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Spring Fling starts softball, baseball seasons

Fasten your seat belts!

The Spring Fling has arrived. It’s the height of the basketballplayoffs but spring sports are throwing some elbows and launchingtheir seasons, too.

Baseball and fastpitch softball are the first spring sports toget cranked up. Locally, Coach Randy Spring and his BrookhavenPanthers make their baseball debut Saturday at Wesson, meetingCoach Hugh Knight’s Cobras for a doubleheader. A junior varsitygame starts the action at 11 a.m., followed by the varsity at 1p.m.

Spring’s Panthers are defending division champions so thecompetition should be good. Knight replaced Philip Knight at thehelm and faces a major rebuilding campaign.

West Lincoln, coached by Andrew Redd, hosts a 4-team baseballclassic Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. The Bears meet Enterprisewhich is under the direction of Chris Smith, in the opener. BogueChitto, coached by Adam Moak, tackles Crystal Springs at noon.

Losers of the first two games play at 2 p.m., followed by thewinners at 4 p.m. All we need is sunshine, a dry field and warmerweather.

Loyd Star, under the direction of Coach Sidney Wheatley,launches its season Saturday at the Seminary Tournament. TheHornets, 2-time defending Division 6-2A champions, will play Mizeand North Forrest.

At Lawrence County, Coach Chris Clark and his Cougars areanticipating another good year after finishing runners-up toPicayune in the South State 4A playoffs. The Cougars play Saturdayin the St. Martin Tournament, meeting Vancleave at 1 p.m. and St.Martin at 3:30.

Coach Beronica Stringfellow and the Lawrence County Lady Cougarsare expected to be the team to beat in Class 4A fastpitch softballthis spring. They host Poplarville Friday, starting at 6 p.m.

At Brookhaven, Coach Lisa Covington takes over the fastpitchresponsibilities from Eric Stokes who has joined the BHS baseballstaff. Covington’s Lady Panthers are young, with just one senior onthe squad. They host the Ole Brook Classic Saturday, starting at 10a.m., at the Hansel King Sportsplex.

The Lady Panthers meet Coach Sonya Wallace and her North PikeLady Jaguars in the opener. Loyd Star, coached by Jan Delaughter,plays North Pike at noon. Brookhaven and Loyd Star collide at 2p.m.

After settling for a rain check last weekend, the BrookhavenDiamond Club’s Kids Baseball Clinic has been rescheduled forMonday, Feb. 23. It will start at 3:30 p.m. on Moyer Field and lastuntil 6:30. Coach Spring, his coaching staff and players willconduct the clinic.

Registration fee per child is $20. It includes a t-shirt andsports drink. Registration forms can be picked up at the BrookhavenSports Company. For more information, call 833-8223.

The high school soccer season came to a merciful end lastweekend in Jackson. The state championships were postponed one weekbecause of heavy rainfall but last Saturday’s weather wasn’t muchbetter. It was still raining and still cold and muddy.

Congratulations to the Our Lady Academy girls (Class 1A-2A-3A ),the Ridgeland girls (Class 4A) and the Tupelo girls (Class 5A) onwinning state championships. OLA beat West Lauderdale 2-0 inovertime, Ridgeland beat Gautier 4-1 in 4A and Tupelo beat Gulfport3-1 in 5A.

In boys action, the St. Stanislaus boys won 4A with a 2-0shutout of Pearl and Tupelo blanked Pascagoula 4-0 in 5A. MadisonSt. Joe won its fourth straight 1A-2A-3A championship with a 4-0win over West Lauderdale

On the local scene, the Brookhaven Youth Soccer Organization iscranking up its spring season. According to BYSO field commissionerClyde Sbravati, interest is high in the offseason program. It’ssort of like spring training in football.

Sbravati said there are four junior/senior high school age teamsparticipating, two boys and two girls. They play a 5-game schedulestarting in March and concluding in April. He said there are from30-40 girls in the older group.

Soccer is a skill sport so the offseason is critical todeveloping individual skills. Neither BHS varsity squad made it tothe state playoffs this year but both the girls and boys teams areloaded with young talent.

BHS head soccer coach Kevin Bower and his assistants, AmyCopeland and Brad Bland, have a promising group of playersreturning for next season. The key is to improve those skills. Itcan’t be done during the regular season which runs from November toFebruary.

Loyd Star joined the soccer ranks this year and had limitedsuccess but the future is bright if the players are dedicated totheir craft.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz at The DAILY LEADER, P.O. BOX551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mail sports@dailyleader.com