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Stokes named MPV on DL Dream Team

Kelly Stokes gave Lawrence County fastpitch softball fans aseason to remember. The senior pitcher directed the Lady Cougars toa third place finish in the Class 4A state playoffs. Only anextra-inning, 1-0 loss to eventual state champion East Central keptthem from realizing their ultimate goal.

Stokes, a right-hander, is a Delta State University signee. Shehas earned the title of Miss Softball on The DAILY LEADER’s 2004All-Area Fastpitch Team. As a senior, Stokes posted a 31-6 record,striking out 363 batters and walking 31 in 229 innings. She had a1.19 ERA. At the plate, Stokes achieved a .333 average.

Pitcher Meleah Brown of Bogue Chitto and catcher Gina McCloud ofLawrence County have been selected co-Defensive Players of theYear. Centerfielder Ashley Autman of Lawrence County and catcherMegan Bateman of Brookhaven are Co-Offensive Players of theYear.

Joining Stokes on the All-Area pitching staff are Jackie Stoweof Copiah Academy and Ashley Sykes of Brookhaven. The othercatchers are Emily VanLandingham of North Pike and Lauren Smith ofWest Lincoln.

Infielders include Kayla Smith and Marley Porter of BogueChitto, Stacy Smith of Lawrence County, Ashley Palomarez of WestLincoln and Allyson Wallace of Brookhaven.

Outfielders are Autman, Brittney Alexander of North Pike andKaylin Burke of Enterprise.

Utility players are Caroline Burks of Loyd Star and Amber Beesonof Brookhaven Academy. The designated hitter is Emily Langley ofBrookhaven Academy.

The Dream Team was selected by members of the DL SportsDepartment, with input furnished by area coaches.

Stokes was eager to share the accolades with her teammates. “Icherish my teammates more than anything. I love them likesisters.

“We got along so well as a team,” Stokes continued. “Myteammates saved me several times.”

Lawrence County head coach Beronica Stringfellow, The DL’s Coachof the Year, said Stokes was the catalyst in her team’s success.”Kelly really improved her confidence. She wasn’t scared to throwthe ball.

“The movement on her ball really helped her. Kelly threw adropball and a changeup. We hardly threw any fastballs. She justkept the batters off balance.”

McCloud, a Mississippi State signee, was the other half ofLawrence County’s 1-2 punch. “Gina was behind the plate and Kellyknew the ball was going to be caught,” said Stringfellow. “Ginadoes an outstanding job behind the plate.”

McCloud also batted well, posting a .384 batting average. Sheand Stokes have been named to the Mississippi Association ofCoaches All-Star Team.

Bateman, the only senior on Brookhaven’s 15-6 team, batted .421her senior season. She stole 41 of 43 bases.

“Megan has speed and she can bat from both sides of the plate,”said BHS coach Lisa Covington. “She’s got a very strong arm andshe’s a gutsy, aggressive player. She was our team leader.”

Bateman has signed with Copiah-Lincoln Community College. Shealso will play in the June 15 All-Star Game.

Autman batted .365 this season and stole 14 bases. She hassigned with the University of Southern Mississippi.

“Ashley makes outstanding plays in the outfield,” saidStringfellow. She makes diving catches.”

Brown was instrumental in Bogue Chitto’s march to the Class 1Astate playoffs. She compiled a 12-5 record, posting 119 strikeoutsand 43 walks. As a batter, she averaged .386, hitting 1 home runand 2 triples.

“Meleah is an outstanding pitcher,” said BC coach Duane Burt.”She also hits the ball with power.”

Jackie Stowe, a senior, led Coach Terry Bauer’s Lady Colonels onthe mound with a 23-9 record. She struck out 120 batters and had a1.17 ERA. She has signed a scholarship with Co-Lin.

Ashley Sykes, a sophomore, posted a 14-6 record for the LadyPanthers. She accounted for 84 strikeouts on the mound and had a.301 batting average.

Emily VanLandingham, a junior, batted . 328 for Coach SonyaWallace’s Lady Jaguars.

Lauren Smith, a junior, batted .438 for Coach Luke Addison’sLady Bears, helping them climb within one game of making the stateplayoffs.

Kayla Smith, a junior, batted .455 for the Lady Bobcats whoreached the second round of the state playoffs.

Stacy Smith, a senior first baseman, batted .330 for the LCHSLady Cougars. She has signed a scholarship with Co-Lin.

Ashley Palomarez, a junior, batted .458 for the Lady Bears.

Allyson Wallace, a junior, batted .378 for the LadyPanthers.

Marley Porter, a senior, sparkled at second base and batted .388for the Lady Bobcats.

Emily Langley, a sophomore, batted .472 for the BA Lady Cougarswho are coached by Mike Rhodus.

Caroline Burks, a sophomore, posted a 10-8 record for Coach JanDelaughter’s Lady Hornets.

Amber Beeson, a senior, batted .413 for the BA Lady Cougars. Shehas signed with Co-Lin.

Brittney Alexander, a senior, batted .424 for the Lady Jaguars.She has signed with Southwest Mississippi Community College.

Kaylin Burke, a junior, batted .355 for Coach Steve Sasser’sLady Yellow Jackets.