The George County Lady Rebels look to close out their historic 2023 season this week in Hattiesburg with the program’s first fast-pitch state championship.
George County takes on North State Champion Saltillo at Noon Wednesday at the USM Lady Golden Eagles softball complex in game 1 of the best of 3 series. Game 2 is set for 4:00 pm on Thursday with the if necessary game scheduled for Saturday at a time yet to be determined. The Lady Rebels defeated 2-time South State Champion East Central last Friday in 2 games to advance to their first fast pitch state championship appearance.
The Slow Pitch program won a state championship in 1995 and finished runner-up on six other occasions before the sport was discontinued by the High School Activities Association.
George County is a school record 28-4 on the season and is led by seniors Ashton Fairley and Irina Sanford. The Miss. Gulf Coast Community College signees lead the Lady Rebels in most offensive categories. Sanford leads the team with a .529 average, hits with 54, triples with 8 triples and runs scored with 47. She is tied for the team lead with junior Natalie Jones with 13 doubles. Fairley is hitting .398 on the season and leads the team with 6 HRs and 35 RBIs. Jones enters the series hitting .371 and is second on the team with 29 RBIs.
Her fellow juniors Sidnee Beech (.398) and Gracie Magee (.346) have combined for 44 RBIs. The rest of the lineup consists of freshman Arya Dixon (.417), Addison Davis (.386), Jordyn Bradley (.274), Blakely Slay (.256) and 8th grader Kyleigh Howell (.322). Davis and Howell have also added 3 home runs each, trailing only team leader Fairley. Dixon leads the team with 15 stolen bases.
In the circle, 8th grader Peyton Collins leads the way with a record of 17-2 with an ERA of 1.84 and 153 strikeouts in 122 innings pitched. Magee and Davis add depth to the staff with Magee going 7-2 on the year with a 1.32 ERA while Davis is 4-0 with a 3.39 ERA. Davis’s last outing was her best of the year, a complete game 7-2 series-clinching win over East Central. The freshman allowed 2 unearned runs on 5 hits while striking out 4 and walking none. Backing the Lady Rebels’ staff is a defense that has committed only 39 errors on the season with a fielding percentage of .948.
The Lady Rebels’ opponent, the Saltillo Lady Tigers come into the championship series after upsetting the 9-time defending state champion Neshoba Central in 3 games. The Lady Tigers dropped game one of the series 4-0 but stormed back to take game two 2-1 and punched their ticket to the championship series with a 5-4 8-inning victory Monday night. Saltillo is led by Junior pitcher AK Willingham along with senior Amyah Hill and freshman Lynley McCarley.
Each game of the series will be carried by WRBE 106.9 FM and wrberadio.com. The NFHS will also televise all the state championship games through their website.