Thursday night the George County School Board recognized the George County Lady Rebels Softball team for their historic 2023 season.
In June, the Lady Rebels received proclamations from both the George County Board of Supervisors and the Lucedale Board of Aldermen recognizing the Lady Rebels 5A State Championship. The State title was the first for the Lady Rebels fastpitch program matching the 1995 title won by the slow pitch program. The culmination of the championship season will take place this fall when the Lady Rebels receive their championship rings at a halftime ceremony of a home football game yet to be determined.
The 2023 Lady Rebels set school records for wins (30), runs scored (285), run differential (+194), hits (347), 2B’s (79), 3Bs (36) and team batting average (.364). The post season saw the Lady Rebels go 8 and 0 sweeping Picayune, Florence, East Central and Saltillo by a combined score of 51-20. The team returns the bulk of their roster next season, losing only Ashton Fairley and Irina Sanford to graduation. Fairley and Sandford will continue their softball career next season at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Both left their names at the top of the list in many offensive categories. Sanford leaves George County as the single season leader in hits (56). runs (47), and 3Bs (8) while her .571 batting average ranks second all time. Fairley leaves George County as the single season record holder in home runs, tying the mark she set as a junior with 6 round trippers. She also leaves as the single season record holder in at bats in a season with 118. Junior Natalie Jones tied the single season mark for 2Bs with 15.
A couple of underclassmen added their names to the top 5 in offensive categories as well. Junior Sidnee Beech moved into the top five in hits (44) and 3Bs (6) and was also named Most Valuable Plyer in game 2 of the championship series against Saltillo while 8thgrader Kyleigh Howells 13 doubles ranks her 3rd all time. Sanford and Beech also tied the record for fielding percentage as they played the entire season without committing an error. The pitching staff also added their names to a couple of categories as 8th grader Peyton Collins set a school record with 18 wins while junior Gracie Magee set a record with a 1.32 earned run average.
The Lady Rebels received many post-season awards including Head Coach Kasey McCann who was named Coach of the Year for the 2nd consecutive season by an area newspaper while Irina Sanford was chosen Girls Athlete of the Year and Softball Player of the Year. Peyton Collins was named 5A State Championship Series MVP while Sanford, Collins, Fairley Beech and Jones all received All Division awards.