By Robert Wilson

         Unfinished business has been Northwest Rankin’s motto this season after losing to Madison Central in last year’s MHSAA Class 6A state championship series.

         The Cougar who has been carrying the unfinished business flag this season has been senior pitcher-shortstop Nick Monistere and last week the Southern Miss signee got his team back to the state championship series.

         Monistere had six hits, including a home run and a double, and five runs batted in in addition to being the winning pitcher with seven strikeouts in six innings and allowing only four hits and one run in the first game in a two-game series sweep of Rankin County rival Brandon in the 6A semifinals.

         For his outstanding performance, Monistere has been named the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Baseball Player of the Week.

         It is the third time Monistere has been named Player of the Week this season, the only player to accomplish that feat.

         “Nick was outstanding again for us in Game 1,” Northwest Rankin coach KK Aldridge said. “He gave up a leadoff home run, but then settled in and gave us six strong innings. Keeping Brandon’s bats quiet is a tough task, so for him to give us that kind of start was huge. It allowed us to create some separation early, which ended up being important during that last inning.

         “He is such a leader for this team and has come through in clutch offensive situations and given us dominant performances on the mound all year for us.”

         Monistere is hitting .420 with 11 doubles and eight home runs with 33 runs scored and 33 RBIs. He has a 10-1 record and a 1.25 earned run average with 108 strikeouts and only 19 walks in 67 innings this season.

         Northwest Rankin – ranked nationally No. 12 by Baseball America, No. 14 by MaxPreps, No. 25 by Collegiate Baseball and No. 32 by Perfect Game – has a 32-2 record and has won 23 games in a row. The Cougars play Desoto Central next week in a best-of-three series for the MHSAA Class 6A state championship at Trustmark Park in Pearl. The first game of the best-of-three series is scheduled for Wednesday, May 25, at 7 p.m. at Trustmark Park in Pearl. Northwest Rankin will be trying to win its first state title since 2005.