(Editors note: This story was inadvertently omitted from publication late last week. Some of these results are not updated. We apologize for the delay.)
South Mississippi will be well represented in the South State Softball Semifinals which get underway (last) Thursday night. Division 8-5A leads the way with 3 teams still alive while 8-6A has 2 teams looking to advance to next week’s South State Championships. 8-4A has Greene County still alive while 8-3A champion St. Patrick is still in action. In 6A, the Hancock Lady Hawks (20-3) open their best a 3 series at home against Brandon (17-6). Game 1 is scheduled for Friday night at 6 with Saturday’s game 2 set for 6 pm in Brandon. The schedule may be adjusted based on arrangements for the 2 Hancock students who tragically lost their lives in a shooting incident. Teegan DeWitt leads the Lady Hawks at the plate with a .453 average and in the circle with a 16-3 record and a 1.77 ERA. Adriana Cuevas leads the team with 5 HRs and a .358 average. Hancock swept Ocean Springs to advance while Brandon was taken to 3 games by Warren Central. The winner of that series takes on the winner of the Harrison Central (25-7) and NW Rankin (27-4) series. Game one is in Flowood on Friday night at 6 pm. Game 2 is set for Lyman on Saturday at 6. Harrison Central comes in off an exciting 3 game series with D’Iberville, winning game 3 2-1. The Lady Red Rebels are led at the plate by Kiyla Marsh with a .371 average. In the circle, Harrison Central will look to Jayla Ladner 9-3, 1.43 ERA and Gabrielle Smith 11-4, 1.41 ERA. NW Rankin was also pushed to 3 games in the last round as they knocked off the Gulfport Lady Admirals.
In 5A for the second consecutive year, East Central, George County and Vancleave make up 75 percent of the teams remaining in the south. An all-Jackson County matchup gets underway Thursday night in Hurley at 6 pm as East Central (23-7-1) takes on Vancleave (16-16). The Lady Hornets come in on a 16-game winning streak including an 8-7 and 9-4 win over the Lady Bulldogs in the regular season. East Central is led at the plate by Bree Phillips hitting .474 with 6 HRs and 47 RBIs. Breyona Tanner is hitting .433 and should get the start in game 1 with a record of 12-5 and a 2.77 ERA. East Central swept Brookhaven and Pearl River Central to get to the semifinal round.
Vancleave completed their playoff run through Jones County taking down West Jones in 3 games and sweeping South Jones last weekend. The Lady Bulldogs won game 2 of the series 15-14 in 9 innings. Brooklyn Rhodes leads the team at the plate with a .453 average and should get the game 1 start. Gabby Moore leads the team with 2 HRs and is hitting .397 coming into the series. Game 2 is set for Vancleave on Saturday at 6 pm. The winner of the Jackson County brawl will get the winner of the George County (24-4)-Florence (19-10) series which kicks off Thursday night at 6 in Lucedale. Florence is coming off a 2-game sweep of West Harrison while the Lady Rebels swept past Picayune. George County’s 2 seniors lead the offense as Irina Sanford is hitting .557 while Ashton Fairley leads the team with 6 HRs and 33 RBIs while hitting .390. Peyton Collins will get the game start and is 14-2 with a 1.75 ERA on the season.
In 4A, Greene County (17-11) is set to host Newton County (23-2) on Friday night at 6 in Leakesville. Game 2 is Saturday at 6 back at Newton County. Taylor Brewer 10-5 should get the start in the circle while Z’Miah Knight leads the team with a .390 average. In 3A, St. Patrick (17-10) host Clarkdale (17-9) in game 1 of their series at 6 pm. Game 2 will be Saturday at 6 in Clarkdale. The Lady Irish is led by Brooklyn Mitchell’s .435 average while Tara Nasakaitis is hitting .407 with 50 stolen bases. Alex Bennett should be the game starter and comes in with a 2.60 ERA and 82 K’s. St. Patrick swept McLaurin while Clarkdale comes in after sweeping Seminary. Game 3’s, if necessary are set for Monday night back at the host of game 1.