Meridian Star

Sports

May 7, 2014

Choctaw Central ready to run at South State

PHILADELPHIA —     While some teams might be dealing with nicks and bruises at this point in the season, Choctaw Central High School head softball coach Aaron Terrell said his team is fully healthy.

    And that's good news for the Lady Warriors, who are set to take on St. Patrick Catholic School out of Biloxi in the MHSAA Class 3A South State championship series Friday and Saturday.

    "I think they're the team to beat in 3A," Terrell explained. "They won state the past two years, and their pitcher is really good. She's already committed to Mississippi State. They've been beating people pretty badly in the playoffs, so we're going to have to be ready for them."

    Terrell wasn't exaggerating. The Lady Fighting Irish have beating their playoff opponents up to this point by a combined scored of 53-12 the previous two rounds. In hopes of combating St. Patrick, Terrell said he has his girls focusing on a couple of things in practice this week.

    "We're just trying to work on being quicker and the plate and putting the ball in play," he said. "Their pitcher throws in the low 60s, so we're just trying to be quicker and make the fundamental plays."

    With no nagging injuries, Choctaw Central will bring its A lineup to the plate, and No. 1 starter Betty Mingo is well-rested for this round, Terrell said.

    "We tried to get (Mingo) more rest during the regular season so she'd be a little fresher in the playoffs," Terrell said. "It might've cost us two games in the regular season, but she's pretty fresh right now."

    The team will toss Mingo in each game of the South State title series, and Terrell said he's been impressed with her development as a pitcher from last season to this season.

    "She's had a great season," he said. "I feel like we have a chance to win anytime she's on the mound. She's really grown up from her eighth grade year to her ninth grade year, and her change is working a lot better, which has made her a whole lot more effective."

    The Lady Warriors topped Franklin County in two games this past week, 6-1 and 7-1, in the second round of the playoffs. Thanks to the storms early last week, the Lady Warriors were forced to play Sumrall High School in round one the Wednesday and Thursday before their Friday and Saturday matchup against Franklin County. They won both games, 10-3 and 10-6, against Sumrall.

    "I learned we were really resilient," Terrell said. "I was concerned about my pitchers and catchers. We were able to play my No. 2 starter (Jasmine Hickman) one game. They all handled it well, and (the whole team) came out and played really hard and really well."

    Terrell credited a tough regular-season schedule as a big reason his team has had so much success this season.

    "I think it's the toughest schedule we've played (recently)," he said. "We've played some really good teams, and that's made us better. We have a young group — we're starting two 10th graders, three ninth graders and two eighth graders — and they've gotten better as the year has gone along."

    Choctaw Central (18-7) takes on St. Patrick at 6:30 p.m. Friday at home. It will face St. Patrick on the road at 3 p.m. Saturday. A third game will immediately follow, if necessary.

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