Panthers, Bears win district titles

Published 11:55 am Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Photo by Anthony McDougle/Senior outfielder Tia Bussey runs down a deep fly ball in Ole Brook’s district-clinching home win over Pearl Tuesday. Bussey also went 3-for-3 on the night with three singles.

Photo by Anthony McDougle/Senior outfielder Tia Bussey runs down a deep fly ball in Ole Brook’s district-clinching home win over Pearl Tuesday. Bussey also went 3-for-3 on the night with three singles.

The Brookhaven Panthers slow-pitch softball team posted 20 runs on the Pearl Pirates in their meeting last week en route to a 20-8 victory.

That showing likely led many to expect much of the same Tuesday when Ole Brook faced Pearl. However, it would be defense that would be the determining factor as the Panthers beat the Pirates 6-3 in Brookhaven.

For much of the game, the score remained tight and the outcome as good as anybody’s guess. A clutch home run by Kyla Henderson in the sixth stretched the Panthers’ lead and a big defensive play by senior outfielder Tia Bussey with the bases loaded in the seventh sealed the deal for Brookhaven.

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With the victory, the Panthers earned the right to call themselves district champions after finishing undefeated in division play.

“It was a big win for our girls,” Ole Brook head coach Mandy Vinson said. “The defense played a great game, but I think we still have to do a better job hitting behind runners to pick up a few more runs.”

Vinson said she was not surprised that the game was close between the two division foes despite the outcome of their last meeting.

“Pearl is a good team. They have hitters that can change the momentum of the game quickly,” she said.

The Panthers’ bats got off to a slow start, which played a part in their early deficit. Senior outfielder Jada Henderson gave them their first lead in the bottom of the second with a two-run homer over the center field fence.

The home team managed to extend their lead to 4-1 heading into the fourth inning, paced by key hits from seniors Bussey, Cheyenne Motley and Macy Ziskin.

The Pirates had a home run and other big hits late to trim the deficit to 4-3, but the Panthers responded with a two-run homerun from Kyla Henderson to put the final of 6-3 on the scoreboard.

The Panthers finished the night with 11 hits. Tia Bussey led all hitters with three singles. Motley hit two singles, while Kyla and Jada Henderson had a home run each. Rileigh Allen also had two singles. Kat Wallace and Macy Ziskin singled.

Vinson and the Panthers are hoping to advance beyond the first round in this year’s playoffs and a district crown is a good starting point.

“Overall, I’m happy with where we are,” Vinson said. “We need to finish the season out strong. We are getting better each day and that’s what we need to do.”

The Panthers will face a tough Lawrence County team Thursday. The road contest will begin with the junior varsity game at 5 p.m., followed by varsity at 6:15 p.m.

West Lincoln wins district

The Panthers were not the only team collecting hardware Tuesday night. The West Lincoln Bears (5-5 overall, 2-0 district) also took home a division title with a 19-6 win over Amite County.

Makennah Redd, Emalyn Langley and Morgan Newman all hit home runs in the win. Redd also hit a single and double while Newman posted a double and triple. Bailee Goodson and Kelsey Freeman had three singles apiece. Adi Paden added two singles and a double and Anna Brooke Davis tallied a single and triple.

“I’m just happy for the girls,” West Lincoln head coach Andrew Redd said. “They worked hard and they deserve it. The Bears’ next game pits them against Crystal Springs on the road at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Brookhaven Academy concludes season with loss to Cathedral

The Brookhaven Academy Cougars’ fast-pitch softball team wrapped up the regular season Tuesday with a 9-8 loss to district foe Cathedral Academy.

Starting pitcher Madi Smith pitched eight innings and allowed seven hits, three strikeouts and four walks.

Senior Anna Grace Covington led BA with a single and double, while Smith, Cameron Watson and Abeni Fuller all hit doubles as well. Kailyn Jordan and Emily Claire Felder had singles. The Cougars finished the regular season with a 9-14 overall record. Brookhaven Academy was eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to Columbia Academy.