South State finals begin

Published 6:24 am Thursday, May 7, 2009


Item Sports Editor

Over the next three days, weather permitting, The Class 4A South State championship will be decided.

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Game one in the best of three series takes place tonight, as Picayune hosts defending state champion East Central at 7. Game two will take place Friday in Hurley at the same time, while a third and deciding game if necessary will take place back in Pearl River County on Saturday afternoon at 2.

Picayune, ranked 10th in the state, is 22-3 overall while the Hornets, ranked sixth in the state, stand 26-5.

Picayune has won six straight playoff games and is on an eight game win streak overall. The Hornets have won six of seven playoff games. In the second playoff series, St. Stanislaus, whom Picayune swept this season in two games, beat the Hornets in Hurley to open that series before ECHS stormed back to win the next two games and advance.

That was the only loss on their home field for the Hornets this season. Picayune has also lost just once on its homefield this year, losing to Long Beach 4-2.

Both head coaches, Picayune’s Cayne Stockstill and East Central’s Gary Long, have enjoyed state championships as part of their alma maters.

Long, who was a second baseman on East Central’s 1981 state championship team, coached his alma mater to the state finals in 1998 where ECHS fell to New Hope before guiding the Hornets to the just the second state title in school history last year.

Stockstill, also a former standout for the Maroon Tide, was an assistant coach with the 2002 Picayune team that won the only state baseball championship in school history.

Now, Stockstill is trying to duplicate Long’s success and bring the second state crown to his school and first as a head coach.

The winner of the South State championship will take on the North State champion beginning next week for the Class 4A State title. New Hope and West Lauderdale begin their North State championship series tonight as well.

All state championships games will take place in Pearl at Trustmark Park, the home of the Class AA Mississippi Braves, from May 14-20.