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From Staff Reports
The 2019 softball season hasn’t quite gone as planned for the Pearl River Community College softball team thus far.
The Lady Wildcats started hot out of the gate back in February, but some ugly losses in conference play had Coach Leigh White and her team at the wrong end of the standings and on the outside, looking in for the playoff pictures. But after winning seven of their last eight games, PRCC’s hopes of a playoff berth are rekindled, and two Greene County student athletes have played huge roles in the Lady Cats’ resurgence.
PRCC sophomores Neely McLeod and Mary Grace Turner went on a tear at the plate and in the field during the streak. McLeod, was 9-for-14 with six runs and eight RBIs during the stretch with five extra base hits. Turner threw out a handful of would-be base stealers during the stretch and was 11-of-18 with the bat with 13 runs scored, 14 RBIs and six extra base hits.
Turner hit five home runs during the stretch to push her to a team-high 13 homers on the season. One of those shots, a solo homer against Co-Lin on Wednesday cleared the top of the scoreboard in left-center field. On two occasions, after Turner made the trip around the bases, McLeod followed with a home run of her own in her next at-bat.
“Neely has stepped up,” White said after her team swept the Wolves Wednesday afternoon in Poplarville. “She’s been hitting the ball well these past few games and played well on both sides.”
“Our whole morale has been different and you can tell. Their presence in the box was a lot different today and we got good results out of that.”
Both girls stepped up big on Saturday in a crucial double-header with visiting Northwest Community College. The two drew a combined six walks in the opener and scored three runs as PRCC cruised to an 8-0 win in five innings. They combined for eight RBI’s in game two as PRCC fought from behind twice to earn the sweep.
After falling behind 4-3 in the top of the third, Turner retook the lead for the Lady Wildcats with a two-run bomb in the bottom of the inning to give PRCC a 5-4 lead. McLeod followed that up with an RBI single to tack on another run.
Northwest bounced back once again scoring three runs in the top of the fifth inning. But, that deficit didn’t last long as McLeod gave Pearl River back the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning with a two-run double. The Lady Wildcats added to that advantage in the bottom of the sixth by plating a run on an error and then scoring three more runs when Turner crushed her second homer of the game over the left field wall to give PRCC a 12-7 lead.
“When Mary Grace hit that (second) home run, that deflated them,” White said. “She brings a lot of energy to our team and you can see that the team just feeds off of that.”
Turner’s efforts during PRCC’s 6-0 week against EMCC, CLCC and NWCC earned her the MACJC Player of the Week honor. During that stretch, Turner hit .545 with a .773 on-base percentage and 1.727 slugging percentage. In 22 plate appearances, Turner hit four homers with one double, 11 RBIs, 10 runs scored and one hit-by-pitch. She also walked 10 times without striking out and stole two bases. On the year, Turner is hitting .389 with 13 home runs, 12 doubles and 34 RBIs. Her homer total this year is good enough to tie her for 11th nationally and third in the MACJC.
With six conference games left in the regular season, the Wildcats still have work to do to make it into the 8-team state tournament. They traveled to East Central on Tuesday and finish the regular season at home with double headers against Mississippi Delta (Friday) and Coahoma (Sunday).
McLeod is a graduate of George County High School and the daughter of Stan and Tammy McLeod of the Winborn Chapel Community. Turner graduated from Greene County High School and is the daughter of Russell and Jennifer Turner of Leakesville.