• 66°

Lady Hornets open play in tourney

Poplarville kicks off the 2006 slow pitch softball season today, hosting the annual Pete Jackson Memorial Tournament at the PHS softball field.

Head coach Jonathan Ray is in his sixth season at the helm of the Lady Hornets, who are coming off a 15-7 season last year.

Ray will have four seniors in his starting line-up tonight, as Poplarville takes on Purvis to kick the tourney off at 5 p.m., and then comes back to meet Hattiesburg at 8.

In between, Purvis and Hattiesburg will play at 6:30 p.m.

Irena Stringer is the only returning senior starter for the Lady Hornets, and will be joined by classmates Gina Martinez, Kelsey Vamos and Kourtni Peterson in the starting line-up.

“I think we’ll be pretty competitive,” Ray, who last season took on the duties of fast-pitch head coach as well, said. “We lost four seniors from last year, but we’ve got some key players coming back and I think even though Petal is probably favored to win the division I think overall it will be more balanced than it was last year.”

Last season, Petal and Picayune pretty much dominated league play in Division 8-4A, and then went on to meet in the Class 4A South State championship.

The Lady Hornets finished third behind the Lady Panthers and Lady Tide.

“We felt good about last season, and I hope we can build on it going into this year,” Ray added.

The Jackson Memorial Tournament will take place over four days, with three games played Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and seven games on Saturday.

On Thursday, Picayune joins the action. The Lady Tide opened their season Saturday with a pair of wins and hosts Biloxi tonight. On Thursday, Picayune meets Petal at 5 p.m., and then plays Moss Point at 8 p.m., with Petal and Moss Point meeting at 6:30.

There are eight teams involved in the four day, 16 game event with each team playing four games. After kicking things off tonight, Poplarville doesn’t play again until Saturday while Picayune is back in action on Friday and won’t be involved in Saturday’s games.

On Friday, Picayune meets Purvis at 5 p.m., and then takes on Long Beach right after that at 6:30.