Panthers entertain N’east Lauderdale

Published 5:00 am Thursday, April 29, 2004

Brookhaven entertains Northeast Lauderdale’s Trojans Fridaynight for the opening game of the South State 4A semifinals. Actionbegins at 6 p.m. on Moyer Field.

Game Two is Saturday at Northeast Lauderdale which is locatedjust north of Meridian, starting at 3 p.m. If a third game isnecessary to determine the best-of-three series, it will be playedMonday at Brookhaven, starting at 6 p.m.

In the other South State finals series, Petal plays West Jones.The North 4A semifinals feature Ridgeland versus Oxford andPontotoc vs. Itawamba AHS.

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Northeast Lauderdale (22-9) resides in a baseball-rich area ofthe Magnolia State. They are coached by Steve Nelson who alsoserves as head football coach.

The host Trojans defeated D’Iberville in the region finals. Theyalso rebounded from a loss (5-4) to shut out the Warriors 7-0 inthe title game.

Asked about the Trojans, BHS head coach Randy Spring said, “Theyhave a pretty good pitcher (Cory Chance). He’s 10-2 right now.Their catcher is pretty good, too.”

Brookhaven has realized its best-ever record this season,winning 24 games and losing 6.

Spring said his Panthers displayed character and grit afterlosing 17-3 to Laurel Monday afternoon. They rebounded to eliminatethe Golden Tornadoes 8-3 in the region title game.

“I was real proud of our comeback,” said Spring. “It would havebeen easy to throw in the towel. Scotty (Smith) came back andpitched a real gutsy game.”

Smith (8-2), a senior right-hander, was pitching on two daysrest. He had won last Friday’s regional opener against GeorgeCounty, pitching 7 innings.

“We had been planning on using Scotty and Brooks (Hall) in that(title) game,” said Spring. “Scotty is very competitive. He willgive us a chance to win.”

Hall (8-1), a senior right-hander, pitched last Saturday’ssecond round victory over Laurel. He’s expected to start Friday’sgame against Northeast Lauderdale.

Spring said his scouting report on the Trojans is limited. “Iget the impression they swing the bats well. I assume we will needquality at-bats and execution. Defensively, we can’t give runsaway. We must execute and get the outs.”

Moyer Field has one of the deepest outfields in the high schoolranks. It is 320 feet down each line to the fence and 400 feet todeep center field. Obviously, the Panthers don’t have anoverpowering number of home runs for the season. They didn’t hitany in the regional.

Ole Brook junior Darius Perkins and senior catcher Adam Ogdenboth have 3 homers. Smith has 2 homers. W.T. King and Xavier Quallseach have one.

“We have some gap-type power but our park is so big,” saidSpring. “I think we’ve only hit two homers at home thisseason.”

According to Spring, there are some benefits to playing on aspacious field. “It has taught our pitchers to throw the ball overthe plate and make them hit it. We don’t walk many people.”

Spring said none of Laurel’s first 10 runs were earned in the17-3 loss. The Panthers committed 5 fielding errors and Laurelslugged back-to-back homers off Perkins.