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Three area teams preparing for fast-pitch softball playoffs

By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
April 15, 2001
Three area teams will be participating in the Mississippi High School Activities Association's state fast-pitch softball playoffs which get under way Monday.
Defending Class 3A/2A/1A state champion Newton County will open its title defense at home, while Clarkdale and Neshoba Central will need to win on the road to keep their seasons alive.
Unlike in previous years, there will be no tournament this spring … only four rounds of best-of-three series. First-round series are set for Monday and Tuesday, second-round for Thursday, state semifinals on Saturday, and state championships a week from Saturday.
Newton County hosts St. Aloysius of Vicksburg Tuesday with the first game slated to begin at 4:30 p.m.
The Lady Flashes are 12-5 with two losses to Division 6 3A/2A/1A champion Franklin County and one each to Division 4-5A champion Clinton, Warren Central, and Vicksburg.
The Lady Cougars of Newton County went 7-0 last week to take the Division 5 title with a perfect 16-0 league mark.
Newton County enters the playoffs with a 30-2 overall record and is an impressive 54-5 the past two years.
The Lady Cougars won't be anywhere near full strength, however. Catcher Kristin Chaney suffered an ankle injury on March 31 and hasn't returned to the lineup. Outfielder Shanna Jones reinjured her left knee in Monday's 7-3 win at Clarkdale and could miss the rest of the season. Outfielder Shelly Ferguson and catcher Jennifer Smith were in an automobile accident following Friday night's 4-3 win over Clinton and are questionable.
Clarkdale, which finished second in Division 5-3A/2A/1A, will travel to Meadville to take on Franklin County with Monday's series opener slated for 3 p.m.
Clarkdale will take a 26-8 record into the series with Franklin County coming in at 11-5.
In another bizarre twist to the bracket, if Newton County and Clarkdale win their opening series, they'll meet Thursday at Clarkdale. In every other MHSAA playoff setup, teams from the same division don't face each other until the North or South State championship game.
Neshoba Central finished second in Division 3-4A after Northeast Lauderdale dropped an 8-1 decision to Kosciusko Thursday night.
The Lady Rockets, 6-7, travel to Class 4A defending state champion Terry Monday with the first game of that series slated for 11 a.m. Terry enters the series with a 19-12 mark that includes a 5-1 win over Newton County and a 1-0 loss to the Lady Cougars.
Neshoba had dropped six of its last seven games after Tuesday's 9-8 loss to Philadelphia.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at mstamper@themeridianstar.com.

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