HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Four Pine Belt area baseball teams will compete for a state championship beginning on Tuesday.
Pearl River Central advanced to its first state title in school history after defeating Hattiesburg in the class 5A South state series. Led by head coach Neil Walther, the Blue Devils face two-time defending champions Oxford in the class 5A state championship.
"Not only is it big for the program, it's sort of validation for the way we've coached them and tried to get them to buy into a system," Walther said. "But I think it's big for the community also and you can see that after that game three victory at Hattiesburg. People came on the field and just an awful lot of emotions."
In class 3A, the Seminary Bulldogs are headed to their third state championship and first since 2003.
Seminary swept West Marion to set up a state title match-up with Mooreville beginning on Tuesday. The 2017 Bulldogs seek to win their first state championship since 1996.
"Kind of neat that these guys are this calm about this," said fifth-year Seminary head coach Jeff Graves. "I think they're more calm than I am."
"We fell short last year but we finally got there and we hope we can go and bring it back to Seminary," said Bulldogs junior Adarius Myers. "It's been a long time since we've had one, 1996. And if we can get the sweep then we'll have the same record as the '96 team."
"Kind of funny because first game of the year we lost to Petal 15-5 and the '96 team lost 15-5 too," said Seminary junior Fisher Norris. "And if we win out, we'll have the same exact record as they did. I guess history repeats itself, kind of."
Columbia Academy has a connection with the year 1996 as well. The Cougars are back in the state title for the first time since 1996. Columbia Academy enters Tuesday's MAIS AAA game one against Central Hinds with a 30-9 record and 52 home runs hit as a team.
In the MAIS AA state championship, Wayne Academy faces Winona Christian beginning on Tuesday.