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‘Cats hope 3rd time a charm

BOGUE CHITTO — Coach Scott Leggett and his Bogue Chitto Lady’Cats believe the third time will be a charm. Leggett’s team ismaking a third consecutive appearance in the Class 1A StateChampionship Tournament Saturday. They face Ingomar at 11 a.m. atVA Fields in Jackson, located just off I-220.

The Lady ‘Cats (30-2) cruised through the South Mississippiplayoffs, winning six straight games in the playoffs. They sweptWest Lincoln Tuesday night at Stan Long Field, winning 9-0 and 13-3in the South State finals. They’ll face a familiar foe in Ingomar’sFalconettes.

Bogue Chitto lost to Ingomar two years ago in the state finals.They lost to Myrtle last year in the title series.

“Ingomar has a pretty good team,” said Leggett. “They arebasically the same girls they had up there two years ago. They havegood speed and play solid defense. They are a great hittingteam.”

By comparison, Leggett’s squad has shown steady improvement onoffense and defense. His offseason training regimen demandsdedication.

“Our girls have matured,” said Leggett. “This is probably thefirst time Bogue Chitto has had 30 wins in a season. These seniorsare 85-19 in the last three years. We play with a lot of heart.They play to win.”

Leggett, 31, is in his third year as head coach. His wife,Denise, serves as an assistant coach.

The Lady ‘Cats lost just one player off last year’s team,All-Area MVP Meleah Brown who signed a fastpitch scholarship withCopiah-Lincoln Community College.

There are six seniors on this year’s squad in pitcher LaToyaBraxton (.554 batting average), first baseman Dori Hall (.489),second baseman Devon Welch (.443), leftfielder Chelsey Miller(.618), left-centerfielder Candace Avants (.371) and pinch-hitterKimberlee Thomas (.450).

Also in the starting lineup are centerfielder Shaquille Burton(.552), shortstop Kelli Howard (.411), rightfielder Caitlin Owen(.293), third baseman Jessie Miller (.368) and catcher Blaine Myers(.345).

Burton, a junior, is the team’s top homer hitter with 8. Shealso leads the team in triples (6) and RBIs (57).

Braxton (29-2) said she and her teammates have improved sincelast season. “We have gotten stronger. We are playing together as ateam.”

Welch agreed. “We hit more as a team. We have moreteamwork.”

Hall, a tall infielder, paused during the Thursday interview toswat a bee that had landed on the back of Leggett’s shirt, slappingthe insect with her bare hand. She smiled and said, “We are on aroll right now. We want to keep it going and strive to beperfect.”

Ingomar Under New Coach

Ingomar (27-9), under the direction of first-year coach AndyWilbanks, won a best-of-three series over defending state championMyrtle for the North 1A title.

Wilbanks, a native of Ripley, is in his first year at Ingomar.He replaced Chris Kidd who moved to Nettleton.

“We are pretty good,” said Wilbanks. “We have a good defensiveteam.

“We have two seniors, Heather Deaton at first base, and AshleyHale, our left-centerfielder. We look to them for leadership.”

Deaton bats No. 3 in the order and boasts a .653 average. Halebats No. 2 and has a .486 average.

“Deaton is our best power hitter,” said Wilbanks. “We try to hitthe ball where they’re (defenders) not.”

Pitcher Brittani Gilliam is a right-hander who has fashioned a27-9 record at Ingomar.