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Lady Panthers make softball debut Sat.

Coach Lisa Covington unveils her 2004 Brookhaven slowpitchsoftball team Saturday in a Classic tripleheader. The Lady Pantherswill play Pearl and Warren Central at the A.L. Lott Sportsplex,starting at 10:30 a.m.

Covington lost one senior to graduation in all-star shortstopMegan Bateman, a Copiah-Lincoln Community College signee. She isoptimistic about the upcoming campaign.

“We have a good group coming back,” said Covington. “We arelooking forward to a good year with those returning girls.”

Two of Covington’s returning starters are slowed by injuries.Brittany Smith, a junior pitcher, is hobbled by an ankle injury.Shortstop Ashley Sykes has a twisted knee.

Other starters returning for the Lady Panthers are third basemanKayla Prince, second baseman Allyson Wallace , leftfielder LaurenSmith and left-centerfielder Taylor Crane.

Crane (.483), Sykes (.611), Smith (21-8) and Bateman (.364) werenamed to The DAILY LEADER’s All-Area Slowpitch Team in 2003.Bateman was recognized as the DL’s Defensive Player of theYear.

The Lady Panthers were runners-up to Lawrence County in lastyear’s division race, finishing 21-6. They made it to the thirdround of the state playoffs, losing to Lawrence County.

This is Covington’s 11th year as head coach of the LadyPanthers. John Ogden is in his 11th year as an assistant coach.

Asked about the Division 6-4A race, Covington said, “LawrenceCounty should be strong in our division. Terry is very competitive.McComb should be good, too.”

Also in the division are South Pike and Wingfield

The rest of Brookhaven’s home games will be played at the HanselKing Sportsplex. That facility has been reserved for this weekend’sASA Class E State Tournament.