Brookhaven playing through growing pains, heartache

Published 10:10 pm Thursday, March 2, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Terry committed seven errors, four more than Brookhaven, and still walked out of Ole Brook with a 13-4 win. It was not a pretty game with 11 walks, 3 errors and just five hits for the Panthers. 

Five of Terry’s runs came in the final seventh inning of the game as the Panthers had cut their lead in half in the sixth inning. All Brookhaven can do is go to sleep, get some rest and move on from the loss as they travel to Columbia tomorrow night with a chance to add a win to their 1-7 record. 

There were some positives in the game. Jayonna Pendleton had two hits and an RBI, Anna Kaitlyn Dooley pitched four innings and struck out four batters to give senior pitcher Maggie Reynaud some rest. 

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“We need to start putting the ball in play and make the routine plays and we can’t have so many walks,’ Reynaud said. “If we can get to hitting, we will have a better shot of winning some games. We have plenty of time to learn and get better. We will come out on top and get it right.” 

She is one of two seniors, her senior teammate Cookie Wilkinson plays shortstop. The rest of the squad is young which requires coaching from the Brookhaven softball coaches and experienced players like Reynaud. 

Her favorite thing this year is watching young players have the opportunity to learn and grow through practice and asking questions. 

In the huddles before games the team has a pep talk. Reynaud said she always tells the team they don’t have to get their heads down, they can always make a comeback. She added the team needs to stay up and always encourage each other. 

Playing with heavy hearts

On the softball field are the spray painted initials of Terrance Lewis. A janitor and supporter of Brookhaven High School, Lewis tragically lost his life in an apartment fire last weekend. Brookhaven School District made the announcement acknowledging his death in the fire this week. 

Lewis would come to softball games and sit in the bleachers live streaming the ball game, or he would go up into the press box and do the scores. Reynaud said they plan to wear white at the school tomorrow to honor his life. 

“Terrance meant everything to everyone and he would always be here. He would come watch and call the game on the radio,” Reynaud said. “When I heard he had died in the fire it really hit me. He was a big supporter of the program. We were taken aback by his loss. He was a big part of sports here at Brookhaven. We miss him and love him.” 

Reynaud started playing softball in seventh grade after she took a long break from tee ball. She said she watched her brother play high school baseball and she would watch older girls play softball. 

Her papaw Chuck Rushing wanted her to play softball so he took her to tryouts. He watched her tryout and practice but died before she could play a varsity game for the Panthers. A part of Rushing takes the field each game with Reynaud as she wears his number 17. 

“I do everything in honor of him. I wear his number and it means a lot to me to be out here,” she said. 

At the plate she will take the handle of her bat and draw a cross in the dirt before stepping into the batter’s box. Usually, she wears a necklace with a cross, but hers broke before tonight’s game. 

“I just always try to remember I’m playing for God. Everything I do here and off the field is in honor of him,” she said. 

A pitcher, she got her first varsity pitching experience as a freshman and loved it. She also plays outfield and just loves being out on the softball field anyway she can. At this time, she is still exploring her options for what is next. 

She would love to be able to play college softball if she gets the chance. In college, she plans to study elementary teaching as she feels she would be a good fit for the education field. 

One young player has really stepped up for the Panthers in Reynaud’s eyes. Dooley has grown up this year and stepped into her role as a pitcher on the team and done well so far, she said. 

“I try to encourage her as she looks up to me and I look up to her. She is always smiling and I’m just proud of her,” Reynaud said. “It is just fun to come out here with these girls and be a family. Ball brings us close together and it has always been close to my heart.”