FLOWOOD — The Heritage Academy fast-pitch softball team lost to East Rankin Academy 15-0 in five innings Wednesday and was eliminated from the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA overall State tournament at Liberty Park.
On Saturday, Heritage Academy (13-11) lost to Copiah Academy 12-0 in the opening round. Rain on Saturday forced the rest of that day’s action to be postponed until Wednesday due to conflicts with start of the MAIS soccer playoffs.
On Wednesday, Shiloh Ellis (double) and Macy Nordquist had the only hits for the Lady Patriots against winning pitcher Jordan Herring (seven strikeouts). Heritage Academy committed five of its six errors in the first two innings.
“On paper, I thought we matched up with East Rankin as much as any other team in the tournament,” Heritage Academy coach Gary Harris said. “But we just absolutely came out not ready to play and kicked the ball all over the place. You cannot make that many mistakes in a state tournament game and expect to win. I don’t know if it was the long bus ride, the two-hour delay while they got the fields ready or what, but this was one of our worst defensive efforts of the year. We made a couple of very costly mistakes in the outfield that led to extra bases. That put us in a tough hole, and Herring mixed up her changeup very well. We spent all day Monday and Tuesday working on reading rotation and being disciplined in the box against it early in the count, and it looked like we’d never even worked on it. It’s frustrating, but it doesn’t take away from a remarkable season.”
In his first season at the school, Harris praised his players for making significant progress from the beginning of the season. He hopes the fact that the team finished as the No. 3 team in the North serves as motivation to do even better next season.
“I told the girls early in the year that I was going to keep pushing them and keep demanding more and more from them, setting the bar higher and higher and that when the season was over, we could look back and see where we are,” Harris said. “I can say we have moved this program forward and these girls now have a taste of what it’s like to win. What we have to do now is to challenge ourselves to take it even farther, and like I told them after our last game, it’s going to require we do even more than we did this year. Our goal next year will not simply be to make the state tournament. We were disappointed in our showing at the state tournament, but once these girls have a chance to reflect on where we were and where we ended up, I think they’re going to really be proud of their efforts.”
On Saturday, Madison Sears, Katlyn Petty, and Ellis had hits. Winning pitcher Kaitlyn Taylor struck out 10.
“I knew we would have to play a perfect game and Copiah would have to come out flat,” Harris said. “We didn’t make any errors, but Copiah just pounded the softball. They were unbelievable how hard they attacked the ball. We tried to pitch them away and keep the ball out of the middle of the plate and it didn’t matter. Coach Terry Bauer has established that program as one of the top programs in our association. We learned an awful lot about how much stronger and faster we need to be to play with the very best in AAA.”
n Immanuel Christian, Starkville Academy lose: Lamar School defeated Immanuel Christian 11-0 and Pillow Academy beat Starkville Academy 3-0 in overtime Tuesday in the first round of the MAIS Division II and Division I playoffs.
For Immanuel Christian, senior goalkeeper Taylor Kidder made 21 saves as the Lady Rams finished the season 5-5. They were the No. 4 seed in the North Division.
n Heritage Academy takes seventh, Starkville Academy eighth: At Flowood, Jackson Prep swept the three titles, while Heritage Academy came in seventh and Starkville Academy took eighth in the overall team finish last week at the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools State elementary school swimming meet at The Courthouse.
Jackson Prep won the girls and boys meet with 118 and 190 points, respectively, to take the team crown with 308 points. Heritage Academy was sixth in the girls meet (53 points) and sixth in the boys meet (29) for a total of 82. Starkville Academy was sixth (53) in the girls meet and 14th in the boys meet (five) for a total of 79.
In the girls meet, Starkville Academy’s 7-9 200-yard freestyle relay team of Kacey Faver, Logan Alpe, Alex Hanson, and Mary Catherine Ray was second (2 minutes, 10.91 second) and the same team was second in the 200 medley relay (2:27.28), Ray won the 7-9 50 breaststroke (34.90) and the 7-9 100 individual medley (1:11.75), Christa Wilburn won the 10-12 50 butterfly (33.79), Heritage Academy’s Madison Sears won the 10-12 50 backstroke (31.38) and was second in the 10-12 100 free (1:04.72), the 200 medley relay team of Sears, Alli Ridilla, Anna Isler, and Madison Clark was second (2:40.66),.
In the boys meet, Heritage Academy’s Jimbo Killebrew was third in the 7-9 100 free (1:06.85).
In the elementary school meet, First Presbyterian Day School swept the three titles last week, while Heritage Academy took third and Starkville Academy was sixth in the combined team meet.
FPDS won the girls meet with 190.5 points, while Heritage Academy was third with 56 points and Starkville Academy with 20 points. FPDS won the boys meet with 216.5 points. Heritage Academy was fourth with 73 points and Starkville Academy was fifth with 57 points. Overall, FPDS won the combined competition with 407 points, Heritage Academy was third with 129 points and Starkville Academy was sixth with 77 points.
In boys competition, the Heritage Academy boys 4-6 100-yard free relay team of Jackson Conn, JR Lott, Cate Upton, and Moak Griffin was second with a time of 1:01.98, Conn won the 4-6 50 back (33.29), Conn won the 4-6 100 IM (1:15.77), Lott was third in the 4-6 25 free (15.31), Griffin was second in the 4-6 50 butterfly (31.74), second in the 4-6 50 free (28.25), the 100 medley relay team of Conn, Upton, Griffin, and Lott was second (1:05.79), Starkville Academy’s Randal Futral was second in the 1-3 25 breast (27.58), Harris McReynolds won the 1-3 25 fly (19.63), the 1-3 100 medley relay team of Harris Ruffin, Will McReynolds, Harris McReynolds, and Futral was second (1:31.65).
In girls competition, Heritage Academy’s Haven Tuggle was second in the 4-6 50 back (41.57) and Isabella Conn won the 1-3 25 breast (23.27), and the 1-3 25 fly (21.00).