HATTIESBURG — The last decade of Class 5A softball in Mississippi has been dominated by one team: Neshoba Central. The Rockets entered Wednesday one win away from claiming their ninth consecutive state title after cruising to a 7-0 victory over East Central (23-9) on Tuesday. They left little in doubt early in Game 2.
Neshoba Central used a five-run first inning to remain the most dominant team in the state with a 14-4 victory at the Southern Miss Softball Complex. The Rockets (31-3) finished undefeated last season and are 96-5 over the last three seasons.
"It's surreal," Coach Zachary Sanders said. "You don't think of things like this happening. As young as we were this year, you think if things happen for us and everybody stays healthy, we got a chance to make a run for it next year."
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Sophomore Mya Willis started a string of three consecutive RBI hits for Neshoba Central in the first inning. Her RBI single was followed by a two-RBI single from Mauhree Jones and an RBI triple from eighth grader Miley Thomas to take a 5-0 lead. Willis and Jones combined for nine RBIs.
East Central answered in the fourth with RBI singles from Lauren Brooks and Kailee Lawson to cut the lead to 10-4 However, Neshoba Central would respond. The Rockets scored three runs in the fourth and Jones finished the game with a two-RBI single down the right-field line in the fifth.
The victory secured a third state championship for Ole Miss signee Tenly Grisham. The senior went 2-for-3 with a walk in Game 2.
"These girls have worked so hard since August and the hard working paying off showed today," Grisham said. "I couldn't be any more proud.
"Continuing the streak has meant the world and I couldn't be happier."
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Freshman Lanayah Henry was named series MVP after allowing 10 hits and four earned runs along with six strikeouts in 12 innings. Henry also went 2-for-4 with a triple in Game 1.
"(The streak) means everything to me," Henry said. "We just got to keep it going."
The Rockets have claimed two state titles this year. Neshoba Central girls basketball went 33-0 and defeated Columbus 49-41 for the state championship on March 4.
"All of our female athletes, its a group that doesn't know anything about losing," Sanders said. "They hate to lose and they love to win."
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Neshoba Central beats East Central, wins 9th straight 5A title