Pine Grove unable to silence bats in Game 1 loss

HATTIESBURG – As Game 1 of the MHSAA Class 1A state softball championship series went on, Pine Grove’s pitches kept finding bats. Eventually, it was too much to overcome.

The Panthers were beaten by the Stringer Red Devils 8-1 on Tuesday afternoon at the Southern Miss Softball Complex.

“They just did a heck of a job hitting the ball,” Panthers coach Justin Jordan said of Stringer. “It would be different if we were going out there making 10 errors, but when they pop up 10 hits, I mean, 10 legit hits. It's not like they were just little dribblers rolling through the middle or through the five or six (hole) or anywhere else. They hit the ball.”

Stringer (25-5) broke open a one-run game in the bottom of the third with five singles, resulting in a four-run frame.

With two outs and two on in the fourth, Jaycee Holifield cleared the bases on a triple. She then scored on a wild pitch to make it 8-0.

The two big innings came largely as a result of scrappy Red Devil at-bats.

“One through nine, we have girls that are going to get after it,” Stringer coach Landon White said. “We don’t strike out muc,h and we battle and we compete.”

Red Devil hitters had just one strikeout.

Pine Grove (24-11) had a chance to strike first in the top of the first with a runner on third and one out, but Lizzie Meeks and Lexi Beard both struck out to end the threat. Stringer made it 1-0 in the bottom half on a wild pitch with a runner on third.

Memory Mauney led the second off with a double and went to third on a sacrifice bunt, but she got tagged out on a ground ball. Hadley Hurt then struck out swinging.

In Jordan’s eyes, being able to bounce back in Game 2 will involve getting hits with runners in scoring position.

“We’ve got to get runners in when we can,” he said. “We’ve just got to have timely hits.”

Pine Grove’s only run came on a solo shot by Beard in the top of the seventh.

Game 2 will be Wednesday at 2:15 p.m.

Extra Bases

Big Inning: Kayleigh Douglas, Holifield and Presley Arender each had RBI singles in the bottom of the third.

Big Stat: This was Pine Grove’s first game allowing four or more runs since April 12.

Coach Speak: “We’ve got 11 seniors. I want these girls to be able to say win or lose that they left it all out there on the field.” – Jordan on Game 2.