Monday filled with big games and big plays up and down local playoff slate
Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, May 2, 2023
If you follow our local high schools closely in athletics, then you know that many of them are in the thick of the postseason for both baseball and softball.
On Monday, there were a variety of spots that local fans could catch what turned out to be some great games.
It’s enough to keep a local newspaper reporter in their car, going from one field to the next.
West Lincoln keeps momentum going, despite rain delay
Last week, Puckett won game one against West Lincoln in the MHSAA 2A second round playoff series between the schools.
West Lincoln rallied to score some runs late in that game and started off strong on Saturday when the teams began game two in Flea Hop.
Rain moved in though and the game was suspended and picked back up on Monday in the bottom of the third inning.
The game restarted with freshman Kaylee Wallace at the plate, the bases loaded with West Lincoln Bears and Wallace sitting on a 3-0 count.
West Lincoln was leading 5-2.
Gone were the dreary clouds of Saturday and they’d been replaced by bluebird skies.
Wallce drew a walk to score one run and send senior outfielder Mary Claire Johnson to the plate.
Johnson has signed to play ball next at Southwest Mississippi Community College. She’s one of the fastest players in the area on the basepaths.
On a 3-1 count, Johnson drilled a base clearing double that scored Addi Myers, Ryleigh Purdy and Wallace.
The score was 9-2, the West Lincoln fans were jubilant in their celebrations and it felt assured that the Bears would live to play another day — specifically on Tuesday in the series finale between the schools at Puckett.
After West Lincoln had wrapped up the victory on Monday by a 10-3 final score, head coach Anita Thornton was emotional in the home dugout.
It was the first time for the Bears to win a second round game in Thorton’s tenure at the school.
“I’m just so proud of these girls,” said Thornton as tears welled in her eyes.
Moyer Field careers end
for BHS Class of 23
On the way to Wesson from West Lincoln, there was time for a quick stop at the home of Brookhaven High baseball, Moyer Field.
The green stretch of open field behind Moyer gives way to floods of white, bright sunshine when the weather is as it was on Monday.
If you’ll remember, after the field was completed, legendary Oak Grove baseball coach Harry Breland was asking his school district to update the baseball facilities at his school.
Breland was quoted in the Hattiesburg paper as saying he wanted to a field like the one Brookhaven had just built.
Breland called it a “Cadillac of a baseball field.”
Sadly, for the BHS class of 2023, their careers came to and end at Moyer on Monday night.
The Panthers had won the opener last week over Wayne County in the opening game of their MHSAA 5A playoff series.
Wayne County responded with a win in game two and after the game on Saturday was delayed by weather, the teams met for the winners-take-all matchup on Monday.
The series finale was one of wild swings.
BHS led 5-0 after four innings.
WC responded to score seven runs in the top of the fifth, before Ole Brook bounced back to tie the game at 7-7 after five innings.
It was again tied at 8-8 after six innings.
The War Eagles from Wayne scored their go-ahead run in the top of the seventh and BHS couldn’t get another run to send the game to extra innings.
The senior class for BHS head coach Matt White includes Walker Moak, Jake Meilstrup, Ben Adams, Jacob Rushing, Jonah Smith, Bryson Porter, and JP Wallace.
The Panthers ended the season with an 18-10 record, which is the most wins for a BHS team since they went 18-10 in 2018.
These seniors were freshmen when COVI-19 came along and put a halt to all sports in 2020. As sophomores, many of them played major innings for a team that finished 9-13 and made the second round of the playoffs after beating Wayne County in the first round.
Last season as juniors, the Class of 2023 was part of a thrilling run to the region title as the Panthers beat West Jones in the final regular season game in walk-off fashion to capture first place.
Losing stinks, especially on your home field with a big crowd there to cheer you on, but the BHS Class of 2023 has nothing to hang their heads about as they’ve left the program in good shape for future success.
Wesson faithful go from field to field to watch their Cobras play
Wesson football coach Jeremy Loy stood on the concrete foot-bridge that leads to the softball field at his school.
Loy stood with his back to the softball field as he eyes focused on the west, towards the Cobra baseball field.
Like many Wesson fans, Loy was trying to pull double duty on Monday evening as the campus hosted two series finales.
On the baseball field, Loy’s son Will was pitching for the Cobras against Southeast Lauderdale. Will Loy had thrown a no-hitter in game one last week when the teams met in Wesson. SEL bounced back to the second game at home and set up the finale on Monday night.
It was a similar script in the MHSAA 3A second round softball playoff series between Wesson and West Marion.
Wesson won game one 6-5 on Friday and West Marion returned the favor 10-5 in Foxworth on Saturday.
The game on Monday had great swings of momentum and emotions.
Wesson led 6-1 after two innings, before West Marion came screaming back to score four runs in the top of the third. The game was tied 6-6 after seven innings.
With the international tie-breaker rule in effect, both teams scored a single run in the eighth to send the game to another inning.
“It stinks that somebody has to lose this one,” said a West Marion fan as he chewed his fingernails.
The baseball game had gone wholly in favor of Southeast Lauderdale by that point as the visiting Tigers went on to a 14-2 win.
Wesson softball pitcher Mallory Sanders threw a whopping 147 pitches for her team on Monday.
In the early going, when Wesson piled up runs, Sanders younger sister Maddie had smacked a home run for the home team.
Once the game went to extra innings, the intensity tightened.
It was like a battle of wills as the Wesson crowd, now bigger than ever after the finish of the baseball game, watched with clasped hands as the Cobras had runners on first and third with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
A groundout ended the game and the season for Wesson softball.
West Marion had brought a big crowd and when the final out smacked into the glove of the first baseman, those red-clad fans leapt to their feet — clanging cow bells like they were a Mississippi State tribute band.
Headed towards the parking lot as a young Wesson baseball player approaches that concrete footbridge that leads to the softball field, he was running with his arms filled with a bookbag and his street clothes.
“What happened, what are they cheering about, did we lose,” he asked.
More like West Marion won, I replied as I tried to get to my car and beat the traffic of a large exiting crowd — half walking on air after a victory and the other half wrestling with a gut-punch of a defeat.
Cliff Furr is the sports editor at The Daily Leader. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org