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Slowpitch girls softball season kicks off today

High school slowpitch softball action kicks off today for WestLincoln, Bogue Chitto, Wesson and Lawrence County. Brookhaven,Enterprise and Franklin County begin their seasons Saturday.

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West Lincoln hosts a three-team, season-opener beginning at 3:30p.m. with teams from Wesson and North Pike. Bogue Chitto, under thedirection of first-year coaches Scott and Denise Leggett,entertains Natchez for two varsity games, starting at 5 and 6p.m.

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Lawrence County, coached by Tarvey and Suzie Ward, travel toNatchez to face the Cathedral Green Wave for a junior varsity andvarsity game. The JV kicks off at 6 followed by the varsity at7.

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Saturday, Lisa Covington’s Brookhaven Lady Panthers open up athome hosting Pearl and Madison Central for their Classic beginningat 10 a.m.

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The Enterprise Lady Yellow Jackets entertain five teams in theirtourney starting at 10 a.m. Enterprise faces Franklin County in theopener and Tylertown at 4 p.m. in the finale. Other teams includeMt. Olive, Prentiss and Salem.

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Brookhaven Academy’s fastpitch softball team kicked off itsseason Thursday night at Centreville. They are coached by MikeRhodus.

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West Lincoln finished the 2003 season, 25-10. The LadyBears lost two starters to graduation. They were Lyndsay Franklin,left center and Emily Richardson, left fielder.

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“It’s been going good,” said West Lincoln coach AndrewRedd. “Our infield is pretty well settled. It’s a tossup in theoutfield. We’ll let some different ones play.”

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In tonight’s three-team tournament, West Lincoln hostsNorth Pike at 3:30, Wesson faces North Pike at 4:30 and WestLincoln entertains Wesson at 5;30.

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Redd talked about the Division 7-1A race. “Salem isgoing to be one of the better teams. Bogue Chitto is alwayscompetitive.”

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Starters back for the Lady Bears include seniors BritneyPhillips at pitcher; Alicia Kennedy on first base, Lauren Smith atsecond base; Ashley Palomarez in left centerfield; junior BrittneeSmith at shortstop and freshman Holli Smith at thirdbase.

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Outfielders joining Palomarez will be April Kennedy, ajunior, and sophomores Heather Huff and Amanda Miller. Seeingaction from the junior high ranks are Kacey Smith, Keri Easley andMeagan Neal.

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Redd wants the Lady Bears to do better than winningdistrict and advancing to South State.

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“It was a tossup last year in district,” stated Redd.”One of the goals we set is we want to win the district. Union hasput us out of the South State finals twice. We feel we can gobeyond that step. We were South State runners-up and districtchamps the last two years. We need to take it farther thisyear.”

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“We’re looking for a a lot of good things this season,”added Redd.

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Enterprise kicks off its season Saturday morning hostinga six-team tourney. The host Lady Jackets play the 10 a.m. openeragainst Franklin County and the 4 p.m. finale against Tylertown.Other teams participating include Salem, Mt. Olive andPrentiss.

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Under the direction of Steve Sasser, the Lady Jacketsfinished the 2003 season with a 12-10 record. Enterprise lost twoplayers to graduation, Vivian Lang, an outfielder. and ErinThornhill, a pitcher.

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“We have six seniors back,” said Sasser. “We will havefour seniors starting. We are not extremely experienced. We havesome players that are going to have to step up.”

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The seniors include Kaylin Burke, Deanna Albritton, JanaBrister, Monica Nations, Amber Baxter and BrandyBaudoin.

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The Jacket varsity and junior varsity will total 27girls this season. Thirteen players make up the varsitysquad.

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“This bunch is the kind of team that can go either way,”explained Sasser. “We can be pretty good or not successful. Theyhave good chemistry. They lift up each other. We have to focus ondefense. We are starting three rookies on theinfield.”

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On the mound for the Lady Jackets is junior AmandaPrice.

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“She is a rookie.” stated Sasser.

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Joining Price in the infield are Monica Nations ascatcher; Melinda Brister at first base; Melane Rutland at secondbase; Casey Rutland at shortstop and Alisha Mason at thirdbase.

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Playing in the outfield are Deanna Albritton in left;Burks in left center; Whitney Kyzar in right center and Katie Huxin right.

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Starter Sandy Baudoin sustained an injury during thesummer and will miss the season.

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Hitting will be a key for Enterprise this season. “Weare hitting the ball better in practice,” stated Sasser. “That is apositive side. If we can get some crucial base hits, we’ll beokay.”

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Sasser talked about the division. “West Lincoln is theodds on favorite to be battling for the state championship. BogueChitto has some athletes, eight or nine good fast, strong athletes.Coach (Scott and Denise) Leggett will put them through the grind.We hope we’ll be good. It will be a battle.

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We are ready to play,” added Sasser. “Lets see whatwe’ve got.”

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Lawrence County debuts tonight at Natchez Cathedral fora doubleheader. Cougar coaches Tarvey and Susie Ward will field 22players for the 2004 season. Nine members of the squad arefreshmen.

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The Wards were selected as The DAILY LEADER’S Coach ofthe Year on the 2003 All-Area Slowpitch Softball Team.

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Eight starters graduated from last year’s 31-6 squadthat made it to the championship game of the Class 4A statetournament.

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“We have been working hard,” said Ward. “We have a goodattitude and just three seniors.”

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The three seniors include Ellie Fairburn, utilityplayer; Corey Walker, outfielder/pitcher and Kayla Givens, startingpitcher /infielder.

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Ward said they have five starters back and several youngplayers competing hard to start at the otherpositions.

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Lawrence is expected to be a contender again for theDivision 6-4A title. Ward feels the toughest competition will comefrom their biggest rival, the Brookhaven LadyPanthers.

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“Brookhaven is a big rivalry,” explained Ward. “Weanticipate a hard game with them.

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We are going to have to play hard to be competitive thisyear,” continued Ward. “We think Terry is very capable andcompetitive. McComb will be a lot tougher this year.”

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Ward said they are definitely in a rebuildingyear.

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“We have a lot of young girls,” stated Ward. “Our juniorvarsity team hasn’t lost a game in the last two years. They arequality and knowledgeable. It ought to be an excitingyear.”

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Ward talked about his team’s goals for theyear.

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“Our number one goal is to have fun,” said Ward. “Andour No. 2 is to improve as individuals, practice sportsmanship andbe knowledgeable of the rules and how to play. Finally, No. 3 is towin district. I hope we are a surprise team thisyear.”

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Bogue Chitto kicks off its season tonight, entertainingNatchez for a doubleheader. The Lady Bobcats are under thedirection first-year coaches Scott and Denise Leggett.

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Wesson is coached by Jemmye Ann Helms. She has 11varsity players. The Lady Cobras kick off their campaign in theWest Lincoln tourney tonight.