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Brookhaven Lady Panthers win Division 6-4A softball crown

MONTICELLO – Over the past six years, the Brookhaven/LawrenceCounty game has been a determining factor in who would capture theDivision 6-4A slowpitch softball championship. These two teams havebeen the dominate factors within the division, with either teamwinning the division or both advancing to the state playoffs.

On Thursday night, a 1-game showdown was played to determine thedivision winner and runner-up spots. The winner would host a first-round game, while the loser would have to travel on the road. Bothteams entering the game with perfect 3-0 division records.

Behind the pitching and hitting of senior pitcher Mandy Vinson,the Brookhaven Lady Panthers put the ream, steam and dry-clean tothe Lawrence County Lady Cougars 18-1 and captured the 2002Division 6-4A slowpitch softball championship.

Vinson allowed only 1 earned run and 2 hits on the mound inpicking up the win. She aided her team’s cause at the plate with asingle and a homer for 3 runs scored and 3 RBIs.

Brookhaven will host Quitman, the Division 5 runner-up, in abattle of Lady Panthers Tuesday at 4 p.m. in a best-of-three seriesat the Hansel King Sportsplex.

Lawrence County travels to Northeast Lauderdale, the Division 5champion. Each home team will host all three games, ifnecessary.

The Lady Cougars (12-9, 3-1) opened the scoring in the bottom ofthe first inning. Allie Williamson led off the game with a single.Heather Sanders grounded into a fielder’s choice, forcingWilliamson out at second. Three batters later, BreighAnna Dawseysingled to score Sanders.

Unfortunately for Lawrence County, their bats came to ascreeching halt. Brookhaven held the Lady Cougars hitless andscoreless during the remaining 4 innings, evoking the 10-run rulein the fourth.

“We didn’t hit the ball,” said Lawrence County head coach TarveyWard. “You can’t win if you don’t hit the ball.”

Brookhaven (19-6, 4-0) opened the flood gates in their half ofthe second to command a 7-1 advantage, sending 12 batters to theplate.

Britney Smith singled. Vinson send a blast over the leftfieldfence for a 2-run homer. Allyson Wallace doubled. Two batterslater, catcher Kayla Prince singled to score Wallace. ShortstopMegan Bateman tripled, scoring Prince. Chuvaquah Smith singled,scoring Bateman. Jaronda Moore singled. Two batters later, thirdbaseman Ashley Sykes doubled to score Smith and Moore.

Vinson was looking to advance Britney Smith to the next base,before she sent the ball screaming over the fence.

“I just wanted to get Britney to second,” said Vinson.

The Lady Panthers, coached by Lisa Covington, Dan Presley andJohn Ogden, added 2 runs in the third. Prince doubled. Batemansingled. Chuvaquah Smith doubled, scoring Prince and Bateman.Brookhaven increased their lead to 9-1.

“We saved the best for the best,” said Lady Panther head coachLisa Covington. “Our 3 seniors hit home runs.” Covington wasreferring to the 4-baggers hit by Vinson along with fellow seniorsKensy Hoff and Boutwell. A fourth senior, Cortney Fielder wasunable to play due to an ankle injury suffered in Brookhaven’s11-10 win over North Pike Tuesday.

“She (Fielder) will play on Tuesday,” said Covington.

Brookhaven had a 2-run fourth, extended their cushion to 11-1.Britney Smith and Vinson had back-to-back singles. Wallace and Hoffissued back-to-back singles, scoring Smith and Vinson.

The fifth inning was the deciding factor for the Lady Panthers.Boutwell and Hoff highlighted the innings with homeruns. Boutwell’s2-run blast scored Bateman, while Hoff’s 3-run shot brought homeVinson and Wallace. Also scoring in the inning were Moore andSykes. Brookhaven had a 1-2-3 bottom of the fifth to lay claim tothe division title. The red-and-blue clad bench cleared and theLady Panthers celebrated in the infield.

Brookhaven authored a season-high 24 hits in the 17-run win.

“We hit the ball extremely well tonight,” added Covington. “Thiswas the best game that we have played all year.”

All 10 Lady Panthers that stepped to the plate had at least 2hits led by Bateman, who paced the hitting barrage with 3 singlesand a triple. Chuvaquah Smith had 2 singles and a double. Wallacehit 2 singles and a double. Moore and Britney Smith each singledtwice. Boutwell, Hoff and Vinson singled and homered individually.Sykes had 2 doubles. Prince singled and doubled.

Scoring for Brookhaven was Vinson (3), Bateman (2), Moore (2),Prince (2), Britney Smith (2), Wallace (2), Boutwell, ChuvaquahSmith, Sykes and Hoff.

Lawrence County got their only run of the game from Sanders.Williamson and Dawsey each singled. Brooke Nelson suffered the lossin 4 innings. Stacey Smith threw the final inning for the LadyCougars.

Brookhaven plays its final game of the regular season Saturdayat Wesson. The junior varsity game begins at 6 p.m. and the varsityat 7.