• 73°

Brook, W. Lincoln in South finals

Brookhaven and West Lincoln, two local teams with girlsslowpitch softball state championship ambitions, face their nexthurdle today. The Lady Panthers and Lady Bears are chasing SouthState crowns, Brookhaven at Northeast Lauderdale in Class 4A andWest Lincoln hosting Union in Class 1A. Both best-of-three seriesbegin at 4 p.m.

The Lady Panthers (24-6) were eliminated byNortheast Lauderdale in the second round last year. Brookhaven wonthe Division 6-4A championship and beat Quitman in the openinground before defeating Florence last Saturday in the Southquarterfinals.

“Northeast Lauderdale (26-8) has a good team,” said Brookhavenhead coach Lisa Covington. “They play good defense and they hit theball well.”

Covington said her Lady Panthers were looking for revenge. “Wewant to beat them after last year. We will have to hit the ballwell and play good defense.”

Offense hasn’t been a problem for the Lady Panthers. In thesweep of Florence, they accounted for 37 hits and 31 runs, beatingthe Lady Eagles 14-1 and 17-3.

Pitcher Mandy Vinson is one of four seniors on the Brookhavenroster. The others are first baseman Samantha Boutwell, extrahitter Kensy Hoff and outfielder Cortney Fielder.

Ashley Sykes accounted for a homer, a triple, a double and 2singles in the sweep of Florence.

Covington had two assistant coaches in John Ogden and DanPresley. They directed the team while Covington took a leave ofabsence last month to give birth to her second child, adaughter.

State finals are Saturday at VA Field in Jackson. In the North4A finals, Neshoba Central (25-6) is playing at New Hope(30-2).

The Lady Bears (19-8) meet a strong Union team(27-4) today. West Lincoln beat Puckett on the road Saturday whileUnion eliminated Mize. Union’s Madison Brantley had 2 singles, 2doubles and a homer in the sweep of Mize.

“I know (Union’s) record is 27-4,” said West Lincoln coachAndrew Redd. “They were South State runners-up to Nanih Waiya lastyear. I’m sure they have a good solid team. They will hit the ballwell.”

Redd said his Lady Bears must continue to play well, especiallyon defense., “If we hit the ball well, we can play withanybody.”

A giant-killer of sorts, West Lincoln has defeated Class 4ABrookhaven and 5A Natchez, respective division champions, thisyear. “We are used to playing real strong teams,” said Redd.

West Lincoln eliminated Nanih Waiya in the opening round anddisposed of Puckett Saturday on the road. Pitcher Hanna Roberts andshortstop Dana King are the two seniors on West Lincoln’ssquad.

Third baseman Britnee Smith and King each had 3 hits in theopening win at Puckett. The Lady Bears went 2 extra innings in thenightcap before winning 4-3 as Lauren Smith, Britnee Smith andLyndsay Franklin had 2 hits.

In North 1A, Myrtle (19-8) plays at Ingomar (25-7) today. Statefinals are Saturday at VA Field in Jackson.