• 57°

Slowpitch state playoffs begin

The long march to the slowpitch softball state championshipsbegins Thursday for several area high schools. Brookhaven andLawrence County in Class 4A, North Pike in Class 3A, Wesson inClass 2A and West Lincoln, Bogue Chitto and Enterprise in Class 1Ahave state title dreams.

Following the Mississippi High School Activities Associationformat, the top two teams in each division host opening roundaction, which features a best-of-three series. The third and fourthplace teams must travel to play champs and runners-up in otherdivisions.

Brookhaven hosts West Jones and Lawrence County hosts WayneCounty in 4A. North Pike hosts Purvis in 3A, Wesson hostsEnterprise-Clarke in 2A, West Lincoln hosts Stringer and BogueChitto hosts Puckett in 1A. Enterprise must travel to Mize.

Winners of the first round advance to next Tuesday’s secondround. Championship finals are Saturday Oct. 23, in the Jacksonarea.

Brookhaven (22-3) lost in the South State 4Asemifinals last year, bowing to Lawrence County. Coach LisaCovington believes her Lady Panthers are capable of advancingfarther this season.

“We’ve had an outstanding season,” said Covington, who is in her11th year at the helm. “Hopefully, we can keep it up in theplayoffs. We have to continue hitting the ball and playing gooddefense.”

Covington has five seniors on her team and four of them arestarters. They include third baseman Kayla Prince, second basemanAllyson Wallace, left fielder Lauren Smith, left-center fielderTaylor Crane and reserve outfielder Casi Langston.

The Lady Panthers start Thursday’s best-of-three series withWest Jones at 4 p.m.

Although Covington lost just one senior off of last year’s team,she said several adjustments have been made. “We only have twopeople playing the position they played last year. I lost fourstarters and three of them quit before the season started.”

Brookhaven had claimed four forfeit wins over Terry and SouthPike when the two division foes failed to field a team after theseason schedule had been finalized. However, the Mississippi HighSchool Activities Association recently ruled the forfeits would notbe added to Brookhaven’s victory total.

Lawrence County has made the best of a majorrebuilding campaign, finishing runner-up to Brookhaven in theDivision 6-4A race. Last year the Lady Cougars won South State andlost to New Hope in the state finals.

Coach Tarvey Ward has three seniors on his LCHS varsity squad.They are catcher Ellie Fairburn, pitcher Kaila Givens andleft-centerfielder Cori Walker.

“We have an opportunity to make another strong run,” said Ward.”It helps to have some luck, too.”

The first game with Wayne County begins at 5:30 p.m.

North Pike (15-12), coached by Bogue Chittoproduct Sonya Wallace, captured the Division 7-3A crown in a majorrebuilding year. The Lady Jaguars are fresh from a big win overBrookhaven..

Their series with Purvis begins at 5 p.m.

West Lincoln (22-6), coached by Andrew Redd,hopes to make another strong showing in the Class 1A stateplayoffs. They host Stringer, the. No. 4 team out of Division6-1A.

The Lady Bears have won the Division 7-1A title three straightyears. Last year they lost to Union in the South State finals,repeating the 2002 finish.

“We hope to match up with Union again,” said Redd. “It would bein South state finals again.”

Third baseman Holli Smith and left-centerfielder AshleyPalomarez, who were sidelined by injuries, have both practiced thisweek.

Redd has three seniors on the squad in Palomarez, first basemanAlicia Kennedy and second baseman Lauren Smith.

“We must play well in every series,” said Redd. “If we playclean defense, we should be okay.”

The best-of-three series starts at 5 p.m.

Bogue Chitto (19-8), coached by Scott Leggett,plays Puckett at 2 p.m. Thursday. The Lady ‘Cats were runners-up toWest Lincoln in the Division 7-1A race.

Enterprise (10-7), coached by Steve Sasser,visits Mize Thursday. The Lady Yellow Jackets finished No. 3 in thedivision race.

Wesson (8-12), coached by Jemmye Ann Helms,hosts Enterprise-Clarke. The first game begins at 5:30.

The Lady Cobras lost a 7-3 decision to St. Andrew’s in aDivision 6-2A title showdown yesterday.