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No shortage of local sports this weekend

Take a deep breath, drink a tall glass of ice water and getready for a major weekend of local sports activity. From softballand baseball to bicycle racing, there’s no shortage of places to goand sports to watch.

The state high school fastpitch softball playoffs resume tonightand continue through Saturday. The Bogue Chitto and Loyd Star girlsare still going strong in their respective classifications. Boththe Lady ‘Cats and the Lady Hornets have reached the South statesemifinals.

Loyd Star, coached by Jan Delaughter, is at Clarkdale today fora 5 p.m. opener. The best-of-three series resumes Saturday at LoydStar, starting at 4:30.

Bogue Chitto, coached by Scott Leggett, drives to Sebastapoltoday. The Lady ‘Cats host Sebastapol Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.It’s also a best-of-three series, with the third game, ifnecessary, set for Bogue Chitto.

If Loyd Star and Bogue Chitto win again this weekend, theyadvance to the South State finals next week. Under a new MHSAAformat, the following weekend’s state championship finals will beheld at Freedom Ridge Park in Ridgeland, May 1-2.

In an effort to centralize the state finals for all 5classifications, the MHSAA created a championship weekend inRidgeland. It should be exciting.

The main reason slowpitch softball remains alive as a sanctionedsport in Mississippi is money. The state finals drew huge crowds tothe late October gathering at Jackson’s VA Fields. Plenty offinancial and fan support keep slowpitch breathing in the fall,although every other state high school activities association hasdiscontinued the outdated sport.

For the record, slowpitch is still a popular item in southwestMississippi. West Lincoln was Class 1A state runner-up lastyear.

Colleges, junior and senior, play fastpitch exclusively. Theyalso provide valuable athletic scholarships for the most talentedprep players.

Moving on to baseball, several area teams have high aspirationsas the first round of the playoffs kicks off Friday. Like softball,it is a best-of-three series.

In Lincoln County, Brookhaven is at Long Beach Friday night inClass 4A and returns home to host 2 games, if necessary, Saturday,starting at 1 p.m.

In Class 2A, Loyd Star visits Lumberton and Enterprise hosts St.Patrick Friday. Neighboring Wesson entertains defending statechampion Richton tomorrow night. Locations are reversed forSaturday’s games.

Also in Class 4A, Lawrence County invades D’Iberville Fridaynight and hosts the Warriors Saturday for 2 games, starting at 2p.m.

In Class 1A, West Lincoln and Bogue Chitto battled down to thewire in settling the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds. No. 2 West Lincolnvisits Nanih Waiya Friday and No. 3 Bogue Chitto entertains Ethel.The Bobcats visit Ethel Saturday and West Lincoln’s Bears host theWarriors.

Brookhaven Academy’s Cougars are competing in the MPSA Class 2Astate playoffs and seek a wild card berth. The Cougars meetCentreville Academy today at 5:30 p.m., at Adams County ChristianSchool in Natchez.

Mix in the threat of rain to the weather forecast and thesituations become chaotic. If rain cancels Friday night’s games,they will be played Saturday. Meanwhile, Saturday’s games would bemoved back to Monday or Tuesday.

In Class 3A, Franklin County is at Morton Friday and North Pikevisits Newton County. Saturday finds the Bulldogs hosting Mortonand North Pike hosting Newton Co. for possibly 2 games.

Community College baseball and softball are going strong as theseason winds down. Co-Lin’s Lady Wolfpack entertains LSU-Eunice fora twinbill, starting at 4 p.m. today. Co-Lin, coached by AllenKent, is contesting for the top rung in the South Division.

If the Lady Wolves manage to win the South Division, they willhost the MACJC State Tournament next week, April 24-26.

Meanwhile the Co-Lin baseball team visits Southwest forresumption of the Fourth Annual Coca-Cola Classic BaseballChallenge. The Wolfpack split the first twinbill that was heldMarch 24, at Co-Lin, losing 5-2 but rebounding to win the nightcap4-1.

Coached by Keith Case, the Wolves are battling for fourth placein the South Division. Southwest is planning a big day Saturday,complete with an afternoon cookout and a softball doubleheader.

For sure, the Eighth Annual Human Performance CompanyMississippi Grand Prix Race will bring hundreds of visitors toBrookhaven this weekend. Some riders are from as far away asCalifornia.

Frank Moak, founder and team captain for the Herring Gas racinggroup, is the local favorite. Moak said he anticipates 80 ridersfor Friday night’s Bank of Brookhaven Criterium in downtownBrookhaven.

The criterium is a fan favorite as racers navigate a tightcourse with many turns. It usually lasts around one hour.

On Saturday, the Road Race begins at 8:30 a.m. in the HeucksRetreat community. Hundreds of riders, male and female, willcompete in various divisions. There will be a time trial thatafternoon at Union Hall Baptist Church. A Sunday morning circuitrace around the Copiah-Lincoln Community College campus, startingat 7 a.m., will conclude the weekend.

Over $9,000 in prize money will be up for grabs this weekend.All proceeds from the races are earmarked for the Blair E. BatsonChildren’s Hospital at UMC in Jackson.

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