POPLARVILLE – Pearl River Community College softball is moving on the MACJC State Tournament after a dramatic victory in Game 2 of the first-round playoff series.
Sophomore Halle Melone (Oklahoma City) smacked a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Wildcats a 7-3 victory over Copiah-Lincoln and a sweep of the best-of-three series at Wesson.
Fifth-seeded PRCC (26-18) will battle host Itawamba on Friday in the opening round of the State Tournament. Times will be determined on Monday. Jones County and East Central also advanced to the State Tournament. Co-Lin completed its season 26-19.
The Wildcats jumped out in front with a run in the bottom of the first inning on a leadoff single by sophomore Anna Grace Cooley (Lucedale) and a run-scoring double by freshman Elizabeth Taggard (Picayune).
The Wolves tied it up with a run in the top of the third, but PRCC responded in the bottom of the third with a run. Cooley again opened the inning with a single and scored on a two-out single by freshman Dallas Blaker (Bay St. Louis).
Pearl River maintained its lead until the sixth, when Co-Lin scored twice. Once again, the Wildcats answered in the bottom of the inning with a tying run, after freshman Rylee Swilley (Kiln) kept the Wolves from further damage with runners at second and third.
Freshman Alyssa Pinero (Picayune) led off with a single, and PRCC loaded the bases on a single and a walk. Cooley hit a groundball to shortstop, but freshman Ashley Terwilliger (Saucier), pinch running for Pinero, beat the throw to the plate.
Neither team could score in the seventh, and Swilley pitched around a hit batter and a single to keep Co-Lin from scoring in the top of the eighth.
In the bottom of the inning, sophomore Ilyssa Easton (Hurley) led off with a single and the Wildcats loaded the bases with a single by sophomore Sarah Depperschmidt (Hurley) and an error off the bat of Taggard.
Melone, who had five RBIs in Friday’s Game 1 victory, turned on an 0-1 pitch and sent it over the centerfield fence for her sixth home run of the season and the walk-off win.
Swilley (6-7) pitched three scoreless innings of relief for the victory. She allowed just one hit, struck out two and walked one.