George County wins first-ever fast pitch title with dramatic 2-1 win over Saltillo
HATTIESBURG, Miss. — The 2023 George County High School softball team will be remembered forever, following Thursday’s thrilling 2-1 victory over Saltillo in Game 2 of the MHSAA 5A state championship series held at the Southern Miss Softball Complex in Hattiesburg.
The Lady Tigers struck first in the top of the second inning, but George County escaped the jam with a 9-6 double play. The Lady Rebels answered back in the bottom of the third with a run of their own, as Jordyn Bradley scored on a passed ball following a lead-off triple.
That score would remain until the bottom of the sixth, when Natalie Jones started a two-out rally with a double all the way to the left field wall. Saltillo then made the curious decision to walk three-hole hitter Ashton Fairley, which sent Sidnee Beech to the plate for the biggest at-bat of her life. The junior came through with an opposite field RBI single into right field, sending Jones to the dish for a 2-1 lead.
Despite Addison Davis’ dominance through six innings, the Lady Rebels turned to their eighth grade ace Peyton Collins in the top of the seventh inning. With one out and runners on first and second, Beech fired a snap throw over to third base, and later applied the tag in a rundown for the second out of the inning, before firing over to Bradley to apply the final out at second base.
With the dogpile already underway, the umpire exclaimed he had called for obstruction at second base, so the game deferred back to a two-strike count with two outs. Collins put the finishing touches on George County’s state championship game victory with a swinging strikeout, and was later named series MVP.
Another dogpile promptly ensued.
“I would like for the umpires to explain that to me cause I thought that he did this. Apparently they did too,” said George County head softball coach Kasey McCann. “But I feel like I was screaming get back, get back when I realized he didn’t call ball game, so we got it eventually, so, and then they’re like, can we go? Can we go? Can we dogpile? So that sounds just like our team.”
“Oh my gosh, it was insane! It was kind of hurting,” said George County freshman pitcher Addison Davis. “It was really heavy emotions especially with our seniors. We were super proud of them, but we were really upset it was our last game with them.”
“It felt really good,” said George County senior utility player Irina Sanford. “Tears, sweat, blood, everything. We went out for it all, and we got the win.”
“It’s definitely sunk in because everyone is just here crowding us and everything like that,” said George County junior catcher Sidnee Beech. “It’s a big joy. And I just feel like it’s just the biggest thing for us because we made it here and we made such a bad season from last year to an amazing season.”
“I’m just proud,” said eighth grade pitcher Peyton Collins. “I’m very, very proud of my team. I’m – what’s it called? I don’t know. Speechless? Yes! I’m very speechless!”
Watch the highlights and post-game celebration courtesy of WXXV Sports Director Jeff Haeger in the video above!