Meridian Star

Sports

December 24, 2012

‘Softball HEAVEN’

Three area programs claim softball state championships

MERIDIAN —     Neshoba Central head softball coach refers Trae Embry refers to the East Central region of the state as “softball heaven.”

    After three local teams took home state championships in 2012, few can argue with him. This year, Embry’s Rockets finished the season ranked No. 1 in the state as the Class 5A slow-pitch state champions. The area also saw the Southeast Lauderdale take home the 3A slow-pitch crown, as well as Clarkdale fast-pitch winning the 2A title in the spring.

    “There is nothing like this area,” Embry said. “Every night you play, the other team can beat you. There are just so many teams with talent. Almost every team we played had an excellent year.”

Neshoba Central

    In his first year as head coach, Embry did not know what to expect from his team. He knew they had talent, but up against a daunting schedule, he would need to see how they performed before passing any judgment.

    The Rockets took some time to gel early on, losing to Quitman and then Newton County early in the season. Neshoba Central would even lose Mallory Tucker on Sept. 11 in the game against New Hope, when the starting pitcher tore ligaments on the top of her foot causing her to miss the remainder of the season.

     In need of a new pitcher and some momentum to their season, the Rockets turned to Mesha Jimmie to fill the void.

    “From that point when Tucker got hurt, we really didn’t know what we were going to do,” Embry said. “The next week, I made a decision to go with Mesha. Mesha ended up going 14-1 on the mound for us.”

    The Rockets would continue to improve going 27-5, including the state championship series, were they swept Wayne county 13-6, 2-1 to take home the 5A crown. The win propelled Neshoba Central to No. 1 in the state in the final Jackson Clarion-Ledger rankings. With only two departing seniors from this year’s team, Embry said he expects to be right in the thick of things come next season as well.

    “I want to do it again,” Embry said. “If we didn’t have high expectation, then I am in the wrong profession. When we started, I expected to win. I would think, heading into next year, we’d have high expectations with the team we have.”

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