By Bruce Thornton
228Sports Contributing Writer
The George County Lady Rebels pounded out 11 hits and 10 runs Tuesday night to defeat East Central 10-2 as both teams opened Division 8-5A play. It was the first meeting of the year between the 2022 South State finalists.
East Central swept the Lady Rebels last season on their way to their second consecutive appearance in the Class 5A State Championship. Baleigh Tullos had a ringing one-out double in the top of the first but Peyton Collins struck out the next two Lady Hornets to end the threat. The Lady Rebels jumped on East Central starter Breyona Tanner for seven runs in the bottom of the first. Irina Sanford was hit by the first pitch of the inning and following a walk to Natalie Jones and a one-out infield single by Sidnee Beech, Kyleigh Howell drew a bases-loaded walk to drive in Sanford and Gracee Magee followed with a sacrifice fly. Jordan Bradley added an RBI on a fielder’s choice to plate run number three. Blakely Slay’s 2-run double was followed by Aryana Dixon’s 2-run triple and the Lady Rebels were up 6-0. Sanford’s RBI single concluded the seven-run first for the Lady Rebels.
East Central got on the board in the top of the third, as Kinsey Cochran drew a two-out walk and Tullos followed with a two-run blast to left field. Collins would settle in and allow only one hit the rest of the way as the 8th grader improved to 6-0 on the season. She allowed two runs on three hits, walking one and striking out eight. Tanner settled in for the Lady Hornets and held the Lady Rebels scoreless until the sixth inning.
Doubles by Natalee Jones and Sidnee Beech plus a couple of East Central errors allowed the Lady Rebels to tack on a trio of insurance runs for the 10-2 final.
Tanner went six innings allowing 10 runs, nine earned, on 11 hits while striking out three and walking three and hitting one batter. The Lady Rebels improve to 11 and 1 on the season and 1-0 in division play while East Central falls to 6-6-1 and 0-1 in division play. George County host Vancleave Thursday night before taking on Bryant, AL, and Orange Beach, AL, Saturday in the Battle at the Beach.
East Central takes on St. Paul’s, AL, and Bryant, AL in the same event Saturday. The rematch between the Lady Rebels and the Lady Hornets will be Saturday, April 8th in Hurley.
The Vancleave Lady Bulldogs will come into Thursday night’s battle with George County with a record of record of 7-2 and 1-0 in division play. The Lady Bulldogs defeated Gautier 15-0 in four innings Tuesday. Brooklyn Rhodes tossed the shutout while Gabby Moore added a three-run home run in the win.
In other division openers across the Southern Six, in 6A Gulfport defeated Biloxi 5-3 and D’Iberville powered past Pascagoula 18-7. Also, Bay High defeated Moss Point in 4A and St. Patrick also opened division play with a 14-0 win over OLA in Class 1A.