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Softball state playoff picture coming into better focus

By By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
April 2, 2004
Mississippi State football ponders BCS game.
Ole Miss football to play for SEC championship.
Southern Mississippi men's basketball bound for Final Four.
Oops. Sorry, those were the possible headlines for yesterday's column.
In the world of reality following April Fool's Day, let's look at what we think might happen in the wonderful world of high school fast-pitch softball.
Who are the teams around here likely to make a run at a state championship?
In Class 1A/2A, you'd better put Clarkdale high on the list. After all, the Lady Bulldogs either win the title or finish runner-up just about every year. To get to the title game, the Lady Bulldogs will likely have to dispose of Region 6-1A/2A rival Union somewhere along the way. Philadelphia, Mize, and West Lincoln could provide competition along the way.
As for winning a state title, the South 1A/2A champ will likely have to face either defending 1A/2A state champion Mooreville or Eupora in the finals.
In Class 3A, don't count Newton County's Lady Cougars out just yet. After all, they are the defending state champs and have won six of their last seven games after being 6-7 on March 20. In getting to 6-7, the Lady Cougars lost a school record six straight games before righting their ship.
The lone loss in that stretch was to a stout Madison Central squad that is expected to battle Southaven for the Class 5A North State crown in the upcoming weeks.
Caledonia is expected to represent the North State in the 3A championship series.
In Class 4A, Neshoba Central may be able to do in fast-pitch what the Lady Rockets didn't do in slow-pitch… reach the championship series. The Lady Rockets already have a 6-0 blanking of New Hope to their credit. The Lady Rockets travel to New Hope's cozy park on April 5.
Northeast Lauderdale is faring well in region play in the South half of the 4A classification.
Meridian jumped back in the playoff hunt with a 2-1 victory at Northwest Rankin yesterday.
Speaking of Meridian, some of the state's better teams will be playing in the Meridian Fast-Pitch Festival Saturday at Northeast Park. Area teams competing are Meridian, Enterprise, Neshoba Central, West Lauderdale, Wayne County, and Southeast Lauderdale.
Also joining in on the fun are Moss Point, South Jones, Brandon, Petal, West Point, New Hope, Harrison Central, Greene County, and Richton.
If you've been meaning to take in a game this spring and haven't done so, this would be a good time as the regular season is winding down rapidly. In fact, it draws to a close on April 8 with the first round of the playoffs slated to begin on April 10.
Why the MHSAA fast-pitch season lasts only 47 days and the slow-pitch season lasts 63 days, well that I can't answer. After all April Fool's day is past. I can only suppose getting players ready for intramurals is considered more important than preparing them for a possible college career.

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