Lady Panthers begin slowpitch season

Published 5:00 am Thursday, August 4, 2005

Despite being swept two games by East Central in the Class 4Aslowpitch softball state semifinals last year, there is plenty ofoptimism in the Brookhaven Lady Panther camp for 2005. There areveterans at key positions.

“There will be some high expectations for this team this year,”said veteran Lady Panther head coach Lisa Covington, who isentering her 15th season, 13 as the field general. “We lost fiveseniors off last year’s team, but we will field a veteraninfield.”

Departures from the 2004 team that authored a 27-8 worksheet(Division 6-4A champions) were Allyson Wallace, Taylor Crane, KaylaPrince, Lauren Smith, and Casi Langston.

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Returning starters for ’05 include seniors Brittany Smith,Ashley Sykes, Kelly Vinson and Katie Smith; junior Christi Martinand sophomore Terri Hodges. Sykes, a standout shortstop, wasrecognized as The DAILY LEADER’s All-Area Player of the Year on the2004 Slowpitch Team.

“Our infield will be our strong suit,” added Covington, who willbe assisted by Chad Walker. Longtime assistant John Ogden hasbecome an assistant principal at Brookhaven High, replacing DonColeman who is now the director of the Brookhaven TechnicalCenter.

“Several players will be called upon to play in the outfield,too,” said Covington.

The defending Division 6-4A champions will face stiffcompetition from longtime nemesis Lawrence County, plus Terry andSouth Pike; along with newcomers Florence, Mendenhall and PortGibson.

“Lawrence County is our big rival,” said Covington. “Florencehad a good team last year.”

A change in the playoff format for this season allows only thetop two teams from each division to advance to the postseason.

The 2005 schedule will see plenty of competitive teams,including Pearl, North Pike, West Lincoln, Bogue Chitto; plus theBrookhaven and Clinton tournaments.

The Lady Panthers open their season Saturday at newlyrefurbished Mamie Martin Field, hosting North Pike and Pearl in adesignated MHSAA Classic. Brookhaven tackles North Pike at 10 a.m.,followed by Pearl versus North Pike at 11:15. The Lady Panthersmeet Pearl at 12:30 p.m.

“We are looking forward to playing at Mamie Martin for manyyears to come,” added Covington. “It is truly a nice place toplay.”