Neera Bell

Choctaw Central’s Neera Bell wipes her mouth with her jersey after reaching third during the Lady Warriors’ game against Neshoba Central Thursday at Choctaw Central.

CHOCTAW — Ahnaya Williams came to the plate with two runners on and two outs, her team leading 15-6 in the bottom of the fifth.

Slow-pitch rules in MHSAA say once a team gets a 10-run lead after five complete innings, the game is called. Still, the No. 2 hitter for Choctaw Central didn’t realize driving in a run would lead to the game against Neshoba Central being called.

A line drive by Williams to left field drove in Leia Phillips and Melanian Jimmie, giving Choctaw Central a 17-6 win at home against the Lady Rockets Thursday evening. The hit ended up being a triple, and after making it to third, Williams was confused at first why her coaches and teammates were so excited.

“I didn’t know it was ball game until she screamed at me,” Williams said, referring to Lady Warriors head coach Mercedes Cotton. “I didn’t realize until everyone rushed up to me.”

The walkoff triple capped off a 2-for-4 night at the plate for Williams, who also doubled earlier in the game. It improved the Lady Warriors to 7-4 on the season, and Cotton said it was a game her players badly wanted to win.

“That was a really big win,” Cotton said. “We had been waiting for this game. (Wednesday) at practice, everybody was pumped, and (Thursday) after school, they were excited. The adrenaline was just there. Every play they made, it was beautiful.”

Cotton said she was proud of Williams’ approach in that final at-bat.

“All game long, she was trying to place it so hard,” Cotton explained. “I told her, ‘Don’t worry about trying to place it. Just hit the ball and see where it goes — and make sure you run.’ She’s always been one of our life savers. She’s really quiet, but she’s always the one who’s trying to work harder than the rest.”

The Lady Warriors took a 5-2 lead through one inning and added on six more runs in the bottom of the third. Neshoba Central scored a run in the top of the fourth to make it 11-3, but Choctaw Central scored two more times in the bottom of the frame to go ahead 13-3. A scoreless top of the fifth would have triggered the mercy rule, but the Lady Rockets plated three runs in the frame, forcing the Lady Warriors to score four in the bottom of the fifth to seal the win.

Choctaw Central finished with 17 hits and two walks, and Cotton said she the work the players did on their hitting the day before paid off during Thursday’s game.

“We had to adjust,” Cotton said. “A lot of us were still in the fast-pitch motion, and (Wednesday), we had to really, really, really work on our hitting, trying to get into that slow, smooth swing, and it worked.”

Phillips was 4-for-4 with a double and two RBIs in the leadoff spot for Choctaw Central, and Tia’rain Saunders hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning. Maiya Joe went 2-for-3 with a home run, and Ciji Vaughn also hit a home run for the Lady Warriors. Neera Bell and Tori Isaac both finished 2-for-3, and Isaac doubled for Choctaw Central as well. Tayla Willis finished 3-for-3.

For Neshoba Central, Elleigh Willis and Hamaya Fielder were both 2-for-3 with a double each, and Willis also had a home run. 

Jimmie got the win for the Lady Warriors, pitching five innings and giving up six runs, five earned, on 10 hits and two walks. Willis took the loss, surrendering 17 runs, 11 earned.

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