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District 7 baseball makes good show in State Games

Congratulations are in order for the District 7 high schoolbaseball team. The 18 players from the southwest area of theMagnolia State finished third in the State Games of Mississippi atMeridian.

Considering the high level of talent in each district, theyaccomplished much. Representing this area were Bud Britt (RHP/IF)Brookhaven, Nick Helmstetter (CF/RHP) Brookhaven, Kolby Byrd (C)Brookhaven Academy, Corey Dickerson (IF/RHP) Brookhaven Academy,Ryan Kennedy (LHP) Enterprise, Ben McDowell (LHP) Franklin County,Jordan Hunt (OF/RHP) Franklin County, Ben Slaton (C) McComb,Dontrell Sargent (3B/C) McComb, Josh Smith (OF) Parklane, BlakeBrown (RHP/SS) Parklane, Eric Boyd (1B/RHP) Parklane, Kyle Adams(IF) Parklane, Casey Paulk (RHP/OF) North Pike, Tyler Reeves(RHP/OF) Lawrence County, Matt Barnes (RHP/3B) Trinity, BrianSanderson (OF) Trinity, and Luke Brumfield (IF) Adams CountyChristian School.

Coaching the District 7 squad were Dustin Lott of Brookhaven andJay Rayborn of Loyd Star. Ask them about the experience and they’lltell you how much they enjoyed it. However, it took them a few daysto recover from the exhausting schedule.

In the opening round last Thursday, District 7 beat District 3out of the Delta 10-4 as Byrd homered and Paulk pitched the win. Inthe second round, they lost a 12-2 decision to District 6 (Jacksonarea) but rebounded to beat District 4 (Columbus area) 8-6. Theywere eliminated 13-2 by District 6, the eventual champion.

Districts 7 and 4 tied for third and received bronze medals.District 8 (Gulf Coast) was runner-up and took home silvermedals.

For sure, the competition was fast and furious. In the win overDistrict 4, Kennedy, a southpaw, tossed 5 scoreless innings and gotthe win. Reeves and Barnes provided relief pitching and Britt gotthe save.

Versus the Delta, Boyd homered twice. Reeves also homered in thecompetition.

Coach Lott said the District 7 players did a commendable jobagainst top-notch competition. “I felt honored to have theopportunity to coach them.”

According to Lott, the dormitory headquarters on the Meridiancampus were spartan at best. There were no televisions in therooms, just a mattress and metal frame bed. “We played a lot ofcard games.”

Lott and Rayborn shouldered the responsibility of riding herd ona group of energetic teenagers who are rising juniors andseniors.

Certainly, District 7 has some gifted baseball players but notnearly enough when you compare it to other districts. District 7only has one Class 5A high school to draw players from and Natchezhas a mediocre baseball program at best. Natchez is best known forits basketball and track.

Two other Class 3A schools, Wilkinson and Amite Counties, arenot recognized for their baseball programs. Track and basketballare strong.

By comparison, the District 5 (Hattiesburg area) has 6 or 7Class 5A schools. District 6 (Jackson area) has 13 or 14, plus MPSAsuperpowers JA, MRA, Jackson Prep and Hillcrest.

Lott said District 6 boasts four players who were strongDivision I scholarship prospects.

Two of the area’s top rising seniors, left-handed pitchersPaxton King of Brookhaven and Mandela Mingo of Columbia, didn’tplay for District 7 because of membership on summer traveling teamsand schedule conflicts with the date of the State Games.

The District 7 squad made the best showing in the State Gamessince 2000. Again, congrats to players and coaches.

Need a motel room in Brookhaven for the week of July 6-13?

Forget it. Travelers will have to find lodging in Pike, Copiah,Adams, Lawrence and Hinds Counties. There is no room in the localinns.

The logjam is due to the Dixie Girls State Fastpitch SoftballTournament. According to tournament organizer Pam Rushing ofFranklin County, over 40 teams from across the state will competeon five different age levels at the Hansel King Sportsplex. Theyalso will use the BHS facility located next to Mamie Martin schoolfor the oldest a.k.a. Debs (age 16-18).

Rushing predicts a turnout of 3,-4,000 people during thetournament. They will watch over 500 girls play fastpitch. It willgenerate much interest and revenue for local businesses.

Franklin County’s 13-14-year-old all-stars were state runners-upin 2004.

Meanwhile, the double-elimination Dixie Youth Baseball LeagueAAA Subdistrict Six Tournament cranks up next Thursday, July 5, atKeystone Park. That means more ball on the local scene.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mailsports@dailyleader.com