The Picayune Lady Maroon Tide battled tooth-and-nail in beating Long Beach 2 games to 1 to advance to the Class 5A State Softball championship finals.
The Lady Maroon Tide travel to Ridgeland 11 a.m. Thursday facing Neshoba Central, game one of the Best-of-Three championship series.
Lady Maroon Tide head coach Kristi Mitchell had her team back out on the practice field Tuesday afternoon, a day after Picayune was forced to play a third and final deciding game and they withstood a strong challenge from Long Beach to win the series two games to one.
Their focus now centers on Neshoba Central:
Coach Mitchell said, "I have never won a state championship nor played for one in fast pitch. I have taken four teams to the state championship, but I have come in second each time. So, it means a whole lot to this program, to the alumni that has come through Picayune and the excitement that it brings."
Senior pitcher Megan Dudenhefer has enjoyed a magnificence season on the mound. Entering Thursday's game, Megan has posted 21 wins and 3 losses with a school record 292 strikeouts.
"We would love to win that state championship. It means a lot to all of us, "said Dudenhefer. "We have worked so hard for it. We really do deserve it."
Alyssa Pinero who had a number of clutch hits in Monday's two games with Long Beach including the game winning walk-off single...says coaching has been the key to success.
Pinero said, "I would never ever ask for any better coaches than I have. Coach Kristi and Coach Courtney, and also Coach Hodge for being there to support us through it all."
Poppy McDonald says Coach Mitchell pushes them to the limit and it has paid off.
"We might get made at her but that's the point of it, "stated McDonald. "That's how she pushes us and she helps us with everything. I just love her."
Practice makes perfect and Elizabeth Taggard says the focus was on a good practice session to prepare for a worthy opponent.
"We know that we have a hard competitor to go up against, so we've going to work hard today and we've just got to play hard this week, "said Taggard.
Neshoba Central is the defending Class 5A State Champs. They beat West Harrison in the state finals last season.
Copyright 2017 WLOX. All Rights Reserved.