Meridian Star

Sports

May 6, 2014

Lady Rockets prepared for New Hope

PHILADELPHIA — It’s deja vu all over again for the Neshoba Central High School softball team.

Just as they did in 2013, the Lady Rockets (26-2) defeated Lake Cormorant High School in the third round of the MHSAA playoffs and now will square off against New Hope High School for North State honors.

“This is nothing new to our kids,” said Neshoba Central coach Trae Embry, whose squad beat New Hope 2-out-of-3 after dropping the opener in 2013. “We look forward to the challenge.”

NCHS will have its hands full against the Lady Trojans (16-7-1), who are led by DJ Sanders and Kaitlin Bradley.

Sanders, who also serves as the team’s No. 1 starter, boasts a .538 batting average to go along with a 10-3 record with a 1.69 earned run average in the circle, while Bradley has tallied 15 runs and 10 RBI this year.

“They’re led by their two outstanding seniors (Sanders and Bradley),” Embry said. “Both of them have playing for a really long time.”

Embry is particularly concerned with how much of an impact Sanders can make in a short three-game series, evident by her no-hiter in Game 3 against Lewisburg High School last week.

“She’s going to throw it 61, 62-mph,” Embry said. “You have to figure out a way to shorten up and put the ball in play against her. We are going to have some strikeouts because (Sanders) throws so hard. If you have a bad at bat, you have to wipe it away and come back the next time up.”

NCHS managed to do that last weekend in swinging the bats effectively, with four different players registering multi-hit efforts in the Lady Rockets’ series- clinching 8-2 win in Game 2.

“That’s been the case with us all year,” Embry said. “We’ve hit all year long, and we just hope that keeps going. We went into the series trying to limit our strikeouts. We were able to do that pretty well, and we hit some balls hard. We also pitched and played defense really well.”

Neshoba will counter Sanders’ expertise in the circle with an seasoned pitcher of its own in Aspen Wesley.

Wesley, who showed her dominance last week against Lake Cormorant in striking out 25 total batters in the two games, sports a 0.76 ERA to go along with 138 strikeouts in 83 1/3 innings pitched.

“She’s real relaxed in the circle,” Embry said. “She does her job. She understands she has a great defense that makes great plays behind her. It’s not just all about Aspen. It’s a total team effort.”

The series is set to begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday as Neshoba travels to New Hope, with Game 2 scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at Neshoba, and Game 3 to follow if necessary.

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