Every year, teams converge on Ridgeland, Mississippi in pursuit of a softball state championship. They expect one final test before getting the chance to hoist the golden mitt tropy. But for Neshoba Central and Newton County, there was no drama this year... only domination.
"They relish in the moment. They want to be here," said Neshoba coach Trae Embry. "This is what it's about, and you know, if you don't want to be here, then you've got a problem. You shouldn't be playing."
The Lady Rockets secured their second consecutive 5A fast pitch title with ease, outscoring Wayne County 24-1 over the course of two days.
"This is our expectation every year. At the beginning of the year, we want to come to state and win," said senior Katlyn Duke. "We don't have a good season unless we win state."
At Newton County, the expectations are just as high. The Cougars have won eight of the 14 state championships played since the new millennium.
"We push them, but I'll tell you what: they're a very talented bunch of young ladies," said Newton County coach Justin Chaney. "They're good people."
What's striking is how much these two dynasties have had in common. Both teams have just two seniors and both had a no-hitter in its respective championship series. Neshoba Central's Aspen Wesley no-hit Wayne County on Saturday, striking out 13 batters. She's only in the 7th grade.
Neither of these teams will stop winning anytime soon.
"This is my fifth ring, but my sixth championship since seventh grade," said Newton County senior Savannah Gates. "It never gets old."
"This will never get old," said Neshoba Central senior Maggie Peebles. "It's a great feeling. Like Katlyn said, unless you're here, you're whole season's not anything."