RIDGELAND – Neshoba Central freshman ace Aspen Wesley held West Harrison scoreless for a total of 14 innings to give the Lady Rockets a two-game sweep and the Class 5A softball state title.
After being one-hit Thursday night, the West Harrison hitters fared a little better with three hits on Friday, but it was still well short of what was needed to hang with a talented Neshoba Central squad.
Neshoba Central topped West Harrison 6-0 Friday night in a game that featured a 9:52 p.m. first pitch at Freedom Ridge Park. The Lady Rockets won Friday's game, 2-0.
It marked the second consecutive season that West Harrison has been swept in the Class 5A state title series by Neshoba Central, which has won the state title in four consecutive seasons.
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“The Wesley kid is good,” West Harrison coach Brittany Rogers said. “We came in with a game plan, but we did not put our game plan into play until toward the end. It was too late then.”
Rogers also pointed to a loss of focus in the field that contributed to a total of four errors by the Lady Hurricanes (19-16).
Wesley struck out eight of the first nine batters she faced and finished with 11 strikeouts while walking none in seven innings.
West Harrison's first hit didn't come until Rebecca Cuevas singled to lead off the fifth inning. Wesley followed that up with a strikeout and a 1-6-3 double play to quickly end the threat.
Wesley (23-1) had faced the minimum number of batters until Megan Sexton singled with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.
“Aspen was remarkable,” Neshoba Central coach Trae Embry said. “She, in my opinion, is hands down the best pitcher in the state of Mississippi. If you go on stats, you're not going to find any stats better than hers. Her ERA was 0.26 and she's given up only five earned runs all year. That speaks volumes for her. She's great. We're lucky to have her and we've got her three more years.”
Neshoba Central took an early 1-0 lead on a one-out RBI single by three-hole hitter Rivers Gray in the top of the first.
The Rockets pushed their lead to 2-0 when Makenzie Barnett hit a leadoff home run to straightaway centerfield in the fourth inning.
Neshoba Central put the game out of reach in the seventh when Madalyn McMahon hit a grand slam to set the final score at 6-0.
West Harrison senior pitcher Stephanie Necaise (14-6) threw well all series, but never got run the run support.
She gave up four earned runs on five hits, struck out four and walked none Friday.
“It's a bittersweet moment,” Rogers said. “She has been with me since seventh grade. I'm going to miss her. She's gotten so much better. Her progress is amazing. Her composure on the mound is amazing and I'm just really proud of her.”
West Harrison managed to get a hit in each of the final three innings of the game, but it never found a way to get a run across against a Neshoba Central team that finishes with a record of 27-1.
The only loss that Neshoba Central suffered this season was to Class 6A runner-up South Panola.