Neshoba Central defeats Pearl River Central, 3-0 in first of state title series

Published 9:29 am Friday, May 11, 2018

By Tara Baucom

Item Correspondent

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Pearl River Central’s Lady Devils lost the first game in a best of three series during the 22nd annual Mississippi High School Activities Association state championship against Neshoba Central’s Lady Rockets for the 5A state title.

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The Lady Devils and Lady Rockets faced off at Mississippi State University’s Nusz Park in Starkville. While the Lady Devils struggled to connect with the ball through the early innings, the team’s defense managed to keep Neshoba off the board until the bottom of the fourth when the Lady Rockets earned the first run of the game when courtesy runner Hallie Billie made it to homeplate off a base hit by Ellie Willis.

Pearl River Central’s offense gave an effort in the top of the fifth, connecting with several pitches. The team got on base with a single by Keigan Pearson. Harlee Davis also connected for a single, setting up the Lady Devils to get some runs. But, Neshoba’s pitcher struck out the following players to bring up the bottom of the fifth.

With Neshoba at bat, the team gained a larger lead when an in field homerun pushed two Lady Rockets home. With two innings left, both teams continued to fight with their best defense to prevent any more scoring runs.

Though they held off the Lady Rockets in the sixth and seventh innings, Pearl River Central was unable to put any runs of their own on the scoreboard. Neshoba took home the first win of the series, 3-0.

Tony LaBella, head softball coach for Pearl River Central, said his team has been resilient this year and chalks up Thursday’s loss to Neshoba’s strong pitching.

This is the first time the Lady Devils made it to the state championships in the 22 years it has been held. Coming off a 1-20 record from five years ago, and making it where they are now has been a big deal, LaBella said. He hopes Friday’s game will bring a better outcome for the team.

Pearl River Central will face the Neshoba Central again on Friday at 6:30 p.m. If the Lady Devils earn a win Friday, a third game will be held on Saturday to determine a winner. MHSAA will be broadcasting the games live on the NFHS Network’s Mississippi channel at