GULFPORT - West Harrison didn't need to break out the rally bats for a second day in a row Saturday.
One night after the Lady Hurricanes had to scramble late to earn a win in the series opener at Pearl River Central, West Harrison's softball squad avoided disaster early and then scratched across a couple runs late to repeat as Class 5A South State champs with a 4-0 win.
Deadlocked 0-0 through four innings, West Harrison broke through in the fifth. Megan Sexton led off the frame on third base after her high fly ball to left field was lost in the sun and then booted.
Sexton's sister, Kristen Sexton, then came through for WHHS with a single up the middle.
"Kristen hit the ball well to get the run," WHHS coach Brittany Rogers said. "We felt a little easier after that."
West Harrison (19-14) tacked on three more runs in the sixth. Relief pitcher Stephanie Necaise stroked a one-out double to left field. After Braxon Dewitt, who started the game in the circle, walked, Megan Sexton scored courtesy runners Kayla Ladner and Layne Turan on a double to left field.
Kristen Sexton tacked on an insurance run with another single.
Even with the four-run lead heading into the final frame, West Harrison knew it couldn't relax. WHHS trailed 3-1 heading into the seventh Friday and had to duke it out with the Lady Blue Devils (20-11) to come away with the Game 1 win.
"They came in in the bottom of the seventh and got some runs as well," Rogers said of Friday night's 6-3 win. "They can hit."
Necaise, who relieved Dewitt, retired the visitors in order in the seventh to preserve the Game 2 victory.
Necaise finished with four strikeouts in the win. Dewitt pitched well early despite earning a no decision.
"She doesn't throw as hard as Steph, but she hits her spots and has a nice little drop ball," Rogers said.
Pearl River Central had several chances early Saturday but were unable to cash in. The visiting Lady Blue Devils' Megan Gower led off the game with a double, but West Harrison recorded three straight outs to avoid damage.
PRC loaded the bases in the second only to pop out foul to miss another big inning.
The visitors tried to catch West Harrison off guard in the fourth with a delayed double steal. The Lady Hurricanes noticed Shelby Archer racing home, cutting off the throw to second and whipping the ball to catcher Bailey Street just in time to tag Archer before she slid across the plate.
"We had some little mistakes early and sometimes those mistakes don't seem big at the time but really are important later," PRC coach Tony LaBella said. "There were some situations where we didn't do the little things we need to to win."
Reaching South State was an accomplishment for a program that won just one game in 2013. Still the sweep was disappointing for the Lady Blue Devils.
"I'm not going to say we were just glad to get here because we're not," LaBella said. "They're good and always here (in South State) but we wanted to win. We weren't just happy to get to the dance."
The reigning three-time 5A champs await the Lady Canes in a rematch of last year's state championship.
"It's definitely going to be a tough road. We know what's coming," Rogers said of Neshoba Central, which hasn't lost since March 19. "We know what's there and what they've got. They know what we have."
The state championship series are set to open Thursday in Ridgeland.