Softball in Southwest Mississippi is hotter than the weather right now
Published 11:00 am Wednesday, May 17, 2023
There’s a loyal group of softball fans that’ll travel all over the area to watch the best teams compete. They might have an allegiance to a certain school, or they might be summer-league coaches or former coaches or just huge sports fans.
You might not personally know Johnny Williams or Richard Price or Mickey Wallace — but if you saw their faces, you might recognize them as the type of softball fans that I’ve been describing.
If you’re a big-time softball fan, then you’ve been getting to see some top-notch teams and players during the last year and the future looks bright as there are tons of young talent in our area schools.
On Monday, a Copiah-Lincoln Community College team filled with some of the best alums from our immediate area had one of the all-time great days in program history.
Facing Jones College in Ellisville in the championship game of the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament, the Wolves (43-9) needed to beat JC twice after the Bobcats (46-8) had beaten them 10-2 in their first meeting the day prior.
Co-Lin trailed 5-2 through five innings and it looked like the Wolves would settle for the runner-up award which wouldn’t be a complete disappointment, as both teams in the finals qualify for the NJCAA national tournament later this month in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Explosion — that’s just about the only word that can describe what happened for Co-Lin at the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning of game one on Monday.
Lawrence County product Skyler Speights hit a double with one out and one runner on and then was followed by Bogue Chitto alum Julianna Frazier who hit an RBI single.
The Co-Lin bats then had a sequence of double, single, single, double and when the inning was finished CLCC had scored seven runs on six hits and led 9-5, which would end up being the final score.
The teams then turned around and played a winner-take-all finale and Co-Lin put on a clinic in mashing homers.
The good girls from Wesson won 9-2, outhit Jones 13-2 and got a home run from Speights, two from Southern Miss signee Maddie Weeks, two from Brookhaven Academy alum Abby Grace Richardson, one from sophomore Belle West and one from Brookhaven Academy graduate Madison Moak.
Winning is fun.
Beating your archrival on their field in the biggest game of the year by spraying balls off the scoreboard — there might not be a word invented to describe that type of joy.
Howard and her team won the MACCC State Tournament last season in Ellisville. The NJCAA Region 23 championship on Monday was the first for the school since 2008.
At the high school level, Lincoln County has one of the 12 teams left playing softball in the MHSAA championships this week in Hattiesburg.
On Tuesday, Loyd Star started the MHSAA 2A Championship Series in a three-game affair with East Union High.
The games are being played at the Southern Miss softball complex.
The Hornets are coached by Scott and Denise Leggett, who coached Co-Lin’s Howard during her high school career at Bogue Chitto.
The Leggetts won multiple state championships during their career at BC and now, in their final season leading LS softball, they’ve got a talented team playing for a state championship.
Making it feel even more like a Disney movie, Alyssa Leggett, their daughter, is a senior standout who’s signed to play next season at Southwest Mississippi CC.
“This has always been a dream of ours,” Scott Leggett said on Monday as he reflected on a win the day before over Puckett. “Getting to coach your kid in a state championship is something you dream about happening, but you know it takes so much going right for that to happen.”
In that extra-inning series clinching win, it was Alyssa who hit the game-winning run.
Loyd Star isn’t the only team that local fans might be familiar with in Hattiesburg this week.
In the 4A championship series, North Pike is competing for that title against West Lauderdale.
In the 3A championship series, West Marion is playing for a state title too.
The Trojans of West Marion split with Loyd Star in two close games during the regular season.
And if you remember, West Marion just squeezed by Wesson in an extra inning to clinch the third and deciding game of their 3A playoff series.
Enterprise, Wesson and West Lincoln all had outstanding seasons in 2023 and were stacked with lots of young talent.
Also, don’t forget that Brookhaven Academy won a second straight MAIS state title at the beginning of the school year and the Cougars will return virtually their entire roster to go for a three-peat.
Add all that talent up and you’ll see why local fans never lack when looking for a good softball team to watch.
Cliff Furr is the sports editor at The Daily Leader. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.