May 3, 2009
The West Lowndes High School baseball team didn''t want or expect its season to end the way it did Saturday.
Losing two-straight games in the third round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A playoffs wasn''t what the Panthers had in mind.
Vicksburg St. Aloysius opened the series with a 10-1 victory at West Lowndes on Friday and then defeated the Panthers 4-2 at home Saturday to clinch the series.
Despite the losses, West Lowndes coach Todd Stanley liked the way the Panthers competed this season.
"This was one of the better teams I''ve had," Stanley said. "We may not have always hit as well, but pitching and defense has led to one of the better teams we''ve had. I''m proud of the guys. You always want to go farther."
The Panthers (20-8) took pride in knowing they finished in the final four of the South.
With West Lowndes, East Webster, St. Aloysius and Stringer, Stanley was encouraged to be listed among that group.
It was still hard for him to see it come to an end for seniors D.Q. Farmer, Devin Malone, Deundra Brooks, Laquentis Brooks, Andre Brewer, Clark McCollum, Arick Smith and John Barney.
Farmer, who signed with Mississippi Valley, said the Panthers enjoyed a better season than most predicted.
It was still hard for him to see it come to an end.
"We made it this far and not many people thought we could because we lost a lot of seniors last year, but I''m proud of these guys," Farmer said. "I''ve enjoyed all of these players. I wasn''t ready for it to be over because we had too good of a team. They are going to have a good team next year, but I wanted to take advantage of this time. I encourage them to keep their heads up (for next year)."
On Saturday night, West Lowndes jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Farmer hit a double and McCollum drove him home with a single.
After the Flashes tied the score 1-1 in the fourth, the Panthers regained the lead in the fifth on an RBI single by Tyquan Lucious.
Lucious, who went the distance on the mound for West Lowndes, gave up the winning runs to St. Aloysius in the sixth.
Even though disappointed in the tough loss, Stanley was glad his team responded after being dominated on Friday.
"I thought the kids played hard and got us in a position to win," Stanley said.
St. Aloysius (24-3) moves on to play the winner of the East Webster-Stringer series in the Class 1A South State championship round.
n St. Aloysius 10, West Lowndes 1: West Lowndes committed five errors in the game and three in one inning to put itself in a hole during the first game of the series.
"Probably from an effort and defensive standpoint, this was the worst game of the year," Stanley said. "We had a great crowd and for whatever reason, we came out flat. We haven''t done that all year."
The Flashes took a 3-0 lead in the second inning on two hits and three errors by West Lowndes.
Farmer made one of the errors to allow one of the runs to score, and he believed it might come back to haunt the Panthers.
"We made (mistakes) behind our pitching which wasn''t very good," Farmer said. "You can''t come out flat against a good team like this."
After St. Aloysius scored another run in the third, West Lowndes scored its only run of the game when Barney singled and came home on an RBI single by Farmer.
The Flashes regained its four-run lead with a run in the fourth, then broke the game open with a five-run fifth.
That was more than enough support for St. Aloysius starting pitcher Stephen Evans, who went six innings, scattered five singles and struck out 10.
Devin Malone had two of the singles for the Panthers.
St. Aloysius coach Clint Wilkerson liked West Lowndes'' potential and was glad to see his squad get on a roll.
"They try to put baseballs in play and use their speed a little bit," Wilkerson said. "We handled that efficiently. They were athletic and dangerous."