Ole Brook leads state playoff action

Published 5:00 am Friday, April 18, 2008

Fresh from winning the Division 6-4A baseball championship, theBrookhaven Panthers hunt bigger game in the state playoffs whichbegin today across the Magnolia State. Brookhaven (23-6) plays atSouth Jones in Laurel tonight, starting at 6.

The best-of-three series continues Saturday on Moyer Field,starting at 2 p.m. If a third game is necessary to determine thefirst round champion, it will be 30 minutes after the second game’sconclusion.

Division 6-4A runner-up Lawrence County is at Quitman tonightfor an opening round test. Second game action is Saturday inMonticello, at Jimmie Davis Park. The Cougars (21-6), coached byCory Keyes, begin Game 2 at 3 p.m.

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Ole Brook coach Randy Spring said he had a limited scoutingreport on the South Jones Braves who are the No. 4 team out ofDivision 5-4A. “I know their top two pitchers are Tyler Fall andBlackledge.”

Spring said he plans to start senior southpaw Paxton King on themound tonight. King (7-0), a Southern Miss signee, has a 1.06 ERA.He has struck out 72 batters and walked 11, giving up 31 hits.

Right-handers Bud Britt (5-3) and Nick Helmstetter (5-1), andleft-hander Brandon Foster (4-2), are pitching leaders for thePanthers.

At the plate, Britt and Helmstetter both have 7 home runs. CodyRatcliff has 6 homers. As a team, the Panthers have hit 23homers.

Britt has a .495 batting average and 26 RBIs. King is batting.413 with 30 RBIs. Other batting leaders are Helmstetter (.397),Chris Dixon (.354), Brice Huckaby (.373), Zach Halliwell (.365),Jarvis Wilbert (.345), Ratcliff (.317) and Elliott McKee(.267).

“We are excited about being in the playoffs,” said Spring.

In 2004, the Panthers captured the 4A state title, beatingPontotoc in the championship finals.

Keyes said his information on Quitman was limited. The Cougarshaven’t played Quitman since 1991.

“I hear that Quitman likes to bunt a lot,” said Keyes. “Theyhave two pretty good pitchers.”

Area Baseball

In other first round action tonight, Loyd Star hosts Forest onSmith Field, Enterprise hosts Lake and Wesson visits Philadelphiain 2A action. Locations are reversed for Saturday’s games. Wesson,coached by Hugh Knight, is the Division 6-2A champion. Loyd Star,coached by Jonathan Breakfield, is the No. 3 seed. Enterprise,coached by Seth Lofton, is the No. 4 seed.

In Class 1A, West Lincoln is at Pelahatchie tonight and BogueChitto entertains Vicksburg St. Aloysius on Stan Long Field. WestLincoln, runner-up to Natchez Cathedral in the Division 8-1A race,hosts Pelahatchie Saturday afternoon, starting at 1. The Bears arecoached by Steve Barrington.

Bogue Chitto, coached by Adam Moak, faces St. Al on the HindsCommunity College diamond at Raymond, starting at 11 a.m. Saturday.St. Al’s field was severely damaged during last week’s tornado.

In Class 3A, Franklin County visits Greene County tonight. TheBulldogs (19-4), coached by Jeremy Loy, return to Bude to hostGreene County Saturday. The first game starts at 3 p.m.

Brookhaven Academy, competing in the MPSA Class AA playoffs,begins play Tuesday against ACCS. It also is a best-of-threeseries. The Cougars are coached by Stephen Cooksey.