At the beginning of Spring and the end of the Fall, East Mississippi was more competitive in prep softball than any region of the Magnolia State.
On two occasions teams from the region invaded Ridgeland's Freedom-Ridge park. As a result, four schools brought six total state championships back to East Mississippi in a five month period.
"I couldn't be more proud of a bunch of girls.... just all the hard work they put into it, you know?" said Newton County coach Justin Chaney after the Cougars won the fast-pitch title. "And they're reaping the benefits of it right now."
That was Newton County' 4th fast-pitch title since 2007, but the Cougars turned right around and won a slow-pitch crown in October.
The Neshoba Central Lady Rockets accomplished the same feat, dominating 5A in 2013. In May's fast-pitch finals, they forced officials to call the run rule as they defeated East Central High School 18-5. In October, they swept Wayne County for the slow-pitch championship.
But 2013 was a year for newcomers, as well. Pitcher Ryan Holdiness struck out the game's last four batters as Nanih Waiya defeated West Union for its first championship.
"I've had two pitchers that I've used all season, and it's really helped both of them," said Nanih Waiya coach (and Ryan's mom) Jennifer Holdiness. "They've both been ready for tough situations, and they've helped each other out by giving each other rest. And we've always gotten the base hits when we need it."
And in the Fall, Choctaw Central Won the first slow pitch state title in Warrior history.
"We came out both games swinging the bats really well," said coach Aaron Terrell. "Scored ten runs the first inning of the second game. Scored five runs the first inning of the first game. We really came out swinging. Came out focused and played well."
2014 will bring East Mississippi more school spirit, more intense coaching and, of course, More trophies.