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Lady Panthers sweep West Jones in opener

The Brookhaven Lady Panthers made a statement Thursday night bysweeping West Jones in the first round of the playoffs at theHansel King Sportsplex. They are going after the Class 4A stateslowpitch softball title.

The Lady Panthers crushed the Lady Mustangs 11-1 in the firstgame and 15-5 in the second game of the best-of-three series.

Brookhaven (24-3) is on the road next Tuesday and facesD’Iberville in the second round of the playoffs. D’Iberville sweptMendenhall 10-4 and 6-0 Thursday night.

“We played great defense,” said Brookhaven head coach LisaCovington. “We finally started hitting the ball.”

Brookhaven had 19 hits in each game. West Jones had 12 hits.

West Jones head coach Wendy Grafton was pleased with her team’sseason. “We played well. We are young. This was exciting.”

West Jones, the No. 4 team out of Division 4-4A, wrapped up itsseason with a 4-12 record.

Brittany Smith was the winning pitcher in the doubleheader.Morgan Graves absorbed the loss.

Brookhaven 11, West Jones 1

Following two scoreless inning in the first game, Brookhavenexploded for 6 runs in the third and a 6-0 lead. Lauren Smith ledoff with a single and stole second base. Two outs later, BrittanySmith singled to score Lauren Smith for the first run. Ashley Sykesdoubled in Brittany Smith for the 2-0 lead. Allyson Wallace hit asingle to drive in Lauren Smith for a 3-0 advantage. Christi Martinand Terri Hodges singled to load the bases. Kayla Prince belted ahard single which scored Wallace and Martin to give the hosts a 5-0edge. Kelly Vinson followed with an RBI single to drive in Hodgesfor the sixth run.

West Jones cut the deficit to 6-1 in the top of the fourthinning. Genny Freeman, Brittany Barlow and Brandy Sumrall singledto load the bases. Brookhaven made a double play on M.J. Waltersgrounder as Freeman scored .

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Lady Panthers came backwith 4 runs to push their lead to 10-1. Taylor Crane, BrittanySmith and Sykes singled to score Crane for the 7th run. Wallacesmashed a triple to the fence that scored Brittany Smith and Sykesfor the 8th and 9th runs. With two outs, Prince belted a hardsingle to score Wallace with the 10th run.

Brookhaven added one run in the bottom of the sixth, Sykes,Wallace and Martin singled to load the bases. Hodges nailed a hardsingle to score Sykes for the 11th run and ended the game.

Katie Smith and Wallace added a single at the plate for the ladyPanthers.

Brookhaven 15, West Jones 5

In the second game, the Lady Panthers wasted no time and jumpedon the Lady Mustangs for a 4-0 lead in the top of the first. Cranewas walked and Brittany Smith singled. Sykes followed with a rip tothe center field fence for a 3-run inside-the-park home run. Martinfollowed with single. With 2 outs, Vinson smashed a double up themiddle to score Martin.

West Jones picked up 2 runs in the bottom to cut the deficit to4-2. Freeman singled followed by Sumrall and Walters with a singleto load the bases. Freeman was tagged out at third base. CatieLyles drilled a hit to the fence to score Sumrall and Walters.

Lyles tried to make it a home run but was thrown out severalfeet from home plate on a rifle-straight throw from left fielderLauren Smith to catcher Martin to end the rally.

In the top of the second, Kayla Smith led off with a single. Twobatters later, Sykes rips a shot to the centerfield fence for a2-run inside-the-park homer that pushed the Lady Panthers lead to6-2.

Brookhaven added two more runs in the top of the third whenPrince tripled to score Hodges and VInson singled to drive inPrince for the 8-2 lead for the hosts.

In the top of the fourth, the Lady Panthers exploded for threemore runs to push their lead to 11-2. Brittany Smith and Sykessingled. Smith scored on a double by Wallace. Martin’s triplescored Sykes and Wallace.

West Jones came back with 3 runs in the bottom of the fourth tocut the Lady Panthers’ lead to 11-5. Barlow and Sumrall singled.Walters belted a triple to score both runners. Devin Payne singledto drive in Walters for the final West Jones run.

Brookhaven picked up some insurance in the top of the fifth with5 runs for a 15-5 lead. Vinson, Lauren Smith and Kayla Smithsingled. Vinson was tagged out at 3rd base. Brittany Smith smasheda 3-run, inside-the -park homer to push the lead to 14-5. Wallacesingled and scored on a single by Martin for the 15th Brookhavenrun.

The Lady Panthers ended the game with a double play. They onlycommitted 2 errors in the sweep.

“We hit the ball real hard,” added Covington.