By Curtis Rockwell, Sports Editor
The Picayune Item
Two more wins, and Poplarville will be playing for the Class 4A state championship in fast-pitch softball.
The Lady Hornets have a chance at getting that first victory today.
Poplarville hosts Newton County in game one of the Class 4A South state championship series at 2 p.m. Game two, and three if needed in the best-of-three series, will take place in Decatur Monday afternoon beginning at 5 p.m.
The Lady Hornets are 28-2 overall, and have won four straight playoff games to reach this point.
"We are blessed with good players and we teach them how to play our system and they do the rest," veteran Poplarville head coach Jonathan Ray Said. Ray led the Lady Hornets slow pitch team to a state title four years ago.
Rachel Hickman, who will play for the University of Southern Mississippi next season, has been a stalwart for the Lady Hornets all season both on the mound and at the plate. She is 27-2 on the bump, with 17 shutouts and four no-hitters. She has a 0.34 earned run average, with 316 strikeouts and allowing just 63 hits.
"It would mean a lot to bring home a state title to us, especially with this being my senior year," Hickman said."We have tried in the past and always come up short. We hope this is our year."
The Lady Hornet wield some big sticks in addition to Hickman, as she is one of seven Poplarville hittrs batting over .400.
Branda Northrop is hitting .576, while Hickman is hitting .443. Maryah Davis is hitting .469, Kaitlyn Clark .429 and Kristen Herndon .446. Tori Fairchild is hitting .481 and Breanna Herndon .425.
The Lady Hornets swept the best-of-three semifinal series with North Pike, completing the affair with a 2-0 road win Monday night.
Hickman pitched a complete game one-hitter and struck out seven Monday night to wrap up play. Poplarville won game one Friday night 10-0. Hickman did not allow the Lady Jaguars a run in the series.
Branda Northrop scored the first run for the Lady Hornets Monday night on a double steal. Kaitlyn Clark drove in Maryah Davis with the other run, after Davis led off with a triple.
The Lady Hornets were coming off a two game sweep of West Lauderdale to open the playoffs. Poplarville's only two losses of the season each came by one run, one to East Central and one to Lake Cormorant. Both of those teams are 5A schools, and both still alive in their respective playoffs as well.