Philadelphia’s Kameron Moore applies a tag to an Eupora baserunner.
Philadelphia’s Kameron Moore applies a tag to an Eupora baserunner.
The Philadelphia Lady Tornadoes returned to Mississippi High School Activities Association’s fast-pitch championship finals for the first time since 2016 Monday as the completed a sweep of Eupora to claim the North State Class 2A championship.

The Lady Tornadoes won the first game 5-2 last Thursday. After a weekend of rain, they came back to defeat Eupora 5-1.

The Lady Tornadoes will play Enterprise for the Class 2A state championship. Depending on the weather, the first game will be held Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at Mississippi State University. Game two is slated for Friday; game three, if necessary, will be played Saturday.

The Lady Tornadoes stand at 17-4 while Enterprise comes in with a 26-3 record according to Max Preps. The Lady Bulldogs won the South State championship by defeating Taylorsville in two games, 10-0 and 6-1.

This has been an unusual year for the Lady Tornadoes softball. Their head coach, David Frey, is also the head football coach and has been doing double duty the last few weeks, running spring training while coaching the softball team. Also, the season got off to a wet start with the field at Burnside Park being under water from the Pearl River for most of February and part of March.

But when the Lady Tornadoes finally did start playing, they were hard to beat.

“They love softball and work hard,” said Coach Frey. “There was adversity at the first of the year but the girls want to win. They believe in themselves and knew they could play for a state championship.

“I have never coached softball before but I have enjoyed it. The last few weeks, I do football until 4 p.m. and then move to softball. I have two great assistant coaches who ran practice until I got there.”

Fry believes his team’s chances are good in the championship series.

“If we play defense, we have a good chance of winning,” Fry said. “Making it to the state finals means a lot. We were expected to go deep. Making it to state was the ultimate goal.”

Nia Luckett was the winning pitcher in both of the North State games. Luckett has tasted both victory and defeat in state championship finals.



In 2015 as a seventh grader, she pitched the Lady Tornadoes past Mooreville in a memorable series. Philadelphia was in the Class 3A classification then.  Mooreville won the first game and was ahead 9-3 at one point in game two. Luckett stayed on the mound and her team rallied to win game two. They then took game three with 5-3 victory.

The Lady Tornadoes faced Mooreville again the 2016 finals but this time, the Lady Troopers won it in two games.

The Lady Tornadoes were in the thick of things the next two seasons. In 2017, Philadelphia lost in the third round of the playoffs to rival St. Patrick, two games to one. Last year, the Lady Tornadoes were one game away from making it to the state finals. In the third game of the North State finals, Luckett suffered a leg injury that took her out of the game. Luckett was the team’s only pitcher and East Union went on to advance to state. Luckett said the Lady Tornadoes have some unfinished business this year.

“I believe we would have won the state championship if I hadn’t got hurt,” Luckett said. “We are returning to the state championship series this year. We have worked hard and I think we are going to win it.”    

 

Lady Tornadoes 5

Eupora 2

The Lady Tornadoes took the lead and held on as they defeated Eupora on the Lady Eagles’ field.

Philadelphia scored three in the first, one in the third and one in the fifth. The Lady Eagles scored two in the third.

Luckett had nine strike outs.

Kam Moore led the Lady Tornadoes with a double in the first inning that brought in two runs. She stole third and scored.

“We really didn’t hit the ball well in the first game but we played very good defense and Nia really pitched well,” Frey said.

 

Lady Tornadoes 5

Eupora 2

The Lady Tornadoes scattered their runs across five innings while holding on.

Luckett led off and scored in the first inning on an error. In the second inning, N’Drah Tanksley hit a triple and then scored on Tatyanna Boatner’s field’s choice to give the Lady Tornadoes a 2-0 lead.

Eupora scored in the top of the third, cutting Philadelphia’s lead to 2-1. But the Lady Tornadoes answered with two runs in the bottom of the third. Zharia Jordon scored on an error and Tyesha Cole knocked in Makayla Evans, giving the Lady Tornadoes a 4-1 lead.

Emma Taylor scored in the fourth inning and Moore scored in the sixth,

Cole, a senior who has signed to play softball at Jones College next fall, said she is looking forward.

“We have three coaches who have worked hard with us,” Cole said. “We have played on wet fields this year. Now we are going from the swamps to an SEC stadium. I have always wanted to do that.”

Cole also played in the earlier championship games. Last summer, she played in the Mississippi All-Star fast-pitch games, and in the slow-pitch all-star games this past fall where she was the MVP for her team.

“The main thing we have to do is stay focused this week,” Cole said. “We have a chance to win a state championship. We have to take care of business for two more games.”