Here we go again:' Knights battle Mercy Cross for 3rd time
By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Feb. 10, 2001
JACKSON During the next two or three months, West Lauderdale baseball ace Todd Doolittle will make opposing batters look silly with his sharp-breaking curve ball.
Friday night in the Mississippi High School Activities Association's Class 1A-2A-3A North State soccer championship, the Corinth Warriors got a taste of what those batters will feel.
This time, however, it was Doolittle's footwork that made the Warriors look silly.
Under horrid field conditions at Newell Field, Doolittle and his teammates controlled the ball all night, and the Knights blanked Corinth 2-0 to claim the North State championship for the third straight year and move into today's state championship game.
Ninth-ranked West Lauderdale, 16-0-2 on the season, faces old rival Mercy Cross (14-1-2) in today's championship game at 11 a.m., at Pearl High School. It's the third straight year the pair have met in the 1A-2A-3A title game, with West winning last year and the Biloxi-based Crusaders taking home the crown in 1999.
West didn't make many mistakes Friday night.
The Knights scored the only goal they needed in the first half when Justin Daniels found the back of the net, and West Lauderdale carried that 1-0 lead into intermission thanks to a flurry of big saves by goalie Tyler Skelton.
Skelton could have easily gotten bored in the second half, however, as the Knights out-shot Corinth 18-1 in the final 40 minutes of the match.
George credited the big difference to his players' ball control and defense, as well as to the mud-slickened conditions on the field.
Those conditions didn't seem to bother Doolittle, however. Time after time, the senior striker put his defender on the ground with fancy footwork, including in the 67th minute of the contest when Doolittle juked an opponent and drilled West Lauderdale's second goal to put the icing on the cake for George.
Doolittle and teammates Brandon Rodgers and David Jeter were three of the reasons West played nearly the entire second half on the Corinth end of the field. And while George admitted he was initially disappointed that his team scored just once on 18 shots in the second half, he quickly saw the reason.
Corinth finished its season with an 18-3 mark, despite a big performance by goalie Corey Kemp who had saves on nine of West Lauderdale's 18 second-half shots.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at email@example.com.