No. 4 Lady Bobcats claim third straight Region 23 title

By FROM JCJC,

FULTON – The Lady Bobcats have done it again.

Pitchers Karli Perque (Westwego, Louisiana) and Hallie Donald (Mooreville) combined on a five-inning, no-hitter and Gracie McCleskey (Caledonia) belted a two-run home run to lift No. 4 Jones County to a 10-0 victory over No. 2 LSU-Eunice in the Region 23 championship game here Saturday afternoon at the Itawamba Softball Complex.

It is the third state region crown for the Lady Bobcats, who are 49-3 overall and have won 16 straight games.

Both JCJC and LSU-Eunice will appear in the NJCAA Division II National Tournament May 16-19 at Traceway Park in Clinton. The 16-team field seedings and draw will be announced Monday.

This will be the sixth time in seven seasons for JCJC to make the national tournament.

The win also marks a clean sweep for JCJC women’s athletics for the 2017-18 school year.

The Lady Bobcat soccer, basketball, softball and tennis teams all won both the MACJC and Region 23 titles during the current athletic year.

Jones took control quickly in Saturday’s game against the defending national champions.

In the bottom of the first inning, Kelsha Loftin (Mendenhall) was hit by a pitch to start the inning. She stole second and was sacrificed to third by Taylor Murray (Parklane Academy). Emily Robinson (Lafayette) followed with an RBI single.

Callie Venable (Clinton, Louisiana) then singled. Robinson and Venable both advanced on a passed ball and Robinson scored on Donald’s groundout to make it 2-0.

JCJCJ made it 4-0 in the second.

Bailey Gilbert (Sylva-Bay Academy), McCleskey and Simone McKinney (Harrison Central) walked to load the bases. Loftin’s fielder’s choice grounder scored Gilbert and Murray’s fielder’s choice grounder scored McCleskey.

The Bobcats sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five runs in the third.

Venable led off with a walk and scored on a double by McKennah Sikes (Van Buren, Arkansas). Gilbert doubled to right to score Sikes and McCleskey followed with a two-run home run to left to make it 8-0.

McKinney drew a walk and Loftin followed with a single. With two outs, Robinson singled to left to score McKinney.

In the bottom of the fourth, Meg Martin (Leake Academy) led off with a walk, took second on a passed ball and went to third on a groundout by Nancy Williams (Southeast Lauderdale). Gilbert and Breanna Hasty (Germantown) drew walks to load the bases. Natilyn Hasty (Germantown) reached on an error on a ball hit to center field, which allowed Martin to score.

Perque went 3.1 innings, finished with eight strikeouts and two walks. She is now 21-2. Donald had two strikeouts and two walks in 2.2 innings.

Robinson singled twice for JCJC. McCleskey homered, while Sikes and Gilbert had doubles. Loftin and Venable added singles.

Kaleigh Crutchfield started and took the loss for the Bengals. She went 2.1 innings, allowed seven runs (six earned), four hits and walked four. Heidi Zumo pitched .2 innings, allowed two runs, three hits and walked one. Jeanne Trahan pitched an inning, allowed an unearned run, no hits, walked three and struck out one.

LSU-Eunice is now 47-17.

Region 23 Tournament

Thursday’s results

G1, LSU-Eunice 4, Itawamba 2

G2, Jones County 4, East Central 3

Friday’s results

G4, Jones County 6, LSU-Eunice 5 (10 innings)

G3, East Central 12, Itawamba 7

G5, LSU-Eunice 6, East Central 2

Saturday’s result

G6, Championship, Jones County 10, LSU-Eunice 0 (5 innings)

Top two teams advance to the national tournament

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