BA, Parklane taking rivalry to MAIS 5A state title series
Published 9:00 am Wednesday, October 4, 2023
BY CLIFF FURR
Brookhaven Academy (29-7-1) is right back where they expected to be all season, playing in the MAIS 5A softball state championship series for a third consecutive year.
Their competition in the championship series is also a program that everyone watching expected to be here with BA at the end of the season, the Parklane Pioneers (29-5).
The championship series begins Wednesday at Parklane with a 6 p.m. first pitch.
The meeting between the schools in the series opener will be the seventh time they’ve faced each other this season. The season series is knotted at 3-3 as each game has been packed with drama.
In a winner’s bracket matchup Monday in Magee at the MAIS 5A State Tournament, Parklane won 6-2 to punch their ticket to the championship series.
The loss put BA into an elimination game with Copiah Academy, which the Cougars won 6-3 to set up the final 3-game series with Parklane.
Parklane jumped to a 1-0 lead on Monday in Magee in the bottom of the first inning and kept the BA bats silenced until the Cougars scratched across two runs in the top of the seventh. Five errors by Brookhaven did not help their cause.
PA junior pitcher Ashleigh Reed Sharp held the Cougars to four hits and struck out seven while walking two and giving up two earned runs over seven innings.
At the plate, Brookhaven Academy got a double each from Annaston Poole and Miriam Wallace in the loss. Junior Ann Elise Duncan drove in both runs for the Cougars in the loss.
In the circle, Duncan struck out three and walked two while giving up two earned runs on six hits over six innings.
In the finale on Monday, Copiah Academy scored two runs in the top of the first inning, but the Cougars bounced back quickly to score three in the bottom half of that frame as they never trailed afterwards.
Junior Kensy Covington pitched the win for the Cougars over Copiah. Bailey Parks and Duncan drove in two runs each as Duncan homered in the victory.
This situation, meeting a rival multiple times to close out the season, isn’t a new scenario for Brookhaven Academy softball.
Last season, Covington’s team lost three of four games against an Oak Forest Academy program that they faced in the championship series for the 5A title.
The Cougars came out with bats blazing in the 3-game series and swept OFA with a 10-4 win at home and an 11-1 victory on the road to clinch the title.
A year prior, BA beat Silliman Institute for the first fastpitch softball title in school history. That championship series went to three games as the Cougars and Wildcats faced each other eight times in 2021, with then BA head coach Becky Flowers and her team holding a 5-3 advantage in those meetings.
With so many at-bats against one another already this season and so much familiarity between the two teams, Covington knows that mental preparation and execution will be a huge part of deciding who finishes atop the 5A ranks.
“It’s like a brand-new season at this point,” said Covington. “We’re 37 games in at this point, everyone knows what they’ve got to do for us to be successful. Now it just comes down to executing and making plays.”
One thing Covington and her squad have shown they’re capable of in 2023 is not folding late when a game is tight. They beat Parklane 5-4 in the first meeting between the schools in a game that went 10-innings.
In the second meeting of the schools, Parks hit a 3-run home run with two outs in the bottom of seventh inning to give the Cougars a thrilling 3-2 victory.
Last week in Vicksburg at the MAIS 5A South State Tournament, the teams faced each other in three more games that were high in drama.
Parklane won the first meeting 12-1 to send Brookhaven Academy to the loser’s bracket. The Cougars bounced Copiah 6-5 in their next game to set up another meeting with Parklane.
BA scored three runs in the top of the third to secure a 3-2 win that meant they’d face Parklane once more in a winner-take-all matchup to decide the champion of the 5A South State Tournament.
The finale that night was just another unforgettable chapter in the rivalry between BA and PA as it went 9-innings and was packed with big plays from both sides.
Trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh, the Cougars got a 3-run home run with two outs from sophomore Morgan Chemin to tie the game at 4-4.
Parklane scored two in the top of the ninth to secure the victory as the teams combined for 22 hits and the game had just one error.
Game two of the 5A championship series will be hosted by Brookhaven Academy on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. If a third game is needed, it will be played on Saturday at Parklane.