Tri-County wins softball state title
The Tri-County Academy Lady Rebels softball team brought home the fourth state championship in program history after a five-year drought.
The Lady Rebels are the 2021 MAIS Class 4A State Champions with a 10-4 win over Clinton Christian Academy on Oct. 9 at Tri-County. They are 28-8-1 on the year.
“I had never even made it to the championship game before this year and it was different because this probably the biggest thing I have ever done in my life,” said senior pitcher and Southwest Mississippi Community College commit A.L. Ainsworth.
Assistant Coach Jason Taylor said that he knew this group of girls was good and challenged them to prove that every game.
“From the get, we had a feeling we were the team to beat,” Taylor said. “We told them the only team that can beat you is yourself.”
The commanding win in Flora snapped a winning streak for Clinton Christian. Taylor said they were the three-time defending 4A champions.
“After the game, we told them that we never doubted them and to be proud of themselves,” Taylor said. “We are proud of them. We were hard on those girls and they came to work.”
Ainsworth said the game was “bittersweet.” She has played softball since she was 6 years old and though she has plans to play at the next level, this team will always have a cherished place in her memories.
“This has just been the best team,” she said. “I love those girls and coaches. We had great team chemistry. We always kept Jesus as No. 1, and I think that helped us go all the way.”
Sophomore shortstop Madye Bath said that final strikeout felt like a dream. The first thing she did was give Ainsworth “the biggest hug ever” followed by a team hug.
“We actually did it. We won the state title,” Bath said. “I have just loved bonding with these girls. They are best friends for life, sisters, family. It was unforgettable.”
After all the confetti had fallen and hugging and crying had slowed down, Ainsworth said she took a moment to take it all in. She said she got her catcher, Anna Perry to suit up and take a few more pitches before she sat on the mound and talked to two Clinton Christian players she has known her whole life for at least an hour and a half while everyone else, fans, players, coaches and officials made their exit.
Ainsworth said that softball has been therapeutic for her.
“If I am having a bad day or going through some stuff I know I can just go to softball and focus on something else and get my mind off of stuff,” Ainsworth said.
TCA softball previously had a run of state championships in 2014, 2015 and 2016.