Meridian Star

May 18, 2013

Neshoba Central shuts out East Central 8-0

By Rocky Higginbotham / Special to The Star
The Meridian Star

RIDGELAND —  Neshoba Central’s last two rounds of the state softball playoffs involved grueling series wins over Lake Cormorant and New Hope. And while no one knows what today holds in the Class 5A State Championship Series, the Lady Rockets zipped through East Central like a hot knife through butter in Ridgeland Friday night.

    Freshman Kayla McKinion tossed a three-hit shutout and and her teammates backed her

with dazzling defense and 14 base hits -- and Neshoba blanked East Central 8-0 in Game 1 of a best-of-three set at Freedom Ridge Park.

    “Kayla’s a winner and she was outstanding,” Neshoba coach Trae Embry said. “She’s still sore from the New Hope series, but she came out and threw a big game and we made some excellent plays behind her. Our defense and pitching tonight were clicking, and we finally put the barrel of the bat on some balls, too.”

    Game 2 of the series is set for noon today, with an if-necessary contest to follow. Friday night, Neshoba was never seriously threatened, getting the only runs it needed in the first inning. Hailey Lunderman was 4-for-4 with a double, triple and two runs and Katlyn Duke was 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and four RBIs to lead the offensive onslaught. Madalyn McMahon was 2-for-3 with a double, two runs and two RBIs; Hannah Williams had two hits and two runs; and Kayla Robertson had two hits, a run and an RBI.

    In the circle, McKinion walked none and struck out six. She didn’t allow an East Central threat until the fifth, when Sunny Gerrish led off with a single and took second on Neshoba’s only error of the game. Kaytelin Taylor followed with a hit to put runners at second and third. But McKinion struck out the next hitter, then McMahon leapt high in the air to snare a bouncer and start a spectacular 5-3-2 double play that ended the inning.

     “We did play well,” Embry said after the Lady Rockets improved to 30-6. “But it’s just one win. You play best-of-three games for a reason. (East Central) has lost the first game of their last two series and come back to win. We’ve still got to get another win.”