Last month, the Neshoba Central Lady Rockets finished their fast-pitch softball season ranked No. 1 in the nation according to USA Today.

Earlier this week, Lady Rockets head coach Trae Embry was named National Softball Coach of the Year by USA Today.

“It was a surprise,” Embry said. “I didn’t know anything about it until Monday morning. It is definitely a great honor. But as I have said before, nothing happens unless you have great players, great assistant coaches and the support from your administration, families and supporters.”

Embry got into softball coaching when he took the slow-pitch softball coaching position at Eupora in 2000. Two years later, he started the fast-pitch program at Eupora. There, his 2005 and 2007 slow-pitch teams and his 2005, 2006 and 2007 fast-pitch teams won state championships.

Last season, Embry led the Lady Rockets to their sixth consecutive Class 5A fast-pitch softball championship, finishing with a 34-0 record. Since leaving Eupora and taking over the Neshoba Central softball program in 2012, Embry’s teams have won 12 straight state championships – six in fast-pitch and six in slow-pitch. While at Neshoba Central, his teams have gone 183-21 in slow-pitch and 185-13 in fast-pitch.

During the slow-pitch season last fall, Embry earned his 800th career coaching victory. Following the fast-pitch season, his combined coaching record stands at 841-176

And there is more to come.

On Friday, Embry will be recognized by the Mississippi Association of Coaches as the Mississippi Slow-pitch Softball Coach of the Year. Next Wednesday, he is in contention to be named as the National High School Athletic Coaches Association’s “National Coach of the Year” in the sport of softball. He will leave Saturday to travel to Sioux Falls, S.D., to attend the association’s national banquet. He is one of eight finalists being considered for the award.

Embry was nominated for the award by his peers in the Mississippi Association of Coaches.

“Each of the finalists will meet with the committee in a round-table discussion,” Embry said. “My time will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. The banquet will be that night.

“I’m going to enjoy the convention,” Embry said. “If I win, it will be a great honor. If I don’t, it was an honor to be considered as one of the final eight finalists.

“Again, our success has come because of the dedication and hard work of a lot of people. This season, our girls wanted to go undefeated. They put in the work and remained hungry.”