Meeks, Panthers bounce back to force Game 3

HATTIESBURG – Lizzie Meeks didn’t waste the chance for some swift redemption.

After losing a two-run lead in the top of the seventh inning, the senior pitcher drove in the game-winning run in the bottom half, lifting Pine Grove past Stringer 4-3 in Game 2 of the MHSAA Class 1A finals on Wednesday at the Southern Miss Softball Complex.

Game 3 will be Saturday.

Meeks stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh. On a 2-1 count, she ripped a hard grounder that went through the legs of Stringer’s third baseman.

“My whole mentality this entire time has been to be a tough out, and that’s really what I was thinking,” Meeks said. “I knew where she was going to throw it, and I saw it and just swung away.”

Pine Grove (25-11) was leading 3-1 after six frames, but Stringer (26-7) banged out three straight two-out hits in the seventh. Jaycee Holifield’s two-run single tied the game.

That was the only bad inning Meeks had in the circle. After allowing a run in the first, she whizzed through the next five innings. She and the rest of the Panthers were much more at ease than they were in an 8-1 loss in Game 1.

“These girls fought. They’ve got a different mindset, and when their back’s up against the wall like it was today, they seem to perform,” head coach Justin Jordan said.

This is a Pine Grove team that bounced back in the North finals after dropping Game 1 to Myrtle. Against Stringer, the Panthers finally came alive in the third inning by scoring three runs.

Meeks smacked a two-run double down the right field line for a 2-1 lead, and then Memory Mauney added an RBI single. Pine Grove finished with nine hits on the day.

“First couple of innings we were hitting them right at somebody, and then one of them found a hole, and I told them, ‘The balls are finding holes now.’ And all of a sudden we get what we get,” Jordan said.

Nine-hole hitter Anaston Christian had three hits for Pine Grove, while Madison Foster had two.

The Panthers also played errorless defense, and Meeks was part of a lineout double play that ended a Stringer threat in the fourth.

Extra Bases

Big Inning: Christian had a one-out bloop single in the seventh and moved to third on a Foster single and a walk to Carley Greer. Meeks then delivered her winning smash, which was ruled an error.

Big Stat: Stringer stranded seven baserunners.

Coach Speak: “The defense fought, man. They fought, they fought, and they kept fighting.” – Jordan