Loyd Star shuts down Florence, continues strong start

Published 9:46 pm Tuesday, March 7, 2023

LOYD STAR — Layla Burt closed out Loyd Star’s 5-2 win over Florence Tuesday night with her sixth strikeout. She pitched seven complete innings of work giving up just one earned run and five hits. 

They are 5-1 to start the season with their lone loss being against West Marion last week. Florence is a 5A program and the Hornets stung them with a four run fifth inning and great defense. 

Burt said the game got easier as it went a long and she was able to bounce back from giving up Florence’s first run in the first inning. She is an eighth grader and in her second year playing varsity softball. 

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“It was stressful at first but we worked back. We got the runs toward the end and it started to cool off,” Burt said. “We came prepared and ready tonight. Last year, we played them and won 10-0 in the first game and lost 1-0 in eight innings in the second. We have been getting ready for them.” 

She is one of four eighth graders on the squad and there is a seventh grader who saw action in the game too. Burt got her start pitching when she was eight-years-old by throwing with her dad. He taught her throughout the years and playing travel ball prepared her for varsity softball. 

Last season was stressful because she had to face older varsity girls who had more experience. However, she has settled into the role. Travel ball championships provided high pressure situations and were great preparation for the season. 

“Pitching is my thing. I have worked at it for several years,” she said. 

Loyd Star got off to a great start in the fifth inning thanks to a single by Katie Hester, a walk by Carson Hughey, a single by Abby Burnette and a single by Alyssa Leggett to take a 2-1 lead. Burt singled on a bunt moving up Leggett to second and Marley Britt drew a walk to score the third run of the inning. Marley’s sister Maddie Kate Britt drove in a run on a fielder’s choice to take a 4-1 lead.

In the sixth inning, Burnette drove in Hughey on a single to left field to give the Hornets a 5-1 lead. Leggett finished the night with two RBIs while Burnette and the Britts had one RBI each. 

Cowboy hats, a taco hat, Amelia Earhart aviator helmet, a pharaoh hat and others could be seen in the Loyd Star dugout as the girls brought their crazy rally hats to the game. They worked as they held on to beat Florence.

“Hester got the flame started for us and we started stringing hits together. It helped a lot because it took the pressure off of me,” Burt said. “We are very close and connected. We work well together because we have good chemistry. Growing up, we would play after school and outside of practice. Last week, we decided to have our own thing. Coach decided to let us start a new tradition of wearing a new crazy hat to the dugout. It will help lighten the mood.” 

Burt said she is not sure yet what kind of hat she will end up with but is in the process of finding one. Loyd Star’s softball team plans to go up to Starkville this Saturday to watch Mississippi State play Oklahoma as a team. Burt said it will be another fun experience to bring the squad together.