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New Hope responds without its coach


From Special Reports



PONTOTOC -- The New Hope Trojans responded to playing without coach Stacy Hester on Thursday by beating Pontotoc 15-5 in five innings in game one of their best-of-three Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A second-round state playoff series. 


New Hope (21-9) played without Hester, who was suspended for three days by Lowndes County Superintendent Mike Halford and New Hope Principal Lynn Wright for unspecified reasons. 


Hester, who is in his 17th season as New Hope''s coach, was suspended after an alleged incident during the Trojans'' playoff game at Hernando this past Saturday. 


New Hope was coached by assistant coaches Chris Ball, Eric Guerrero, Billy Ray Lee, and Steve Younger in Hester''s absence. 


New Hope jumped on Pontotoc for 10 runs in the first inning, with Hilton Gibson connecting for a grand slam. Gibson also doubled and scored three runs. 


Other leading hitters for the Trojans were Philip Tice with a double, single and RBI, Jake Upton with two singles and two runs, Davis Lee with two singles and a run, Josh Ferguson with a double and three runs, Jake Smith with a single and RBI, Will McReynolds and Brent Younger with a single each, and T.J. Upton with an RBI sacrifice fly. 


Dillon Hawkins pitched all five innings to earn the win. He surrendered four solo homers and struck out three. 


New Hope will play host to Pontotoc at 6 p.m. today in the second game of the series. 


Game three of the series, if necessary, will b at 6 p.m. Saturday. 


n West Lowndes 4, Edinburg 3: At Edinburg, Clark McCollum went the distance on the mound to pitch the West Lowndes Panthers past Edinburg in the Class A playoffs. 


McCollum (5-3) allowed only three hits and struck out nine. 


West Lowndes (19-6) took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series and can wrap up the series with a win at home tonight. Game 2 is scheduled for 6 p.m. 


The Panthers scored in the first on a bases-loaded, two-run double by Demetrius Malone, in the third on a fielders'' choice RBI by Arick Smith, and in the fifth on an RBI single by Smith. 


n Starkville 10, Warren Central 7, 8 innings: At Vicksburg, Nick Brooks scored the go-ahead run on a hit by Chuck Tillery in the top of the eighth inning to spark the Yellow Jackets in their opening game of the Class 5A state playoffs. 


The win pushes Starkville (19-6) into a matchup against Madison Central (18-4) at 4 p.m. today. 


Warren Central (9-19) will play the loser at 7 tonight. 


The teams combined for 27 hits, seven double plays, five lead changes, and was tied after the fourth and seventh innings. 


Brooks, Starkville''s No. 9 hitter, led off the eighth with a bloop single to left field. Tillery followed with a hit into the left-center field gap. Brooks collided with the catcher in a play at the plate, but the catcher couldn''t hold on to the ball for the go-ahead run. 


Tillery scorred on an errant pickoff attempt, and R.J. Johnson singled in Daniel Forde, who was intentionally walked. 


Brooks (two hits, two runs, three RBIs) pitched a scoreless eighth. while Tillery, Jason Keel, Forde, and Johnson all had two hits. 


n East Webster 17, Bogue Chitto 2: At Bogue Chitto, Blake Love''s grand slam was the big blow Thursday night for the Wolverines (26-3) in game one of their MHSAA Class 1A second-round state playoff series. 


East Webster had 13 hits to back the pitching of Tanner Roberson, who went three innings and gave up one run and one hit and struck out four. 


The Wolverines scored seven runs in the third inning and two in the fifth en route to their five-inning victory. Cody Silver had two singles, while Reginald O''Briant, Roberson, and Jordan Mixon added doubles. 


Game two will be at 4 p.m. Saturday. Game three, if necessary, will follow 20 to 30 minutes after that game. 


n In other state playoffs games involving area teams, Mooreville beat Amory 4-3 in game one of their Class 3A second-round series. 


Game two will be at 6 p.m. today in Mooreville. 


North Pontotoc defeated Louisville 10-1 in game one of their Class 3A second-round series. 


Game two will be today in Louisville. 




n East Webster 7, Bogue Chitto 2: At Bogue Chitto, Jessica Halterman pitched a complete-game four-hitter to lead the Lady Wolverines in game one of their best-of-three MHSAA Class 1A state playoff series.  


Halterman (19-6) won her 98th career game to move East Webster (20-8) one win away from advancing to the next round. 


East Webster will play host to Bogue Chitto at 5 p.m. Saturday. Game three, if necessary, would be played 20 to 30 minutes after the completion of game two. 


"We played well and hit the ball well and got some key hits," East Webster coach Bill Brand said. "Defensively we played well behind Jessica. Once we got the lead we concentrated on throwing strikes and getting outs." 


Brand said a key was a leadoff triple by Swayze Hollenhead and a double by Jordan Sisk that helped the Lady Wolverines get on top early. 


Hollenhead had three hits to lead the team, while Sisk was 2-for-3, Caitlyn Williams and Halterman were 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, and Iyeshia Thomas added a double. 


n Hamilton 4, Hatley 3: At Hatley, The Lady Lions (14-10) won their fourth consecutive game Thursday and took another step closer to advancing to the Class 2A state title series with a victory against their Monroe County rival. 


Hamilton scored two runs in the top of the fifth and added two runs in the top of the seventh before Hatley rallied in the bottom half of the seventh. 


Sydney Sanders singled to start the fifth. Caitlyn Atkins sacrificed her to second base and Miranda McCormick tripled in Sanders. Kelle West''s squeeze bunt scored McCormick. 


In the seventh, Atkins singled, McCormick sacrificed and reached on a fielder''s choice. West tripled in both runs and was thrown out at home trying to stretch it for a home run. 


Hamilton played without Shelby Savage, who didn''t play to attend to family matters. 


In her place, Lyndsey Williams started and pitched into the seventh. She threw 5 2/3 innings and struck out four and allowed four hits. 


West came on in relief and struck out two and surrendered two hits. She walked the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters to start the bottom of the seventh. She got the next two outs and walked the No.. 3 hitter. A fielder''s choice allowed a run to score and two singles made it 4-3 with the bases loaded. 


Williams struck out the final batter to end the game. 


"It''s stepping up in huge situations, and that was a huge thing to step up without one of our veterans (Savage)," Hamilton coach Jason Cobb said. "She is one of only two or three to play on the least team that played for the state championship. It was a lot on these kids. I commend the players so much for stepping up to that because we had no idea anything was going on until 30 minutes before gametime. I am so proud of them for the way they stepped up, for the way Lyndsey pitched, for the way they played defense, and for the way they hit and got the runs we had to have." 


Game two will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, with game three, if necessary, to follow. 




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