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Neshoba among top teams

By By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
Aug. 14, 2003
PHILADELPHIA It's no big secret the Neshoba Central Lady Rockets are among the favorites to win the Class 4A state slow-pitch softball championship this fall.
"These girls have heard it a lot," Neshoba Central head coach Rusty Cumberland said of a run at a state title. "They know there's a lot of expectations. The good thing is they want to do well and have high expectations themselves."
The Lady Rockets went 25-8 a year ago, losing in the Class 4A North State championship series to eventual 4A state champion New Hope. New Hope lost six seniors off that team, while Neshoba Central lost only one.
The Lady Rockets are in Division 4-4A with three-time defending state champion New Hope and now so is 2001 and 2002 4A state runner-up Northeast Lauderdale. Playing in that league will prepare somebody for a solid run at a state crown.
"It will," Cumberland agreed. "There's three tough teams. I definitely feel that Northeast and (non-division opponent) West Lauderdale will probably be the best two defensive clubs that we'll play.
"New Hope lost their
shortstop (Laura Lee Holman) and the (Hale) twins, but they'll still be tough, especially up there. In fast-pitch, they played a lot of ninth and 10th graders and they were tough.
"It should be pretty interesting. And Louisville has got some pretty big girls that can hit it.
"We're not necessarily hunting any more. We're going to being the hunted."
The Lady Rockets were armed for bear as they opened their season Saturday with wins over defending Class 2A state champion Clarkdale (18-12) and Enterprise (15-4). They had 26 hits in each game for an amazing total of 52 in their first day of action.
"We felt like we hit it pretty well," Cumberland said. "We probably won't hit the ball like that every time we play.
The Lady Rockets improved to 3-0 with a 15-3 win over Nanih Waiya on Monday.
At first base is junior Samantha Giambrone. At second is freshman Leah Dennis.
"She's as good as I've got defensively," Cumberland said of Dennis.
At shortstop is junior Jessi Nowell, while senior Sarah Williamson mans the hot corner at third base.
Sophomore Sondreia Hillie is in left field, junior Kady Chandler is in left-center, senior Allison McDaniels is in right-center, and sophomore Whitney White is in right field. Also expected to see time in the outfield are senior Amber Dean and freshman Sommer Fortenberry.
Sophomore Laura Smith and senior Dacie Brantley are the catchers with senior Lindsey Smith on the mound.
Lindsey Smith had eight hits, including a pair of home runs, in Saturday's games at Clarkdale. Giambrone went deep twice, while Laura Smith had one homer.
The Lady Rockets will play in the Philadelphia tournament, Friday and Saturday.

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