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BA Cougars visit HC Cougars tonight

Brookhaven Academy’s Cougars will be tested by three outstandingpitchers this week as the MAIS Class AA Baseball State Championshipseries starts tonight at Hillcrest Christian. Game time is 6p.m.

The best-of-three series moves to BA’s diamond Thursday. Game Twoof the series starts at 5 p.m. If a third game is necessary, itwill follow 30 minutes after the conclusion of the firstgame.

“Hillcrest Christian has three outstanding pitchers who have signedcollege scholarships,” said BA first-year coach Casey Edwards. Heticked off the names of Austin Hartzog, an Ole Miss signee; JoshRogers, a Southern Miss signee; and Caleb Baucam, a Hinds CommunityCollege signee. Rogers is a southpaw.

“We are going to have to beat at least one Division I pitcher,”said Edwards. “They rely heavily on those three arms.”

Edwards said hehas confidence in his squad. “We have moreexperience at the plate. We can hit the ball.”

He said the following players would start tonight. Their positionand batting average:

Shortstop Brent Henderson (.342) has 14 doubles, four triples andthree homers.

Centerfielder Bubba Keene (.523) has 19 doubles, three triples and14 homers.

First baseman Will Gatlin (.504) has 18 doubles, three triples andsix homers.

Rightfielder Tripp Jolly (.407) has 19 doubles and fourhomers.

Third baseman Tyler Parvin (.383) has eight doubles and twohomers.

Pitcher Hunter McCullough (.392) has five doubles and eighthomers.

Leftfielder Donovan Lorraine (.306) has three doubles.

Designated hitter Hunter Franklin (.361) with seven doubles and onehomer.

Catcher Landon Nettles (.385) with two doubles and one homer.

As a team, the BA Cougars (27-8) have collected 40 home runs and100 doubles. They are second in the state to Richton in totalhomers.

BA also boasts solid pitching depth. On the mound, Parvin is 10-3on the season and beat Centreville Academy twice last Thursday.Jolly is 7-2, McCullough 6-3 and Bubba Keene 4-0.

The Cougars played Hillcrest in a preseason classic and won. Theyalso met Hillcrest in three regular-season games, winning two ofthem.

“Hillcrest has a good team,” said Edwards. “If we can just hit theball, we should be OK. I hope we can win two straight.”

Shane Kelly coaches Hillcrest (23-9). He has been head coach sincethe fall of 2003. In seven years at the helm, Kelly’s team have wonthree state championships. Won it 2006 in Div. I-AAA 07-08 Div. IAAA. Fell one our short last year. Against Magnolia Heights lastyear.

Kelly is a Petal native.