Late run lifts Pearl over Missy Gators|[03/28/08]

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 28, 2008

One well-timed hit was all Pearl needed to sneak past Vicksburg High and into first place in the Division 3-4A fast-pitch softball race Thursday at Bazinsky Park.

Hannah Peagler’s double down the right field line hit chalk, allowing Nacey Lee to score from second for the game’s only run in Pearl’s 1-0 win over the Missy Gators.

The hard-luck loss denied the Missy Gators under second-year coach Amanda Yocum a chance at gaining the upper hand in the division. Vicksburg (8-7, 3-2) had entered the key match-up with plenty of momentum after Tuesday night’s 6-4 win in nine innings at Ridgeland. Since VHS already had won at Pearl, 5-4, a win Thursday would’ve given the Missy Gators sole possession of first place.

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Instead, Pearl is now in first at 4-1 with Vicksburg and Ridgeland tied for second at 3-2. All three teams have three games left in the division, but the game that will most likely decide things is an April 8 game when Pearl visits Ridgeland.

“What we’ll need is for Ridgeland to beat Pearl. We still have three games left. We go to Yazoo County and then have two with Florence,” Yocum said.

“To keep them to a one run game was important. But I take the blame for this one. I took the bat out of a couple of my kids’ hands. They (Pearl) basically got one more hit than we got,” Yocum said.

Pearl (9-8, 4-1) had three hits to Vicksburg’s two, but it was the Missy Gators who had more chances to score as the Lady Pirates committed three errors and issued one walk. VHS pitcher Kristi Shelby was strong through the first six innings, allowing just one hit — a fourth inning single to Stacha Roan with two out. She did not have a walk and Vicksburg made no errors in the field.

“Oh yea, I was very pleased with the way we played in the field,” Yocum added. “And we made adjustments at the plate to connect with the ball.”

Pearl coach Lee Ann Purnell said Peagler’s double helped her team overcome its three defensive errors.

“The errors are what got us in the first game at our place. We made a few more today, but we also got that one hit we needed. We were both trying to manufacture a run,” Purnell said.

Yocum tried to do just that in the Missy Gators’ fourth and fifth innings. Claire Ray drew a leadoff walk in the fourth and then was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Olivia King. Yocum then called for another bunt-and-run, but the pitch to Rebekah Connerly was too high and she couldn’t get the bunt down. Ray was thrown out at third for the second out to erase the threat.

In the VHS fifth, Kaci Flaherty led off with a single to right. Claiborne Bryant, one of the team’s top hitters, went with the bunt to move Flaherty to second. But Pearl pitcher Ashley Wilson got both Ray and King to pop out to the infield to leave Flaherty on second and take the scoreless game to the seventh.

There, Lee led off with a single to right. After a fly out to center, Peagler doubled to right to score Lee.

In the bottom of the seventh, Connerly sent a well-hit ball to center that was caught for the first out. Wilson then induced two ground outs to end the game.

Shelby, now 8-5 on the year, finished with six strikeouts.

St. Al 16, Pelahatchie 2

Mallory McGuffee singled twice, drove in three runs, scored three times and stole five bases to lead St. Aloysius’ fast-pitch softball team to a thumping of Pelahatchie.

Sarah Franco tossed a no-hitter and struck out 12 to improve to 8-2 on the season. She also had two singles and RBI. Hannah Barrett singled and drove in three runs, while Taylor George had a single and two RBIs and K.K. DeRossette had an RBI double. Stephanie Gwin had an RBI single for the Lady Flashes, who are scheduled to play Ethel Saturday morning at 11 at Bazinsky Park.