Three local teams have made it to the finals of the Mississippi High School Activities Association’s Fast-pitch Softball tournaments.

Neshoba Central, Philadelphia and Choctaw Central are all one of the last two teams remaining in their respective classifications.

“I think for one county to have three teams in the state finals says a lot about the level of competition we have in this area,” Neshoba Central coach Trae Embry said Monday night. “And right down the road, Newton County is playing for the Class 4A championship. Teams around here don’t have to travel far to find good competition.”

“This is exciting and good for the community, Philadelphia Coach David Frey said. “Since it started, this area has been known for good softball. It would nice if we all three could win it.”

While Embry is in his seventh season at Neshoba Central, Choctaw Central and Philadelphia are being coached by first-year coaches. Mercedes Cotton, a graduate of Choctaw Central and a former softball standout at the school, has her team in the Class 3A finals. Coach Frey is doing double duty this year at Philadelphia High School as fast-pitch softball and head football coach. While coaching the Lady Tornadoes to the Class 2A finals, he is also running spring training for the football team.

“I am very busy,” Frey said. “It has been really non-stop. It is hard but I have good help with my softball assistants, Ryan McTaggart and Bethanie Hunter. If it wasn’t for those two, I would be struggling. They do a lot.”

The Class 1A, 3A and 5A title series will be held at the University of Southern Mississippi while the Class 2A, 4A and 6A finals will be held at Mississippi State University. Weather permitting, the first games will be played Thursday; the second games on Friday, and the third games, if needed, will be played Saturday.

The Lady Rockets, now 31-2, will be seeking their seventh straight state championship in the Class 5A finals against Wayne County. The Lady Rockets wrapped up the North State Class 5A championship with a two-game sweep of Lafayette. The first game will start at 6:30 p.m.



Choctaw Central stands at 16-16 as the take on South Pontotoc in the Class 3A finals. The Lady Warriors defeated Raleigh for the South State title. The Lady Warriors dropped the first game to Raleigh and then came back to win two games on Monday. The first game of their series with South Pontotoc starts for 4 p.m.

“Our girls have worked very hard for this,” Coach Cotton said. “Ten years ago (when she was a student at Choctaw Central), I would have never thought any of this would have happened. Our girls have come a long way.”

Philadelphia will take on Enterprise, another East Mississippi team with the first game set to start at 1:30 p.m. The Lady Tornadoes swept Eupora to win the Class 2A North State championship.