CATEGORY: Baseball

AUTHOR: PEPPER

HED:Seven area teams to play for state titles

By Bobby Pepper

Daily Journal

Five playoff veterans and two newcomers will represent Northeast Mississippi in the high school softball state finals today and Saturday in Brookhaven.

Myrtle in Class 1A and South Pontotoc in Class 3A are making their first appearances in the "final four" of their respective classes. They join defending state champs New Albany (3A) and Ingomar (1A) as well as returning contenders Nettleton (2A), Mooreville (2A) and Tupelo (5A) in this year's tourney.

The state final round is a double-elimination tournament featuring two teams from north Mississippi and two from south Mississippi in each class.

Today's first-round action includes Ingomar against Myrtle and Mooreville against Nettleton at 4:30 p.m. South Pontotoc plays New Albany at 6, followed by Tupelo and Clinton at 7:30.

Saturday's action starts at 9 a.m. The first championship games are scheduled for 3 p.m.

Class 1A: Ingomar (25-11) is back to defend its title, but first it must take on Union County and Division 2 rival Myrtle (28-7). Myrtle, the 2-1A champion, won four of its five games against Ingomar this season.

Division 7 rivals Bogue Chitto (29-6) and Natchez Cathedral (19-5) are paired in the other first-round game.

Class 2A: Both Mooreville (37-1) and Nettleton (22-14) are making their fourth trip to the final four. Last year Nettleton was the state runner-up and Mooreville the third-place team.

Defending champ Clarkdale (26-8) is seeking a third straight championship. Choctaw Central (28-7) rounds out the 2A group.

Mooreville beat Nettleton twice this year for the Division 2-2A title.

Class 3A: Two past state champs are among the four teams competing in the 3A group. In addition to New Albany (28-10), the lineup includes West Lauderdale (35-2), which won the 4A title last year but dropped to 3A after reclassification.

South Pontotoc (22-13) beat New Albany twice in their three regular-season meetings. Forrest County AHS (24-10) plays West Lauderdale in the first round.

Class 5A: Division 1 champ Tupelo (22-7) is making its second final four appearance in three years. The ady Wave, who finished third in 1995, takes on Clinton (31-5) in today's opening game.

Meridian (31-7), last year's 5A champion, begins its title defense against Division 5 rival Pearl (22-9).

Class 4A: With West Lauderdale now in 3A, Class 4A is guaranteed a new champion. New Hope (30-7), Neshoba Central (24-10), South Jones (27-6) and Petal (29-3) are the title contenders.

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