By Bruce Thornton
228Sports Contributing Writer
The 2nd week of the 2023 softball season wraps up this weekend as local community colleges in the area host multi-day tournaments.
Pearl River Community College and Jones County Junior College hosted events with local teams participating over the Mardi Gras break. Gulfport High also hosted an all-day event last weekend as well. Schools from the Southern Six have spent most of the first two weeks beating up on each other as only Hancock, Harrison Central and George County have remained unscathed early on. Satsuma, Alabama has handed both East Central and Gulfport early-season losses as well. Bryant, Alabama out of southern Mobile County has also been a handful for our local Mississippi teams.
Two first-year head coaches have fared well early on and meet each other tonight as Hancock (3-0) host D’Iberville (3-1). Coach Joe Rankin’s Lady Hawks have wins over Ocean Springs, Quitman and defending 6A state champion Petal and host Kaitlin Lee’s Lady Warriors in the Kiln. D’Iberville’s lone loss came at the hand of perennial 6A power Brandon. Harrison Central under long time Head Coach Jimmie Parker owns a victory over Bryant, AL and travel to SoSo tonight looking to stay undefeated against West Jones. Gulfport is also off to a good start at 4 and 1 with wins over St. Martin, Picayune Saraland, AL and Mary G. Montgomery, AL. Division 8-6A, with Gulfport, Hancock, Harrison Central, Biloxi is one of the toughest divisions in the state.
In 5A, Division 8 looks to be a dog fight as well. Defending South State champion East Central has played a tough early schedule with both its losses coming to out of state schools. George County stayed unbeaten on the young season defeating Clinton 4-2 Tuesday night in 8 innings. The game was part of a two-day event at Jones County Junior College. The Lady Rebels travel up Highway 63 tonight as they take on rival Greene County. Vancleave has gotten off to a 3 and 1 start but face a tough test tonight as they host Pearl River Central. The Lady Blue Devils are coming off a huge 18-5 win over Columbia earlier this week. PRC division opponent West Harrison has gotten off to a similar start as East Central with both their losses coming to opponents from Mobile County. The Lady Canes head to Jones County this weekend taking on West Jones and South Jones. Long Beach and Picayune round out Division 7-5A and are looking to get on track this weekend.
In 4A, Pass Christian has split 4 games to begin the season and host Picayune tonight, while Bay High looks to avenge a 1 run loss to Poplarville as they hit the road to take on the Lady Hornets. Stone High, under first year coach Tyler Barham has a tough weekend ahead as they take on Bryant, AL, on Friday night and Pearl River Central on Saturday. Moss Point takes on OLA tonight and opens division play March 7 against Greene County. St. Patrick has split its first four games and take on Division 8-5A opponents Gautier on Friday and a doubleheader at George County on Saturday. Most teams open division play the first week of March.