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Area softball players enter All-Star action

Newton County will be saturated with high school softball talentthis weekend. The Misissippi Association of Coaches 22nd AnnualSlowpitch and 7th Annual Fastpitch Softball All-Star Girls Gamesare set for Mack Fanning Field at Newton County High School inDecatur. If you asked for directions, the field is located onHighway 503.

To say the least, Lincoln County and southwest Mississippi willbe well represented. Playing in Friday’s Class 4A/5A slowpitchgames are Terri Hodges and Katie Stewart of Brookhaven, and KateDavis and Shaina Starks of Lawrence County.

Coaching the South 4A/5A girls are Lisa Covington of Brookhavenand Chris Harper of Northeast Lauderdale. The games begin at 8p.m.

The Class 1A/2A/3A slowpitch games will be played Fridayafternoon, starting at 5:30 p.m. Representing Lincoln County on theSouth squad are Shaquille Burton of Bogue Chitto and Nikki McCardleof Wesson. Coaching the South are Trey Lindsey of Richland andShane Phillips of Sebastopol.

The fastpitch games will be played Saturday, starting at 10 a.m.with the Class 4A/5A contests. Representing Lawrence County isshortstop Dee Dee Walker. Coaching the South are Heidi Hill ofBrandon and Jonathan Ray of Poplarville.

The 1A/2A/3A classic will be played Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.On the South squad from this area are Holli Smith of West Lincoln,Kaitlyn Perry and Maggie Dunaway of North Pike and Angelia Polk ofSalem.

Under the MAC’s all-star format, each contest will feature twogames.

Unfortunately, the MAC appears locked into the Newton Countylocation. Too bad, the games couldn’t be played in the Jacksonmetropolitan area. It’s more of a central location. Besidesimproved attendance, the games would receive more media exposureand pregame coverage.

Another idea, instead of spreading the MAC all-star games over atwo-month period, why not have them all take place the same week inthe Jackson area, in conjunction with the MAC’s annual convention.The baseball games could be played on Monday, soccer Tuesday,softball Wednesday, basketball Thursday and football Friday. Tenniscould be played on Saturday as a conclusion to the all-starextravaganza.

The Jackson Convention Bureau could coordinate several eventsthat would attract more people to the Capital City. Call itAll-Star Week. Corporate sponsorships are available from manysources.

As the price of fuel soars higher, it would help sports fanssave some money by spending a few nights in Jackson, rather thancommuting for various all-star games.

Speaking of fuel-saving measures, the Mississippi High SchoolActivities Association recently made a decision to reduce baseball,softball and basketball schedules by 10 percent as a frugal attemptto reduce travel expenses. It means the reduction of the respectivesports schedules by two or three games.

Naturally, coaches moaned and groaned loudly about the reductionin games. Each school is locked into a home-and-home schedule withdivision/district foes. The extra games were usually against arearivals.

In other words, Bogue Chitto coach Scott Leggett was faced withthe dilemma of dropping Brookhaven, North Pike and Loyd Star fromits fastpitch softball schedule. Both are big gate games that putextra money in the athletic funds.

Baseball coach Cory Keyes of Lawrence County made an astuteobservation. A road game for the Cougars might cost $100 worth ofdiesel to run the school bus. But the LCHS program stands to losefrom $500 to $600 in gate receipts from a home game that has to bedropped from the schedule.

Go figure.

Brookhaven product Grant McDonnieal made a strong showing in theMississippi State Amateur Championship last week at Tunica NationalGolf Club. The Delta State University student finished fourth. 7strokes behind champion Trey Denton of Canton. McDonnieal shot78-75-71-71-295.

In high school at BHS, McDonnieal was a standout football andbaseball player, a member of two state championship games in 2004.He elected to concentrate on golf in college, starring forCopiah-Lincoln Community College before signing a scholarship withDelta State.

Ryan Ratcliff of Meadville, a Co-Lin signee, also competed inthe State Am, shooting a 4-round total of 84-77-79-78-318.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O. BOX551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mail sports@dailyleader.com