 7-6 and 9-4, over Pearl River Wednesday afternoon at Lady Wildcat Stadium.
With a total of 25 hits on the day, including 17 in the extra-inning opener, EMCC improved to 10-8 in conference play on the season with the road sweep.
In the opener, EMCC starting pitcher Bryley Rodriguez staked herself to an early 1-0 lead with a two-out RBI double in the first inning off PRCC starter Olivia Holley.
After the Lady Wildcats went ahead 2-1 with solo runs in the third and fourth innings on a pair of run-scoring singles by Destiny Wesley, Rodriguez again helped herself with a two-out, run-scoring single to knot the score in the fifth.
The visitors then reclaimed the lead with three runs in the sixth off Pearl River reliever Dallas Blaker. Ashley Vickers' fourth hit of the game – an RBI single – set the stage for Mollie Singleterry's first collegiate homer to give EMCC a 5-2 advantage.
Rodriguez was reached for two runs on four hits in the bottom of the seventh before being replaced in the circle by AG Stewart, who was promptly greeted by Halle Melone's bad-hop single over Kelsey English's glove at shortstop that drove in the tying run. The Lady Wildcats then moved a pair of runners into scoring position, including the potential winning run at third, with only one out. Stewart proved clutch in the circle by getting a fly out and a strikeout to halt the PRCC rally and send the game into an extra inning tied at 5-all.
The Lady Lions used that momentum to score a pair of two-out runs in the top of the eighth. After Camryn Williams was hit by a Holley pitch, Carly Thompson's RBI double was followed by Megan Cummins' run-producing single to give EMCC a 7-5 advantage.
Pearl River answered in the bottom half of the extra frame with a one-out solo home run by Ramee Taylor. Following consecutive two-out walks, EMCC's Stewart got Elizabeth Taggard to line out to left field to preserve the victory and snap the Lady Wildcats' seven-game win streak.
The Lady Lions' 17-hit explosion in the first game was powered by four-hit efforts from Vickers and Rodriguez, who also posted her seventh win of the year. Thompson followed with three hits, while Singleterry and Camryn Williams added two hits apiece for the winners.
The two teams traded solo scores during the early stages of the second game. EMCC's second-inning run on Layton Sills' RBI single was sandwiched between single runs scored by Pearl River in the first and third innings to give the home team a 2-1 edge through three frames.
The visitors then took control of the game with a four-run fourth inning off PRCC starting pitcher Rylee Swilley. Singles by Cummins and English along with a walk to Rebekah Williams loaded the bases for EMCC. Vickers then smashed a bases-clearing triple – her fifth hit of the afternoon – ahead of Camryn Williams' run-scoring infield single to give the Lady Lions a 5-2 advantage.
After scoring an unearned run the next inning on Sills' second RBI single of the game, EMCC then tacked on three more insurance runs in the sixth on a wild pitch followed later in the inning by a dropped fly ball in the outfield that allowed two more runs to cross home plate.
With another eight hits as a team in the nightcap, EMCC was led by Sills and English with two hits each.
In the circle for the Lady Lions, Stewart registered her seventh victory of the season, while Rodriguez picked up her first collegiate save by throwing the final three innings.
Coach Kyndall White's 14-19 EMCC Lady Lions will play host to the Lady Trojans of Mississippi Delta in a scheduled 3 p.m. Wednesday doubleheader on the Scooba campus.