Rockets roll to 5A title with sweep
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 1:00 AM
If there was any question as to who has the best high school fast-pitch softball team in the state, the Lady Rockets should have clearly provided the answer over the weekend.
Hailey Lunderman was a terror at the plate against the Wayne County Lady War Eagles with a triple and home run in game one.
Neshoba Central beat Wayne County 10-0 on Friday and 14-1 on Saturday to sweep the best-of-three series played at Freedom Ridge Park in Ridgeland on Friday to claim the MHSAA Class 5A State Fast-Pitch Softball Championship.
"A lot of teams doubt us and don't believe we are the best so we just try to leave no doubt that we are the best," said Neshoba Central senior Katlyn Duke.
Consider the point proven and all doubt removed.
"This is what we set out to do," said Neshoba Central head coach Trae Embry. "We wanted to be here and win this game."
NCHS seventh-grader Aspen Wesley was dominant on the mound in the two-game sweep, tossing a pair of five-inning no-hitters, while striking out 10 hitters on Friday and 13 more on Saturday.
"I feel good about the way I pitched," she said. "I'm pretty happy with it."
The win closed out Neshoba Central's record at 32-2, but more importantly gave the Lady Rockets their second consecutive 5A Fast-Pitch State Championship. Pair those titles with two slow-pitch championships won over the past two seasons and you have domination of a sport.
While there is no official overall champion declared, Neshoba Central went into the championship weekend as the No. 1 ranked team in the state according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. Nothing that happened at Freedom Ridge over the weekend changed that impression.
After a scoreless first inning on Friday, the Lady Rockets scored two runs in each of the second and third innings and then added three spots in the fourth and fifth innings on the way to the 10-0 win.
Neshoba Central had seven hits in the game, while Wayne County made five errors.
Ali Pike blasted a homer for Neshoba in the game, while Hailey Lunderman ripped a double and a single. Also picking up hits for the winners were Madalyn McMahon, Kayla McKinion, Kaila Willis, and Wesley.
Neshoba Central wasted little time in removing any suspense that may have been circulating around Saturday's final game. After scoring twice in the first inning thanks to a two-run single by Kayla Robertson, the Lady Rockets scored eight in the second to put the 14-1 win away early.
The first seven batters that came to the plate in the second inning scored for Neshoba, while the only out recorded in the first 10 batters was when a Wayne County outfielder made an outstanding catch to rob Pike of her second homer of the weekend. The big blow in the inning was a three-run homer by Hannah Williams.
Robertson and Duke led Neshoba Central's 15-hit attack in the game with three hits each. Robertson bashed a pair of doubles, while Duke had one. The Lady Rockets had six doubles in the game with Taylor Harrison, Kaila Willis and Hannah Hall also cranking out two-baggers.
Lunderman and Wesley had two hits each for the winners, while Harrison, Willis, Hall, Meshay Jimmie and Williams picked up one each.
After receiving a first-round bye in the MHSAA 5A Playoffs, the Lady Rockets dispatched Oxford easily by the scores of 24-2 and 20-1 in round two. Round three was the toughest challenge for Neshoba Central, as the Lady Rockets won 3-0 and 8-2 over Lake Cormorant, before sweeping New Hope 10-1 and 9-2 to win the North State title.
Neshoba Central was 8-0 in the playoffs, while outscoring its opponents a whopping 98-9.