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Hernando baserunner Dillan Fiveash takes a lead off second base in Friday’s MHSAA 6A playoff contest against South Panola. The Tigers advanced into the third round, where they will play Northwest Rankin.  

Hernando’s baseball Tigers have advanced to the third round of the MHSAA 6A state playoffs with a three-game victory over South Panola, finished off by Saturday’s 4-0 victory in Batesville. The win, keyed by pitcher Ben Brantley, came after Hernando recovered from an opening-game loss to take a 3-1 victory Friday in Hernando.

Brantley struck out 10 batters Saturday night after Connor Spencer fanned 11 South Panola batters on Friday.

Hernando coach David Lara Friday said his team plays with confidence with pitchers like Brantley and Spencer on the mound.

“When he (Spencer) gets on the mound, he throws strikes,” Lara said. “Our guys have a lot of faith in him and they play great defense behind him. He can locate his fast ball and he has a good curveball and good change up.”

Grant Johnson led a 10-hit attack Saturday with three of his own. Friday, Brantley hit a two-run homer early in the contest for Hernando.

This weekend, Hernando plays Northwest Rankin in a best-of-three scheduled to start Thursday at 7 p.m. at Northwest Rankin. Game two will be Friday night in Hernando at 7 p.m. and a third game, if needed, goes back to Northwest Rankin on Saturday, also at 7 p.m. The winner will reach the North Half Final round.

DeSoto Central also moved ahead on the other side of the North Half bracket with a two-game sweep of Warren Central, which was completed with a 14-7 victory on Friday night.

Blaze Jordan and Hunter French each scored three times and had three hits each for the Jaguars in that contest. French and Connar Gardner each drove in three runs in Friday’s victory. The Jaguars had to wait until Monday night to see if Oxford or Madison Central would be the team its faces in the next round. A third game was needed Monday night to determine the winner of that series.

LEWISBURG ADVANCES IN 5A: The Lewisburg Patriots swept away Germantown (Madison) in two straight last weekend and had to wait past Monday night to determine its next opponent in the MHSAA 5A state playoffs. Lewisburg won Saturday 6-4 with two runs in the top of the eighth inning after Germantown had tied the contest with a run in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings. Jacob Hill led the Lewisburg offense with three hits.

Lewisburg is the lone DeSoto County 5A team now remaining in the postseason after Lafayette completed a two-game sweep of Center Hill with Saturday’s 12-3 victory and Ridgeland outscored Olive Branch 9-8 to finish off the Conquistadors.

TROJANS DOUBLE MACON ROAD: The Northpoint Christian School baseball Trojans took a pair of five-inning games from Macon Road Baptist on Saturday, winning the opener 8-0 and the second game by a 12-1 margin. Northpoint’s pitching was dominating, as Lance Saulsberry threw a perfect game in the opener and Blake Cherry tossed a no-hitter in the nightcap.

HERNANDO SOFTBALL RALLIES TO ADVANCE: The Hernando Lady Tigers moved into the North Half Final against county rival DeSoto Central with a doubleheader sweep of Northwest Rankin on Saturday. Facing elimination after a game one loss, the Lady Tigers scored six times in the fourth inning and once more in the sixth on their way to an 8-6 victory in the second game of the series. Rylee Eyster scored two runs for Hernando and had two hits in the win, along with Avery Taylor and Macey Everett. Emmie Muizers hit a grand slam homer to drive in four of Hernando’s eight runs.

Hernando came back and won the deciding game of the series Saturday 8-7, and now plays DeSoto Central in the North Half Final, set for Friday and Saturday. The defending MHSAA 6A champion finished a two-game sweep of Madison Central with an 8-0 victory Saturday afternoon.

NORTH HALF 6A TRACK: Southaven had the best team finishes from DeSoto County in the MHSAA 6A North Half track finals at Madison Central on Saturday.

The Southaven girls finished second to team champion Clinton by a 191-125 margin, while the Charger boys finished fifth with 45 points. Clinton also took the boys’ championship with a total of 162 points.

Among the boys, Hernando took sixth overall (34 points) with DeSoto Central 10th (22 points). Horn Lake was 14th overall with seven points.

After the Southaven girls, Hernando took fourth (56 points) and DeSoto Central finished fifth (47 points).

Individual event champions from DeSoto County included Daejah Eddings of DeSoto Central in the girls 400 meter dash (:57.97), and Katelyn Cartwright of Hernando was a double winner in the girls 800 meter run (2:21.64) and the 1600 meter run (5:19.40). The Hernando girls won the 4x800 meter relay in a time of 9:53.43, Southaven’s Jennie Matlock took the girls long jump with a leap of 17 feet, 5.5 inches. Keshuna Byrd took the girls’ shot put with a throw of 36 feet, 9.75 inches and the girls’ discus throw with a toss of 122 feet, six inches.

The boys’ meet saw Hernando’s Preston Burks take the 1,600 meter run in a time of 4:38.64.

NORTH HALF 5A TRACK: Center Hill’s girls track team repeated as North Half team champions in Saturday’s meet at Ridgeland, while the Mustang boys had the best DeSoto County finish in the same meet, taking sixth place overall. 

The Lady Mustangs claimed the team title with 103 points to second place Lafayette with 87.5. Olive Branch finished sixth overall (36 points), Lewisburg was 10th (31 points) and Lake Cormorant was tied for 11th with 15 points.

After the Center Hill boys (60 points), Lake Cormorant took seventh (39 points), Lewisburg was 10th (31 points) and Olive Branch was 11th with 29 points. Canton was the overall team champion.

Individual girls winners from DeSoto County were: Kaylen Johnson in the 100 meter dash (12.34 seconds), the Center Hill 4x100 meter relay team (49.32 seconds), the Lady Mustangs’ 4x200 meter relay team (1:45.90), Center Hill’s 4x400 meter relay team (4:24.56), Lewisburg’s Lanie Moss in the girls’ high jump (4 feet, 10 inches) and Olive Branch’s Jada Fortenberry in the girls’ long jump (16 feet, 11 inches).

Boys’ individual event winners Saturday were: the Lake Cormorant 4x100 meter relay team (43.25 seconds) and Center Hill’s Lee Sanders in the pole vault (11 feet, 6 inches)

SPORTS ETC.: Olive Branch assistant football coach Kyle Stanford announced on Twitter that he was leaving to become the head football coach at Robertsdale High School in Alabama. Stanford will also become the school’s athletic director. He was the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach for the Quistors.

Former Northwest Mississippi Community College quarterback Gardner Minshew was picked by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the sixth round of last weekend’s NFL Draft in Nashville.

Minshew is the 21st former Ranger to be selected in the NFL Draft and first-ever quarterback picked in school history. Minshew, who became the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year leading Washington State to a program-record 11 wins and a bowl victory in the Alamo Bowl, played one season at Northwest and led the Rangers to an NJCAA national title. He then played two years at East Carolina before finishing his college career at WSU.

ARKABUTLA FISHING REPORT: The Army Corps of Engineers has released its first weekly fishing report for the spring season. As of Friday, April 26 at 7 a.m., lake elevation was at 237.9 and was rising with water conditions clearing.

Along the ramps, white bass are up the river and creeks where they can be taken on jigs or small crankbaits over sand bars. Largemouth bass will be found in the clearest water available. Spinner bait and buzz bait to locate them.

Crappie are being caught mostly from small boats and kayaks, or by wading in the backwaters. The fish, however, are very scattered and holding in 1.5-5 feet of water. Gum trees with vines are best to hold fish. A few anglers are trolling at these depths with success.

Large catches of catfish are being reported using natural baits on trotlines over newly reflooded flats.

In the outlet channel, for crappie, use jigs and/or minnows out of the current, like in Elbow Creek or along the rocks. Fish catfish with natural baits near the bottom. White bass may be found with a jig rig just off the bottom. Largemouth bass are being found in any cover or right on the rocks in the spillway with crankbaits or jig-n-pig.

Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

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