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Neshoba Central seeks a second state softball title

By By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
April 30, 2004
Two more wins and the Neshoba Central fast-pitch softball team can put itself in a pretty select club on the NCHS campus.
If the Lady Rockets can get past three-time defending Class 4A state champion East Central, they will join the 1991 girls' basketball team as the only state champions in Neshoba Central's 46-year history.
Neshoba Central (26-8) has had no problem in this year's playoffs after needing three games to get past New Albany in the first round. Since then, the Lady Rockets have swept Saltillo, 12-2 and 9-0, and 2003 Class 4A state runner-up New Hope, 8-3 and 4-3.
The next two wins won't come easy, however.
East Central is to fast-pitch in Class 4A what New Hope has been in slow-pitch. In a word dominant.
The Lady Hornets from Hurley defeated New Hope in last year's finals and beat Terry in 2001 and again in 2002. East Central lost to Terry in the 2000 finals.
This is East Central's fifth-straight appearance in the championship round, while it will be the first for Neshoba Central.
Game 1 in the best-of-three series is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Philadelphia. The second and third game, if needed, will be Monday at Hurley with a 3 p.m. start.
Tommy Holland is in his first year as head coach of the Lady Rockets after being being given the job in late January, following the sudden resignation of Rusty Cumberland.
Taking care of the pitching for the Lady Rockets are junior Kady Chandler (13-5) and senior Lindsey Smith (13-3).
Chandler plays first base when Smith, another ECCC signee, is pitching. Junior Samantha Giambrone plays first base when Chandler is on the mound.
The catcher is freshman Leah Dennis. Playing second is freshman Hettie Brewer. At shortstop is junior Jessie Nowell. Playing center field is sophomore Sondria Hillie, and sophomore Whitnee White is in right field. Sophomore Laura Smith is the designated hitter. Loren Jones and Summer Fortenberry are the courtesy runners.
East Central needed a third game to get past Lawrence County for the 4A South State title. Kaci Williams slid home with the winning run as East Central escaped with a thrilling 1-0 win in eight innings Monday night at Monticello.
East Central's Lindsay Long struck out nine with no walks in tossing a one-hitter.
Lawrence County had won Saturday's opener 2-1 at Hurley, but the Lady Hornets rebounded to take the nightcap 7-4 to force a third game.