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Final glance at girls slowpitch

As the sun slowly sinks in the western sky, here’s a final lookat the girls slowpitch softball state playoffs. This area boastedseveral outstanding slowpitch teams and two of them, the BrookhavenLady Panthers and the West Lincoln Lady Bears, made it all the wayto the South State championship series in Class 4A and 1Arespectively. Coaches Lisa Covington of Brookhaven and Andrew Reddof West Lincoln deserve special congratulations for a job welldone.

High school slowpitch, in the opinion of many fastpitchaficionados, is a dying sport. Still, there are strong, dedicatedpockets of slowpitch and the girls obviously still enjoy the sport,judging from the large number of participants. Fans also turn outin large numbers to cheer for their favorite players.

In case you missed it, the rain-delayed state tournamentchampionships featured some familiar faces. Moss Point (27-2) inClass 5A and New Hope (34-2) in Class 4A, both three-peated,beating Tupelo and Northeast Lauderdale respectively. Brookhavenhad split a best-of-three series with NE Lauderdale in the SouthState finals.

In Class 3A, West Lauderdale (29-7) knocked off Kossuth afterbeating defending champion Newton County to reach the finals. InClass 2A, Clarkdale (25-11) whipped Mooreville two straight games.Ironically, Clarkdale also won the fastpitch crown last May,beating Mooreville.

In Class 1A, Ingomar ((29-8) defeated high-powered Union for thechampionship, as the Lady Falcons won 2 of 3 from the Lady YellowJackets. Union (30-8) had eliminated West Lincoln in the SouthState playoffs at West Lincoln.

Obviously, New Hope coach Cary Shepherd is devoted to her teamand the sport of softball she has been coaching for 21 years. Aftereach game during the season, Shepherd’s flock passed out a treatbag full of goodies, including a Bible scripture, to opposingteams.

Looking ahead, West Lincoln loses two senior starters inshortstop Dana King and pitcher Hanna Roberts so Redd’s Lady Bearsshould make another run at the title next year. Covington’s LadyPanthers lose four seniors to graduation in pitcher Mandy Vinson,first baseman Samantha Boutwell, outfielder Cortney Fielder andextra hitter Kensey Hoff. BHS should be strong again, too.

Professor Hoopla, B.S., has been honing his prognosticatingskills for 32 years and he’s still learning the ropes. His fearlessfootball forecast has pleased many and enraged many, depending onthe phase of the moon. Last week he picked the winners of 23 gamesand got 15 right.

Special congratulations go to the Enterprise Yellow Jackets andBogue Chitto Bobcats for their shocking upset victories over Dexterand Natchez Cathedral respectively. When was the last time Dextergave up 50 points in a season, much less in one game?

Here’s a preview of this weekend’s winners, starting with aThursday night special.

West Lincoln at Mize: The Bulldogs wanted to play this Region4-1A game a day early so they could go scout next week’s stateplayoff opponent. Mize 35-14.

Enterprise at Bogue Chitto: It’s a thrilla in Manilla and aRumble in the Jungle as the Yellow Jackets try to end a long losingstreak to the Bobcats. Enterprise 18-17.

Brookhaven at East Central: It’s a long, 4-hour ride to Hurleybut the Panthers will be rewarded for their patience in the openinground of the state playoffs. Brookhaven 28-19.

Lawrence County at D’Iberville: A mean, stingy defense awaitsthe Cougars tomorrow night. D’Iberville 21-7.

Richton at Wesson: Cobras clear their first hurdle in the stateplayoffs. Wesson 29-12.

Carthage at Franklin County: Bulldogs have the home fieldadvantage and a playoff victory. Franklin County 21-8.

Gautier at McComb: Tigers take care of business and edge theGators. McComb 21-14.

St. Stanislaus at South Pike: Eagles are aiming for a Class 4Astate title rematch with Clarksdale. South Pike 35-10.

North Pike at Newton County: Jaguars should make a strongshowing but the hosts are toughest on their home turf. NewtonCounty 24-21.

In other area games, Parklane should sack Central Private 18-8and Jackson Prep should punish Copiah Academy 32-12.

After making a few laps around the King Field track, Hoop looksat Saturday’s collegiate scene.

Ole Miss at Georgia: Defense! Defense! Defense! Rebels don’thave enough defense to stop the Bulldogs. Georgia 34-20.

Mississippi State at Alabama: Ouch! The Crimson Tide boasts toomuch power for the struggling Dawgs. Alabama 39-13.

Southern Miss at Alabama-Birmingham: Perhaps the Golden Eagleswill be angry after getting embarrassed at TCU. Southern Miss24-14.

Alabama A&M at Jackson State: The Tigers are on the ropesand in a corner so they should be ready to fight. Jackson State38-28.

Alcorn State at Valley State: Wow! Johnny Thomas has the Bravesheaded in the right direction. Alcorn 35-18.

In other Magnolia State games, Delta State should dump OuachitaBaptist 24-10, Mississippi College should clip Louisiana College21-20, Rhodes should edge Millsaps 17-14 and Belhaven should eludeUnion 22-14.