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VHS heads to Petal, fired up for playoffs

[10/15/01]Vicksburg High is riding a wave of confidence heading into the Class 5A state playoffs.

Struggling for most of the season, the Missy Gators (13-14) trounced Natchez, 13-5, on Tuesday, securing the last playoff spot in Division 6-5A.

Now, they take aim at Petal in a best-of-three series Tuesday.

“I’ve gotten reports that they are a good team,” said first-year Vicksburg coach Jennifer Wilkerson, whose team was shifted to the South this season. “They have a very good pitcher, but if our girls play well, we’ll be fine.”

Petal, just east of Hattiesburg, is in a baseball hotbed. The Lady Panthers beat out Wayne County, the only other team in Division 5-5A for the top spot and home-field advantage.

Wilkerson said the unknowns of playing a team she’s never seen should not be a disadvantage.

“Our girls are fired up right now,” said Wilkerson, who has had to change the practice routine because of bad weather. “We went through some tough times, but now have to play to the best of our ability.”

In the Natchez win, Dayna Nugent belted a seventh-inning grand slam to give VHS an eight-run lead.

Having to win by just two, the Missy Gators shut down Natchez in the final inning setting off a wild celebration.

Wilkerson said another hitting effort like the one against Natchez will be key.

“We have to get ground balls and line drives; that’s so important,” Wilkerson said. “We need to have patience at the plate and not get nervous.”

Game time is 5 p.m.