Lawrence Co. seeks more success

Published 5:00 am Thursday, April 28, 2005

MONTICELLO — Riding a victorious wave of momentum, the LawrenceCounty Cougars enter the semifinals of the South State Class 4Abaseball playoffs, looking for more success. They begin abest-of-three series with the East Central Hornets Friday night atJimmie Davis Park. Game time is 6 p.m.

The Cougars (25-5) and Hornets (19-9) will play Saturday atHurley, just north of Moss Point, also starting at 6 p.m. A thirdgame, if necessary will be played next Thursday, May 5, at LawrenceCounty.

Lawrence County first-year head coach Cory Keyes said his teamis anxious to get the semifinal series under way. Petal is playingTerry in the other South semifinals.

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Keyes saw his Cougars march through last weekend’s regionaltournament at Jimmie Davis Park undefeated. They shut out WayneCounty 7-0 in last Thursday’s opener. LCHS edged McComb 4-3 in thesecond test and clipped Quitman 6-5 in the title game.

“Our pitchers are doing a good job for me and our whole team ishitting the ball well,” said Keyes. The Cougars have accumulated aschool-record 30 home runs this season and set a new standard forvictories in one season.

Keyes was able to get three complete games from his startingpitchers. Sophomores Joseph Evans (6-1) and Trent Hartzog (9-1) andjunior Jake Russell (6-1).

“In the region we had to have a lot of pitching,” said Keyes.”All three of my starters threw complete games. We are in goodshape.”

The Cougars are a young squad, with just 3 seniors.Centerfielder Michael Thompson and second baseman Jeremy Williamsare in the starting lineup. J.P. Lewis serves as a courtesy runnerand pinch hitter.

East Central, the No.3 seed in the regional at Bay St. Louis,won the hard way. The Hornets beat George County 9-5 and No. 1 seedBay St. Louis 2-1 before losing to to Bay 4-3. They recovered tobeat the host team 7-3 in the finals.

“East Central is a real scrappy team,” said Keyes. “They playreal good defense and they have good pitching. They never lay downand they find a way to win.”

Leading the Hornets’ mound staff is senior Adam McQueen. The No.2 pitcher is J.R. Ballenger. They are coached by Gary Long.

According to Keyes, community support has been exceptionalduring the regional. “We had fantastic fan support last weekend.The best I’ve ever seen here.” Keyes is a 1997 LCHS grad.

Russell pitched the win over Wayne County last week. He gave up3 hits, struck out 10 batters and walked 2. Evans pitched theCougars past McComb. Hartzog got the victory over Quitman.