East Central clinched the Region 8-4A softball title Friday with a 16-1 four-inning win over Pass Christian.
The Hornets (21-5, 9-1) scored six runs in the second inning off of five hits and seven more runs in the third off of six hits to extend their lead to 15-1.
“We’ve been really begging them to swing the bats the way they did tonight,” Hornets coach Kyle Long said. “We knew they had it in them. I’m really proud of them for the way they played tonight and the way they swung the bats.
“Yesterday and today before we left, we kind of had a different mentality, a quiet confidence and a focus. I think that was the difference.”
The Hornets took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first with two outs. Hannah Dufault tripled and Maranda Busby followed up with a home run.
With one out in the second, Ashlynn Vice, Casey Duncan and Alexis Laughlin recorded singles before Kaleigh Fillingame doubled to score three runs. Dufault then drove her in with a home run to give the Hornets an 8-0 lead.
In the bottom of the second, Brooke Roach led off for Pass Christian, sending her third pitch over the right field fence to score the Pirates’ only run of the night.
The Hornets brought eleven batters to the plate in the top of the third inning. Madison Wall singled twice; Vice, Dufault and Fillingame contributed singles; and Busby doubled for six hits in the inning, resulting in seven runs.
The Hornets scored another run in the fourth on a Laughlin double.
While East Central racked up 15 hits on the night, sophomore Taylor Lawson held the Pirates off balance on the mound, giving up only three hits.
“She did well,” Long said. “She pitched well. She does a good job of changing speeds, keeping them off balance. That’s what she did tonight.”
The Hornets avenged an earlier loss to the Pirates, their only district loss before Friday.
“That first game, we didn’t have that much pressure,” Pirates coach Dennis Hough said. “When we went to play them, we already had one loss in district, and they were undefeated in district. So there was not a lot of pressure. Tonight, we carried the weight of being in first place, and we just came out tight. Obviously, they were prepared and ready and loose. They jumped on us early, and we just couldn’t pull it back together.”
Dufault led the Hornets with a single, triple and home run. Laughlin, Fillingame, Busby, Wall and Vice each added two hits.