East Union holds off Loyd Star in a 2A title clinching win in game two

Published 6:32 pm Friday, May 19, 2023

HATTIESBURG – Unfortunately for the passionate fans from Loyd Star, the second game of their MHSAA 2A state championship series followed a similar script on Friday to the series opener on Tuesday.

East Union (32-5) put pressure on the Hornet’s defense early to score and then rode strong pitching to a 3-1. win on Friday in game two.

The Urchins from East Union won the series opener on Tuesday by a 3-1 score and the teams had seen game two postponed from Wednesday due to a rain delay that bumped the schedule for the week backwards.

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In giving a scouting report of East Union ahead of the series, Loyd Star coach Scott Leggett had said that the Urchins weren’t a team that played power-ball, but instead made smart plays on the basepaths and had a style that could generate runs from small advantages.

That evaluation was spot on as East Union jumped ahead by a 2-0 score in the bottom of the first after a walk and a hit-batter got runners aboard to start the inning. Katie Sherwood then singled as the third batter and put her team up quickly with no one out.

Leggett also mentioned in his scout that eighth grader Lucy Cochran was an outstanding pitcher that had been having a big season for the Urchins.

Cochran was recently named MHSAA 2A Miss Softball and she’s without a doubt a valuable asset in the circle.

On Tuesday in the opener, she struck out 10 and gave up a single run on an RBI by Alyssa Leggett that scored Abby Burnette.

In game two, she gave up eight hits, walked two and struck out five.

Loyd Star had some more offensive success against Cochran on Friday but were just a breath away from making a play to break the game open.

Leadoff batter Carson Hughey went 3-of-4 at the plate and continued to be strong with the bat as she’s been all season. Hughey is a Copiah-Lincoln CC signee.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Hornets had runners at first and third with one out after back-to-back singles by Maddie Kate Britt and Layla Burt.

The inning ended with Loyd Star failing to get a run across though.

The game was a quick one as it was already in the bottom of the sixth within an hour of its 4 p.m. start time.

Burt, the eighth-grade ace of the Loyd Star pitching staff, gave up seven hits and two earned runs in seven innings. She walked one, hit one and struck out one.

Loyd Star kept fighting and finally broke through on offense when Marley Britt scored in the bottom of the seventh on a two-out single by Burnette.

Cochran then got a pop-out to end the game and wrap up the title for the Urchins.

It was the final game for Loyd Star softball coaches Scott and Denise Leggett.

The husband-wife duo came to Loyd Star, the alma mater of Denise, after leading the program at Bogue Chitto, Scott’s alma mater, for 14 years.

During that time, Bogue Chitto won two slow pitch and four fast pitch state championships as the Bobcats became synonymous with MHSAA 1A softball dominance. They played in the state championship a combined 11 times during that time.

Scott and Denise moved to Loyd Star to work first as assistant coaches for long time coach Jan Delaughter.

Delaughter retired following the COVID-19 cancelled 2020 season. Loyd Star won three straight Region 7-2A titles under the leadership of the Leggetts.

Loyd Star had tough playoff matchups in both the 2021 and 2022 brackets. The 2022 team had their season ended in a close series to a Lake team that made the 2A finals.

The 2023 version of Loyd Star softball played at a high standard all season. They split a regular season series with 3A runners-up West Marion and lost one region game to West Lincoln.

Their only other regular season losses were to 5A Florence and 5A South Jones on the road.

Loyd Star started the playoffs with a sweep of Mize and then got a measure of revenge by beating Lake in a three-game series. That set up a 2A South State Championship series with Puckett High.

The teams were evenly matched and on a Mother’s Day that the moms on this team will never forget, the Hornets beat Puckett with a walk-off single by Alyssa Leggett in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Loyd Star ends the season with a 28-7 record and appears in the state championship for the first time since winning the 2009 2A title.

Scott Leggett will move into the full-time role of athletic director and Loyd Star alum John Smith has been hired to coach the softball team next season.

Alyssa Leggett will suit up next year for the softball team at Southwest Mississippi CC. Leggett, Hughey and Marley Britt are the only seniors on the Loyd Star roster.