Tia’Rain Saunders makes contact during an at bat for the South team in the 1A-2A-3A all-star game which was held this past weekend at Jones College in Ellisville.
Tia’Rain Saunders makes contact during an at bat for the South team in the 1A-2A-3A all-star game which was held this past weekend at Jones College in Ellisville.
Choctaw Central’s Tia’Rain Saunders had two things in mind when she reported to all-star practice last week. Saunders was a member of the South Class 1A-2A-3A team in the annual Mississippi Association of Coaches All-Star games which were played at Jones College in Ellisville.

Her team lost the first game 5-1 on Friday but came back to win game two 7-6 on Saturday. Saunders played in most of both games. She got a hit in game one and made some big defensive plays, especially in the seventh inning of the first when she put two runners out.

Players in these all-star games are some of the top upcoming senior players in the state for the next school year.

Saunders said while it wasn’t the same as playing with her Choctaw Central teammates, she enjoyed meeting girls from teams that she had played against. Also, she was getting a preview of the Jones College campus which she plans to attend after high school.

“I am committing to Jones,” said Saunders. “I’m glad I was able to come and get a look at the campus and to get a little preview.”

Saunders plays both basketball and softball at Choctaw Central. During her junior year, both teams played and made it to the state playoffs. But the basketball team lost in the semifinals in Jackson and the softball teams made it to the finals before losing the third game 3-1 to South Pontotoc in the championship series.

Saunders said she remembers both losses, and playing in the all-star game didn’t make her feel any better about it. She said she and her teammates have some unfinished business during her senior season.

“Both losses in basketball and softball are going to make me and my teammates grind even harder this year,” Saunders said. “We work hard to prepare for both seasons. This summer, I will be playing tribal softball and we’ll play a tough summer league schedule in basketball against the best teams.

“In practice before basketball season, we bump, push and shove and try to knock people down so we can get tougher,” Saunders said. “In softball, if we don’t practice well, we run afterwards. My goal is to win a state championship in basketball and softball. That’s what we are working for.”

Saunders said she wasn’t concerned that Choctaw Central is moving up to 4A.

“We’ll adjust,” she said.

Saunders said she is looking forward to her senior year and plans to focus on her grades. Her favorite courses are biology and other sciences.

“I make all A’s and B’s,” she said. “This year, I am taking the advanced courses. I am looking to go into the medical field, maybe in nursing.”

How about going after a medical degree?

“I’ve thought about that, too,” Saunders said.

Saunders was joined by her coach, Mercedes Cotton during player introductions.

Cotton admitted she was feeling a little deja vu. When she played softball at Choctaw Central not that many years ago, she was selected to play in the slow-pitch all-star game.

“Yes, this kind of made me feel a little older,” Cotton said. “Especially with Tia playing in the all-star game. Tia was there with us when I was playing. Her sister was on the team. She was little then but she was always in the dugout or running around on the field. Now she is here as a player.”

Cotton said she was proud of the person Saunders has become.

“She has a great personality and really brings it out when she is on the field,” Cotton said. “She is one of our main leaders on the field and the girls really look up to her. When we need someone to step up and get a big hit or make a play, I can count on her.”


4A-5A-6A games

The North and South teams split their games in the 4A-5A-6A category.

The North won the first game 5-1 and the South won game two 5-2.