Pearl River pitching staff looks to lead the way in 2023
Published 8:30 am Thursday, January 26, 2023
Many teams would love to be in the situation that the Pearl River softball team is in heading into the 2023 campaign. The Wildcats head into the year with more viable pitching options than ever before.
“I believe pitching is going to be our strongest point because we have so many capable pitchers on our staff,” Pearl River head coach Christie Meeks said. “They want to play together and not individually. They do a good job of passing the baton.”
Meeks believes that any of her pitchers this season could easily step in and help lead the team in the circle.
“This season, I’ve asked our pitching staff to not categorize themselves as a number in the rotation,” she said. “I feel like doing that limits what you believe you can accomplish. We have a staff full of players that we can put in at any point and be successful.”
The Pearl River pitching staff has entered the spring with two spots in the rotation locked up with several more roles still to be solidified in the early part of the season. Two spots in the starting rotation will be occupied by sophomore Brinson Anne Rogers (Statesboro, Ga.) and freshman Natalie Herrington (Petal).
Rogers transferred to Pearl River ahead of the 2022 campaign and quickly proved to be one of the top pitching talents in the country. The 6-foot-4 right-hander had a season to remember winning 17 games and boasting a remarkable 0.94 ERA. She struck out 299 batters in 156 1/3 innings of work. Her 299 strikeouts ranked third in the NJCAA. She had 15 games with double-digit strikeouts which included a season-high 19 against Pensacola State. She tossed back-to-back no-hitters against MACCC foes Jones College and East Central. After the season ended, Rogers was named First Team All-MACCC, All-Region 23 and an NJCAA Second Team All-American.
“Brinson has gained two new pitches,” Meeks said. “She has really had a bulldog mentality coming into the year. She refuses to let anything stand in her path. She’s very determined and that’s going to keep driving her.”
“We can’t ask her to repeat last year’s success, but we can ask her to have more drive. It’s going to be fun to see what she does this year with her increased drive to succeed.”
Also a right-hander, Herrington will be a massive arm for the Wildcats this season. As a senior at Petal, she led the Panthers to a 26-5 record and their first state title in program history. In the circle, Herrington tallied a 0.72 ERA, 246 strikeouts and just 36 walks. For her incredible season, Herrington took home numerous All-State and Player of the Year honors.
Upon arriving on campus, Herrington went to work and has gained velocity that she didn’t have in high school.
“Natalie has come in and the weight room has completely changed her,” Meeks said. “She now has the ability to be a more powerful pitcher. She’s always had the off-speed pitches and movement, but now she’s throwing the ball harder too. It’s made her a complete pitcher. She’s tough on the mound and is very composed. Not much affects her. It’s going to be extremely fun to watch her compete this season.”
IN THE MIX
The Wildcats have the luxury of possessing numerous pitchers who will factor in with relief appearances or spot starts. Pitchers who will factor into the season are Bryn Daughtery (Vancleave), Mya Young (Paxton, Fla.), Bella Crawley(Ocean Springs) and Lizzie Weems (Bay St. Louis; Bay). The Wildcats also have one more arm in Makaya Necaise (Kiln; Hancock) who is recovering from an offseason injury and may factor in after rehabbing.
Daughtery is fresh off a dominant senior campaign at Vancleave, pitching her way to a perfect 15-0 record and a 1.71 ERA in 147 1/3 innings of work. She struck out 193 batters to just 21 walks.
“Bryn is going to keep batters off guard using her spin,” Meeks said. “She is mentally tough and we can see her coming in to close some games as well as use her arsenal of pitches in a very good way.”
Crawley comes to Pearl River after a prolific high school career at Ocean Springs. Across 293 2/3 innings pitched for the Greyhounds, Crawley collected 33 wins, 265 strikeouts and a stellar 1.91 ERA.
“Bella is going to be a junk type of pitcher,” Meeks said. “She has four different speeds which really sets her apart on the pitching staff. Coming off a successful high school season, her composure is going to be beneficial.”
Young was another great high school arm last season, pitching her way to a 1.28 ERA in 93 innings pitched. She had a stellar 10.47 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
“Mya can make you chase nasty pitches,” Meeks said. “She has so much movement and spin on her pitches. She should be able to create lots of ground balls and pop-ups.”
Weems redshirted at Gulf Coast last season before transferring to Pearl River in the fall.
“Lizzie works so hard and pushes people around her,” Meeks said. “She is really coming into herself.”
Necaise pitched sparingly as a freshman, throwing 2 1/3 innings and striking out a pair of batters in three appearances.
The Wildcats will get their season started Friday as part of the Galveston College tournament. PRCC plays its first game against Lake Land at 12:30 p.m. and follows it up with a 3 p.m. game against Navarro College.
Season and single-game tickets for Pearl River softball are available now and can be purchased at PRCCAthletics.com/Tickets.
CASHLESS BOX OFFICE
To help improve traffic flow and fan experience, PRCC athletics box offices are cashless in 2022-23. Only credit and debit cards will be accepted at the box office. Fans are encouraged to beat the lines and purchase their tickets in advance.
Pearl River livestreams all home games for free at PRCCMedia.com/Gold. Fans who have Roku, Amazon Fire or Apple TV devices can also watch the Wildcat broadcasts by downloading the “Pearl River CC” channel from their app stores.