Neshoba Central players get ready to congratulate Aspen Wesley after her home run against Pearl River Central in the Class 5A State Fast-pitch softball championship game on Friday at Mississippi State.
Neshoba Central players get ready to congratulate Aspen Wesley after her home run against Pearl River Central in the Class 5A State Fast-pitch softball championship game on Friday at Mississippi State.
STARKVILLE - The Neshoba Central Lady Rockets completed an undefeated season Friday night as they beat Pearl River Central 6-2 in the second game of the Class 5A fast-pitch softball state playoffs championship series.

The Lady Rockets won the first game of the series 3-0 on Thursday night. The Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A series was held here on the Mississippi State University campus. (The class 1A and 3A championships were also played here while the Class 2A, 4A and 6A championship were held at the University of Southern Mississippi.)

This is the sixth year in a row for the Lady Rockets to win the fast-pitch softball state championship and the eighth in school history. Added with six slow-pitch state championships, the Neshoba Central program under head coach Trae Embry has won 12 straight state championships over the past six years.

The Lady Rockets are ranked No. 1 in the nation according to the most recent USA Today poll.

And with all that, this was the first Lady Rocket team in the history of the program to go undefeated. The 2015 and 2016 teams lost only one game.

“All the championship seasons are special but different in their way,” Coach Embry said. “It’s really not fair to compare them.

“But to go undefeated is really special. You dream about going undefeated but we never start out saying we are going undefeated. Now that it is over, going undefeated made for a really special season,” Embry said.

Junior Aspen Wesley was the winning pitcher in both games. She struck out 18 batters and allowed only two hits in the first game. She fanned 13 batters and allowed only four hits and two earned runs in the second game. The Lady Rockets smacked 10 hits in each game.

“We were really playing game to game,” Coach Embry said. “We came in knowing they would play good defense. Thursday night, Aspen really dominated the game and we had some big hits with two outs that scored runs.

“They put more balls in play Friday. They hit a home run to tie the game. Good teams respond and find a way to win and that’s what we did. We played two hard-fought games and were fortunate enough to come out on top. Pearl River Central was 26-5 and had a tremendous year. We beat a good team,” Embry said.

 

Game one

Lady Rockets 3

Pearl River Central 0

Both teams came ready to play with pitching and defense dominating the first 4 ½ innings.

In the bottom of the fourth, Elleigh Willis knocked in a run with a single to give the Lady Rockets a 1-0 lead.

In the next inning, Sindle Williams belted a two-run homer to give the Lady Rockets a 3-0 lead.

Wesley claimed the pitching victory while Jade Latham took the loss for the Lady Blue Devils. Latham struck out six while allowing 10 hits and three earned runs.

Rivers Gray hit a double and a single for the Lady Rockets. Madalyn Thompson hit a double while Tenly Grisham and Alex Bowen both finished with two hits. Wesley also hit a single.

Madison Gower and Madi Glidewell both hit a single for the Lady Blue Devils.

 

Game two

Lady Rockets 6

Pearl River Central 2

The teams exchanged home runs in the second inning.

Sindle Williams led off the top half of the inning with a solo shot to put her team up 1-0. But then Shelby Archer connected on a home run for the Lady Blue Devils in the bottom half of the inning and the score was tied at 1-1.

After a scoreless third inning, Tori Henderson got on base with a single to lead off the top of the fourth. Wesley followed and hit a home run that put her team up 3-1.

Neshoba Central added two runs in the top of the fifth. Tenly Grisham led off with a double. She scored when Henderson brought her home with a double. Wesley then singled to bring Henderson in, and the Lady Rockets led 5-1.

Pearl River Central scored in the bottom of the fifth when Brienne Penton knocked in a run with a triple, cutting Neshoba Central’s lead to 5-2.

The final run came in the top of the first. Tenly Grisham got on with a fielder’s choice.  She stole second and third and then scored on Rivers Gray’s single.

Wesley was the winning pitcher while Latham took the loss. Latham pitched 4.2 innings, striking out six while giving up seven hits and three earned runs. Jayden Davis pitched 2.1 innings in relief, allowing three hits and one earned run.

Wesley finished with a home run, a single and three RBIs while Williams hit a home run, a single and one RBI. Grisham and Henderson both hit a triple and a single and both scored two runs. Gray and Bowen both finished with a single.

Archer led her team with a home run and a single while Penton hit a triple. Glidewell hit a single for the Lady Blue Devils.

Pearl River Central finished the season with a 26-7 record. They are the South State Class 5A champions.