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Baseball, softball playoffs heating up

It’s crunch time once again for area softball and baseballteams. The fastpitch softball girls begin state playoff actionFriday with visions of a state championship.

The baseball boys are in the second round of the playoffs, withdreams of a state title still dancing in their heads. For sure,both sports attract large crowds who bring extra excitement to theplayoffs.

Brookhaven Academy drew an opening round bye after winning theMAIS District 4-AA baseball championship. The Cougars lost aclassic, 3-2 game at Centreville Academy Monday night. Now thedefending state champion Cougars are faced with two must-win gamesThursday on BA’s diamond, starting at 4:30 p.m.

For sure, the Cougars (14-7) face a difficult challenge. CoachCasey Edwards believes his team can rebound but the Cougars willneed their A-plus game against Centreville (24-6), since the Tigersboast three strong pitchers.

The MHSAA maintains a best-of-three series in softball andbaseball. It begins Friday with single games and continues Saturdaywith twinbills. If necessary, two games will be played Saturday todetermine who advances to the next round.

Baseball got started last weekend. Brookhaven, plagued allseason by injuries to key players, was eliminated by Vancleave inthe Class 5A playoffs. If Ole Brook boss Randy Spring didn’t havebad luck, he would have no luck at all.

In Class 4A, the Lawrence County Cougars overpowered Laurel inthe first round series. Coached by Cory Keyes, they tackle Purvison the road Friday and return home to Monticello for a Saturdaydate.

North Pike, coached by George Lott III, visits Magee Friday andhosts the Trojans Saturday.

In Class 3A, Franklin County is at Forest Friday and homeSaturday for a duel in The Swamp, located in Bude. The Bulldogs arecoached by Brent Calcote.

In Class 2A, Loyd Star plays at Union Friday and returns toSmith Field Saturday at 3 p.m. The Hornets, coached by JonathanBreakfield, overwhelmed North Forrest in the opening round.

Enterprise almost made the second round but the Yellow Jacketslost a pair of 1-run decisions to Bassfield.

Wesson, Region 6-2A champion, hosts Enterprise-Clarke Fridayafter receiving an opening round bye. The Cobras, coached by SethLofton, are on the road Saturday.

In Class 1A, Bogue Chitto looks for more success when theBobcats visit Sacred Heart Saturday in Hattiesburg. Coach JodyBritt’s Bobcats host Sacred Heart Saturday, starting at 6 p.m. onStan Long Field.

After a 1-week layoff, the Bogue Chitto Lady Cats (15-7) aim fora successful Class 1A state title defense. Coach Scott Leggett’sgirls authored a rare achievement in 2010, winning the slowpitchand fastpitch state titles. They have enjoyed two consecutivechampionship ring ceremonies, complimenting an earlier slowpitchtitle.

How does Leggett prepare his team for the playoffs?

It sounds simple but every strategic detail is considered andcovered.

“We take it day by day and game by game,” said Leggett. “We havebeen fortunate to be in the playoffs several years. We just have tokeep playing our game. We have to execute and run the basesaggressively. We have to hit the ball and play good defense.”

Neighboring Salem will provide the first-round challenge for theLady Cats. Salem hosts BC Friday and the Lady Cats host SalemSaturday, starting at 5 p.m.

Last year was the first time for BC to win it all in fastpitch.”I know Salem will be a good series,” said Leggett. “They haveconsistent pitching.”

This is Leggett’s seventh year to coach fastpitch. His wife,Denise, works as an assistant coach. They have coached severaloutstanding teams during that stretch. They have another good onethis spring.

West Lincoln, coached by Andrew Redd, was runner-up to BogueChitto in the region race and will host Cathedral Friday in thefirst round. The Lady Bears play at Cathedral Saturday.

In Class 2A, the Enterprise Lady Yellow Jackets are fresh fromwinning their first-ever region title. They visit Union Friday andhost the Lady Rebels Saturday.

Coached by Charissa Burke and Chad Coon, the Jackets have talentand pitching depth. They should make a strong run for the statetitle.

Also in 2A, Wesson’s Lady Cobras are home to Enterprise-ClarkeFriday before going on the road in another best-of-three series.The Lady Cobras are coached by Jackie Johnson.

In Class 3A, Coach Dana Smith takes her region champion FranklinCounty Lady Bulldogs to Sumrall Friday. The series moves to BudeSaturday for two games, if necessary. St. Patrick is aTylertown.

In Class 4A, Lawrence County entertains Poplarville afterfinishing runner-up. Coach Courtney Shivers takes her team on theroad Saturday,

Region champion North Pike, coached by Sonya Wallace, visitsPurvis Friday and returns home Saturday.

In 5A Friday, McComb is at Stone County and Wayne County is atWest Jones.

State finals are May 20-21 at Freedom Ridge Park inRidgeland.

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