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Softball No. 1 success story in area sports

Softball was the No. 1 success story during the 2007-08 schoolyear. Three state champions were crowned, two on the high schoollevel, Bogue Chitto’s Lady ‘Cats and Brookhaven Academy’s LadyCougars; plus one community college champ in the Co-Lin LadyWolves.

Co-Lin (35-12), coached by Allen Kent, carried their successstory to a regional title and a runners-up finish in the NJCAADivision II National Tournament in Normal, Ill. The Lady Wolvesbattled 4-time defending national champion Phoenix (Ariz.) Collegein a close contest before losing 8-5. Phoenix prevailed 9-1 in thetitle test.

For sure, it was the best-ever showing by a Co-Lin softballteam. Kent must replace several outstanding players, among themAll-American pitcher Becca Bailey.

Last October, BC’s Lady Cats made history by winning the Class1A State Slowpitch title for Coach Scott Leggett. It was the fourthstraight state finals appearance for the ‘Cats who were hungry fora title and a state championship ring.

In fastpitch, Leggett led the ‘Cats to the South State finalsbefore losing to East Webster, the eventual state champ.

Brookhaven Academy’s Lady Cougars also made history this month,winning their first-ever Class AA-AAA Slowpitch State Tournamentcrown. Coach Ricky Allen has had his girls in contention severaltimes.

The Brookhaven Lady Panthers, coached by Chad Walker, won theDivision 6-4A title in fastpitch. Coach Sonya Wallace’s North PikeLady Jaguars won another Division 6-3A fastpitch championship.

West Lincoln’s Lady Bears, coached by Andrew Redd, won theslowpitch division title.

Taking a look at the 2007 football season, Franklin County’sBulldogs made a gallant run at successfully defending their Class3A state title but they fell to Louisville in the championshipgame. Later, FCHS head coach Grady McCluskey departed for anassistant coaching position at Class 5A Columbus.

Brookhaven’s Panthers enjoyed a banner campaign in football,winning the Region 6-4A title and advancing to the state playoffs.Coach Tucker Peavey’s team lost to West Jones in the opening roundand finished 8-2.

Basketball season came bouncing in with high aspirations.Brookhaven Academy did not disappoint as Coach Dale Watts directedhis Cougars to a fourth straight Class AA State Tournament crownafter finishing No. 4 in South State.

The BA Lady Cougars, coached by Barry Gray, captured the SouthState AA crown and finished third in the state tourney, giving themanother 30-win season.

Meanwhile, the Brookhaven Lady Panthers played well in the stateplayoffs and reached the Class 4A state tournament for a thirdconsecutive season. Unfortunately for Coach Freda Craft’s crew,they caught Indianola Gentry in the semifinals and lost inovertime. Gentry kept rolling and hiked its record to 80-0 over 2seasons, winning back-to-back Grand Slam titles.

Franklin County’s girls, coached by Charles Moore, made the mostof its campaign The Lady Bulldogs reached the Class 3A state titlegame before losing again to powerful Southeast Lauderdale(36-1).

Division tournament titles were something to be proud of, too.The Loyd Star Lady Hornets, coached by Billy Vaughn; and the WestLincoln Lady Bears, coached by Lane Young, claimed divisioncrowns.

At Co-Lin, the Wolves and Lady Wolves enjoyed anotheroutstanding campaign. The Wolves, coached by Dennis Sims, lost toItawamba in the state tournament title game. The Lady Wolves fellto Itawamba in the opening round of the state tourney which washeld at Fulton.

Springtime arrived and the Ole Brook Panthers marched to theDivision 6-4A baseball championship. Coach Randy Spring’s team lostto Vancleave in the second round of the state playoffs.

Lawrence County, coached by Cory Keyes, was runner-up to BHS inthe division race and made a strong run in the playoffs. TheCougars lost to eventual state champion East Central in thequarterfinals.

Wesson, coached by Hugh Knight, claimed the Division 6-2Adiamond crown. The Cobras were eliminated from the playoffs byRichton, the 2-time defending state champion.

Franklin County’s Diamond Dawgs, coached by Jeremy Loy, made animpressive run before falling to Class 3A state champion Sumrall inthe South State finals.

In tennis, Brookhaven Academy flexed its muscles, winning Southand State AA crowns, girls and boys. They are coached by AlanTaylor.

The BHS Panthers, coached by Terri Hall, were South 4Arunners-up to Laurel in the team tennis championships.

Overall, it was an excellent year for area athletics, especiallysoftball and basketball. Congratulations to all the players andcoaches.

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