Sports

George County falls short in 5A-6A slow-pitch finals

George County coach Keith Essary talks with the Lady Rebels between innings against Neshoba Central at the state slow-pitch softball championships on Saturday in Ridgeland.
George County coach Keith Essary talks with the Lady Rebels between innings against Neshoba Central at the state slow-pitch softball championships on Saturday in Ridgeland. Special to the Sun Herald

The destiny continues for Neshoba Central, but it came in dramatic fashion.

Kaylee Routh’s walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning of Game 2 lifted the Lady Rockets past George County 18-17 to claim the Class 6A/5A state championship in slow-pitch softball at Freedom Ridge Park on Saturday.

Neshoba Central (28-7) swept the best-of-three series. The Lady Rockets won their fourth straight Class 6A/5A state title, fifth state championship in a row and fifth state title in school history.

“Where we were in our order coming to bat, I felt real good about us scoring runs,” said Neshoba Central coach Trae Embry. “For Kaylee, what a way to end your slow-pitch career with a walk-off home run for the state championship.”

With Neshoba Central leading 15-9 heading to the top of the seventh inning, George County (25-10) scored eight runs on nine hits to take a 17-15 lead heading to the bottom of seventh.

Alyssa Wilkinson had a leadoff walk in the bottom of seventh and McKenzie Barnett singled before Routh homered to right- center field on the second pitch.

Routh, Barnett and Sindle Williams each had three hits to lead Neshoba Central. Hallie Billie had two hits, including a two-run home run in the fifth to tie the game at 9. Tori Henderson and Tenly Grisham also had two hits each for the Lady Rockets.

“The seniors this year have really stepped up and been leaders and made plays when we needed,” Embry said. “We’ve been through a lot this year and it’s just a testament to the girls of how hard they worked.”

Megan Morse had three hits and scored two runs to lead George County. Kaitlyn Passeau had a three-run home run that gave the Lady Rebels a 9-5 lead in the fifth inning.

“We’ve talked all year about not giving up and they fought hard to get back and take the lead,” said George County coach Keith Essary. “It sucks to lose on a walkoff, but that’s a great Neshoba Central team. The best thing is we can learn the taste of it now losing in a state title series and build off that moving forward.”

Neshoba Central 12, George County 1: Hailey Williams had three hits, including two doubles, and scored three runs to lead the Lady Rockets past the Lady Rebels in Game 1.

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