High School Sports

THREE-PEAT: Harrison Central softball rolls to Class 6A state title

RIDGELAND -- With screams of "Three-peat!" ringing out, an elated Harrison Central softball team piled onto the bus back to Lyman Friday afternoon.

After battling through a pair of three-game series against Madison Central the last two years, the Red Rebelettes made it look easy this week at Freedom Ridge Park with a 7-1 win over South Panola to clinch the 2-0 series sweep and the program's third consecutive Class 6A state title.

It was almost businesslike in the way that the Red Rebelettes (28-4) dispatched of the Lady Tigers by a combined score of 21-4 over two games.

"This year, it's like second nature to us," Harrison Central senior Madison Burge said. "We knew what we had to do. We had a lot of confidence. I don't think we doubted ourselves at all this year."

Harrison Central thoroughly enjoyed their state championship victory on Friday. The Red Rebelettes formed a pile in the pitcher's circle following the final out, rushed forward to grab the trophy and held a celebratory dance-off.

Harrison Central junior Amari Ramsey was just as thrilled as the rest of her teammates, and for good reason. The talented third baseman hit a two-run home run in the first inning to help spark her team to the convincing win.

Ramsey's smile turned to tears when asked what this year's group of seniors meant to the program.

"They meant a lot," Ramsey said before she began to struggle for words.

Burge, Simone McKinney and Megan Hammontree all suited up as Red Rebelettes for the final time on Friday and they did so in triumphant fashion. All three had a hand in an amazing run of three straight state titles.

Burge was the first one to get her hands on the title trophy when the team surged forward to grab hold of their reward.

"It feels really good," Burge said. "I always wanted to stay out on top, finish what our other seniors have done. I'm glad I finally got to do that."

After cruising to a pair of wins, Harrison Central coach Jimmy Parker was stunned at how smooth the series was.

"We've never had it easy up here," Parker said. "This (game) stayed close to the end. I was thankful we got separation at the end to take the heat off me, not the kids."

South Panola (26-5) appeared to finally grab some momentum in the series in the first inning when Ali Cummins came up with a two-out RBI single for the early 1-0 lead.

Harrison Central answered quickly in the bottom of the first to go up 3-1 behind an RBI single by Burge and a two-run home run by Ramsey over the left field fence.

There was little doubt that the ball would clear the fence when Ramsey made contact.

"I was just like, I've got to get something started and I've got to score runs in the first inning," Ramsey said. "I sat there, I relaxed and there it was."

McKinney, who scored a pair of runs, had three hits to lead a 10-hit effort by the Red Rebelettes.

Burge was the winning pitcher in game one Thursday night, but she gave way to sophomore Kristen Cade on Friday.

Cade showed again that she's ready to fill the shoes of Burge in 2017. After giving up a run on a pair of hits in the first inning, she recovered to hold South Panola to a single run on four hits. Cade struck out three and walked only one.

"We trusted her all the way," Parker said. "Madison trusts her as a senior. She's done good for us all year, giving us a one-two punch. She's not the No. 2. She's pitched in big games for us. The more she pitches, the less nervous she gets."

Cade did a good job of frustrating a South Panola team that likes to bunt and slap the ball.

"To the slappers, we threw a lot of outside pitches to make sure they didn't touch it," Cade said.

Burge finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs. McKinney and Zharia Richardson also knocked in runs for Harrison Central.

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