Meridian Star

Sports

October 26, 2013

Neshoba downs Wayne Co. for 5A/6A title

RIDGELAND —  The Neshoba Central slow-pitch softball team is still champion, but now reigns over two classes after sweeping Wayne County, 10-8 and 10-3, to win the Class 5A/6A championship on Saturday at Freedom Ridge Park.

    The win is also the Rockets three straight softball title after winning the 5A fast-pitch title in May. For head coach Trea Embry, the classification change doesn't make a difference, it's still a state title and caps their season at 36-1.

    "We've got a great group of girls that really, really work hard, really, really want to be successful," Embry said. "Our girls know what the meaning of work is and they want to be the best. Anything short of a state championship, we would have been disappointed."

    Just a year ago, the Rockets beat the Lady War Eagles for the 5A championship, so the setup on Saturday wasn't new. But to repeat as champions, Neshoba found itself in the hole early and had to dig out for a 10-8 Game 1 win. In the second game, the Rockets jumped out to an early lead, only to increase it for a 10-3 win for the title.

    "We were shakey here in the beginning of the game, but once we settled down we played pretty good," Embry said. "They did great … it's a total team effort and they've done great."

    Katlyn Duke attacked Nettleton for six hits, seven RBIs including a 2-run home run and five runs scored. Meshay Jimmie went 3-for-6 with eight RBIs and two runs scored. Kayla Robertson was intentionally walked five times to finish 1-for-2 with an RBI.

    "She has 17 RBI in the playoffs, hit four or five home runs in the last round, so I'm sure other coaches have talked and that's the scouting report on her," Embry said. "We don't mind that. We have confidence in every player on our team."

    Wayne County took a quick 2-0 lead in Game 1 when Shabrya Slater scored on an error. The lead held until the bottom of the third when the Rockets racked up four consecutive base hits triggered by a lead-off single by Jenna Pigg. She scored on Hannah Williams double. Duke cleared the bases with a double of her own for a 3-0 lead and later scored on Madelyn McMahon's fielder's choice.

    In the fifth inning, down by three, 7-4, Neshoba strung together three singles and an intentional walk to load the bases for Jimmie. She cleared them with a line drive into the right field corner to slide in for a triple and later scored for a 9-7 lead. Each side added a run in the sixth inning for the final, 10-8.

    "We wanted to fight for one, but I was just hoping that our team would calm down and get it together, stop making errors and hit better," Duke said. "Just relax and wait on a good pitch and make her pitch to us."

    The first inning of Game 2 picked up where the Rockets left off. Jimmie, again, tripled to clear the bases for before scoring on a sac-fly by the next batter, 4-0. Wayne County threatened in the bottom of the inning, but Gabby Franklin was called out of the batters box to end the inning on a single that would have loaded the bases.

    Neshoba added two runs in the third, fifth — on Duke's home run to left center field — and again in the seventh.

    "Duke's done it all year," Embry said. "We kind of expected that home run, it was just a matter of when it came."

    In the bottom of the sixth, Wayne County struck for a single run. Pinch hitter Jadacia Everette reached on a successful bunt creating infield confusion that allowed Kayla Bunch to score from third.

    In the bottom of the seventh, facing elimination, the Lady War Eagles added two more runs to delay Neshoba's celebration by a few minutes.

    "We knew we at a short early on, if we stayed health and kept working and things feel right, but we were a great ball team and had a great year." Embry said. "We're going to enjoy it."

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