The Neshoba Central softball powerhouse continues to bring home trophies.
The Rockets earned their fifth consecutive state championship by topping Picayune 6-2 Friday to sweep the Class 5A title series at Freedom Ridge Park.
Super sophomore Aspen Wesley sparked Neshoba Central at the plate with a second-inning solo homer and went the distance in the pitcher's circle despite dealing with a blister. She limited Picayune to two runs on four hits, striking out 10 and walking four.
“She was struggling with a blister on her finger and we knew that coming in,” Neshoba Central coach Trae Embry said. “She's gritty. She's going to dig down, find a way. That what we preached all year. That's what she did.”
Picayune senior Megan Dudenhefer, who knocked in the first run of the game for the Maroon Tide, went the distance in a losing effort. She gave up six hits, struck out five and walked two.
Dudenhefer finished the season with a record of 21-5.
“Megan had two great games,” Picayune coach Kristi Mitchell said. “Her confidence soared this year. She did a lot for this program. She's kept her composure through out the season. She's given us a chance. Games in the past, we've been able to push runs across. It just didn't go our way today.”
Dudenhefer struck out the first two batters of the third, but a walk, an error, a Tori Henderson single and a hit by pitch allowed Neshoba Central to get a pair of runs across in the inning.
Neshoba Central (30-3) added two more runs in the fourth on an RBI single by Terly Grisham and a sac bunt RBI by Kalee Routh.
Picayune finally had an answered in the fourth when Alyssa Pinero lead off the inning with a double to left center. She was brought home on a single to right field by the next batter up, Dudenhefer.
Elizabeth Taggard walked to put two on with none out, but Marissa McDonald hit into a fielder's choice, Madyson Turnage struck out and McDonald was thrown out at second while trying to steal to end the inning.
“We had our opportunities,” Mitchell said. “We knew going into it that we had to get some runners on and push those runs across the plate. We did that a couple of times, but we didn't get the big hit we needed to.”
Picayune's other run came on an RBI single by McDonald in the sixth inning.
Pinero was the lone Picayune player with multiple hits. She went 2-for-2 with a pair of runs scored.
The Maroon Tide, who were seeking the first state title in program history, finished the season with a record of 22-10-1.
“Everybody gave it everything they had,” Dudenhefer said. “Even though we came up short, it was a great season.”