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Keyes pleased with results

MONTICELLO — Second-year Lawrence County head baseball coachCory Keyes knew he had lots of talent coming back on the 2006Cougars baseball team. Keyes, who had been an assistant coach atLawrence County to Chris Clark for two years before, was pleasedwith the season results.

Lawrence County (30-6) won the Division 6-4A championship andadvanced to the semifinals of the state playoffs before falling toPetal 4-3 in game 3 of a two-day, rain-delayed contest.

For his team’s accomplishments, Keyes has been named The DAILYLEADER’S All-Area Baseball Coach of the Year for the secondstraight year.

“It’s an honor,” said Keyes. “Last year and this year, it was asurprise.”

Keyes thanked his coaching staff for all their hard work. Theyinclude assistant coaches Craig Davis, James Grubbs and CoryRogers.

“I’d like to thank Lawrence County principal Daryl J. Scoggin,Athletic Director Mike Davis and Superintendent of EducationRussell Caudill,” continued Keyes.

“And thank the Daily Leader for covering our games.”

Keyes, 26, replaced Clark who is still serving in a full-timeposition in the Mississippi National Guard. Clark is living inPetal and was able to make several games at Lawrence County thisyear.

Based on last year’s success and the four talented seniors hehad coming back, Keyes was positive about this year’s Cougarteam.

“There was a lot of anticipation to be good,” said Keyes. “Youwant to get back to where you were last year. We had a real goodgroup coming back.”

Keyes had four seniors on the team who will be playing at Co-Linnext season. The seniors were Jake Russell, Taebyus Smith, MartyBallard and Johnathan Stephens.

Their leadership was a key to the team’s success.

Keyes looked back on the season and talked about some of the biggames in the district.

“We know Brookhaven is a big game for us,” said Keyes. “Terry isalways tough. You have to go through Terry.”

Their game against district rival Florence early in the year,allowed Keyes to see just how competitive and tough this team ofCougars were.

“We were down 5 runs in the seventh inning,” explained Keyes.”We scored 9 runs and won the game. All district games are big. Itwas huge when it came down to winning the district.”

And the third game of the South State finals against Petal atMonticello finals was huge. “It was a big game for this community.Petal is a thorn in our side.”

Keyes, who teaches technology discovery, is a native ofMonticello. He graduated from Lawrence County High School in 1997.He played outfield for LCHS ormer baseball coach Tony Davis from1994-97.

Keyes attended Copiah-Lincoln Community College and obtained hisbachelor’s degree from Southern Miss. He majored in coaching andsports administration.

Keyes began coaching baseball in 2002. He spent one year withBrookhaven High coach Randy Spring and the Panthers before movingto Lawrence County. He also coaches football and soccer atLCHS.

Keyes is married to the former Jennifer Lambert of Monticello.She is an x-ray technician at Southwest Mississippi RegionalMedical Center in McComb. They are members of Monticello BaptistChurch and are expecting a baby girl next month.

“I’d like to thank my wife Jennifer for supporting me,” saidKeyes.

Keyes also wanted to thank the players and their parents.

“You want to have a group of kids who do what you want,”explained Keyes. “Everyday they came to work. There were no daysoff. This team has been a pleasure to coach.”

Keyes acknowledged that Lawrence County has a long tradition inbaseball, dating back to the days when Jimmie Davis wascoaching.

“Baseball is big here in Lawrence County,” said Keyes. “Everykid on this team is home grown. These guys grew up here and playedin the ball park. This is a family team.

“Good players make good coaches,” added Keyes.