LCHS girls turn back Lady Hornets

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, April 17, 2013

      Lawrence County made the best of its last game of the season. The Lady Cougars exploded for 14 hits and defeated Loyd Star’s Lady Hornets 8-5 Tuesday night on Jan Smith Delaughter Field. The Lady Cougars (20-5,4-4) just missed a third place finish in the Region 7-4A race and a berth in the state playoffs.

     Loyd Star (14-11, 6-2), celebrating the official dedication of Jan Smith Delaughter Field, tried their best to present Coach Delaughter with a victory. The Lady Hornets got 2-run homers from seniors Hannah Smith and Anna Grace Cupit on Senior Night but fell short of their goal.

     The Lady Hornets, runners-up to Wesson in the Region 7-2A race, visit Scott Central Friday for a 4 p.m. playoff game. The best-of-three series returns to Loyd Star Saturday for 2 games, if necessary, starting at 1 p.m.

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     “My goal was to turn this program around and make the playoffs,” said LCHS second-year coach Meleah Howard. “It’s tough to have five losses and not make the playoffs.”

     Her team was ambushed by Tylertown in a region test and the Lady Chiefs wound up third in the region race behind No. 1 North Pike and No. 2 Purvis.

     “We hit the ball pretty well and my pitchers came through for us,” said Howard. “Elizabeth Smith has pitched 24 games this year.”

     Smith, a hard-throwing freshman, gave up 5 runs on 6 hits, struck out 2 and walked none in notching the victory. She was replaced by freshman Jordan Harp in the fifth. Harp was replaced by sophomore Lancey Trott in the sixth.

     The Lady Cougars built a 5-0, third-inning lead before Loyd Star’s Hannah Smith launched her 2-run homer over the left field fence. LCHS got 3 hits from Jazmin Thomas, including a double. Alyssa Pendergrass also had 3 hits. Julian Johnson and Alexundria Thomas each had 2 hits.

     Freshman Kelsie McCullough started in the circle for Loyd Star and was replaced by eighth grader Mackenzie Smith in the fourth with 2 away and LCHS leading 8-2. McCullough (0K,0BB) gave up 11 hits.

     Delaughter was disappointed by her team’s defeat. She has three seniors on her team.

     “We didn’t quit and our kids kept fighting back,” said Delaughter. “Hannah has been killing the ball lately.”

     She said she appreciated the dedication ceremony. “It was a good feeling. It is a humbling experience. Behind every good coach are great players.”

     Her mother, Irma Smith, and daughter Brooke Delaughter, were on hand for the ceremony. Delaughter coached her team to a 31-1-1 record and a state championship in 2009, when her daughter was a standout junior pitcher.

     She also coached Loyd Star to a Class 2A girls state tournament basketball championship in 1991. The Lady Hornets were runners-up in 1992.