Stokes handcuffs Petal; LCHS Lady Cougars win

Published 5:00 am Monday, April 12, 2004

MONTICELLO — Kelly Stokes showcased her pitching skillsSaturday afternoon and the Lawrence County Cougars cruised to apair of victories over Petal’s Lady Panthers in the opening roundof the Class 4A state fastpitch softball playoffs. Stokes grewstronger as the day wore on, beating Petal 4-1 in the opener and6-1 in the nightcap.

In the finale, Stokes struck out 15 batters, including 6 of thelast 7 she faced. She didn’t issue a base on balls and scattered 3hits.

In the opener, Stokes gave up 8 hits, struck out 7 and wakednone.

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“My drop ball was my best pitch today,” said Stokes, a seniorright-hander who has signed with Delta State University. “I didn’tget tired. I’m used to going all day long.”

The victory advances the Lady Cougars (26-5) to the secondround. They’ll play a single game on the road Thursday and returnhome Saturday for the second game in another best-of-threeseries.

“I couldn’t do it without my teammates,” Stokes pointed out.”They play very good defense.”

The Lady Cougars did not commit an error in the twinbill. LCHShead coach Beronica Stringfellow complimented her team’s defensiveeffort.

“We had some good catches in the outfield and in the infield,”said Stringfellow. “Kelly got warmed up and she was awesome in thesecond game. Our batting was stronger, too, because we had seentheir pitcher.”

Katie McCreary (15-8), a sophomore right-hander absorbed bothlosses for Petal. She struck out 2 batters and walked 4 in theopener, giving up 7 hits. In the finale, McCreary struck out 3batters and walked 3, allowing 12 hits.

Petal coach Wendy Hogue said her team needed more runs to besuccessful. “You can’t win if you don’t score. We didn’t get thehits when we needed them.

“Stokes is tough but we should have beat her in the first game,”Hogue continued. “We came out determined to hit the ball and beather.”

Lawrence Co. 6, Petal 1

First baseman Stacy Smith went 4-for-4 in the nightcap. Herfirst-inning double scored 2 runs. Avery Barham had drawn a walkand Gina McCloud smashed a single off McCreary’s glove.

In the second inning, Ashley Autman’s double dropped in behindsecond base to score courtesy runner Rhyan Garrett for a 3-0lead.

Smith, a Copiah-Lincoln Community College signee, drove in thefourth run with an RBI single to left, scoring McCloud, aMississippi State signee. Stokes came sliding home with the fifthrun on a ground ball by Heather Sanders, making it 5-0.

In the fourth, Sanders launched a triple over the rightfielder’s head. McCloud lashed a triple to right-center and theLady Cougars went up 6-0.

Petal’s Summer Clark poked a double to right center in thebottom of the fourth, breaking up Stokes’ perfect game. She scoredon an RBI grounder by Molly Herrin.

Lawrence Co. 4, Petal 1

The Lady Cougars exploded for 3 runs in the bottom of the firstto erase a 1-0 deficit in the opener. Stokes delivered a 2-RBIsingle. Emily Smith singled home Stacy Smith.

In the sixth, Barham’s double dropped in behind second base andAutman raced home for a 4-1 advantage. Barham doubled and singledin the victory.

Leadoff batter Shelly Berry tripled and singled for Petal.