STARKVILLE -- Officially, Tuesday morning's event at Starkville High School was listed as an introductory news conference for the Yellow Jackets' new athletic director and football coach.
For Milton Smith, it was a homecoming.
Smith, a 1986 graduate of Starkville High who spent 13 seasons as football coach at Laurel High, was welcomed back as Starkville High's athletic director. He was introduced with Ricky Woods, the school's new football coach.
STARKVILLE -- New Starkville High School football coach Ricky Woods sees his latest career stop ending in one of two ways.
"They will either fire me or retire me," Woods said.
While the comment was made in jest, Woods used his introductory news conference at the Starkville Athletic Center to bring home the point that this would be the last job of his highly decorated coaching career.
STARKVILLE -- It's now official.
STARKVILLE -- Around the Starkville High School football program, the news traveled fast Thursday afternoon.
On the ride home from the NCAA tournament Lafayette Regional, one had to think long and hard for the right words to sum up the Mississippi State softball team's season.
The Bulldogs finished 36-21 after going 1-2 in the regional. Playing as the No. 3 seed, MSU beat No. 4 seed Weber State and dropped two hard-fought games to No. 2 seed Baylor.
LAFAYETTE, La. -- When postseason play began, Mississippi State softball coach Vann Stuedeman said her squad would go as far as pitcher Alexis Silkwood could carry them.
Silkwood carried the Bulldogs to the doorstep of the championship round of the NCAA tournament Lafayette Regional. However, the bats couldn't help guide the team through to a matchup against Louisiana-Lafayette.
LAFAYETTE, La. -- It was a different ending for Julia Echols.
However, this one hurt just as bad, if not more, for the Mississippi State senior second baseman.
Echols was injured when the MSU softball team's season ended in the NCAA tournament Lafayette Regional a year ago. On Sunday afternoon, Echols was a big part of the action.
However, the final out in a 2-0 loss to Baylor in the Lafayette Regional at Lamson Park was even more severe, as it meant the end of her career with the Bulldogs.
LAFAYETTE, La. -- It took a long time, but the Louisiana-Lafayette softball team came away the big winner when the NCAA tournament Lafayette Regional came to a close Sunday night.
With four games at Lamson Park, top-seeded ULL closed the regional with a 9-1 win against second-seeded Baylor in six innings to claim the regional title late Sunday night.
Former New Hope High School standout DJ Sanders has played softball her entire life.
Still, she keeps learning.
The Mississippi State softball team found itself at the crossroads Saturday afternoon of another difficult NCAA tournament regional assignment.
Playing in the Lafayette Regional, MSU lost to Baylor 8-4 on Friday night to open the four-team, double-elimination event. In the softball world, losing the first game of a regional makes advancing to the super regional next to impossible.
LAFAYETTE, La. -- Missed opportunities.
The Mississippi State softball team had the baserunners Friday night, but it couldn't deliver the critical hit it needed. MSU stranded 10 runners in its opening game at the NCAA tournament Lafayette Regional en route to an 8-4 loss to Baylor at Louisiana-Lafayette's Lamson Park.
MSU (35-20) will play to keep its season alive at 6 p.m. Saturday when it takes on Weber State (38-18). The Bulldogs will have to win twice Saturday to advance to today's championship round.
LAFAYETTE, La. -- Mother Nature continues to be the big winner in the NCAA tournament's Lafayette Regional.
The elimination game between Mississippi State and Weber State was halted by rain Saturday night. MSU led 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning when the delay started at 7:56 p.m.
That game will be completed at noon today.
LAFAYETTE, La. -- Mississippi State softball coach Vann Stuedeman has made her mark as a pitching specialist.
However, Stuedeman has built the Bulldogs program in atypical fashion.
Instead of using one ace pitcher, the Bulldogs have relied on pitching by committee -- with starters some relieving and relievers sometimes starting. She has called it playing softball with a baseball mentality.
This season, though, has proven quite different.
OXFORD -- The New Hope High School baseball team played potentially its best game of the season Tuesday night.
Unfortunately, one swing turned its fortunes the wrong way.
Ben Bianco's two-run, walk-off home run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning lifted top-ranked Oxford to a 3-2 win against New Hope in Game 1 of the best-of-three Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State championship playoff series at Edwin Moak Field.
STARKVILLE -- Southeastern Conference Network analyst Maria Taylor asked Mississippi State softball coach Vann Stuedeman a question hoping to elicit a long answer.
Instead, Stuedeman took the simple approach to explain her team's offensive resurgence.
"It's the Ricketts effect," Stuedeman said.
When Lee Boyd was hired, the New Hope High School baseball program was looking to return to the state's elite.
In his six seasons as head coach, the Trojans have climbed back to the top of mountain. Apparently, they plan to stay there.
New Hope will face No. 1 Oxford tonight in Game 1 of the best-of-three Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State championship series. This team has shown Boyd has built a program with staying power.
STARKVILLE -- Kate Mattox strives for perfection.
That is why some parts of the track and field season for this Starkville High School sophomore have been a disappointment.
"I really want to always get better," Mattox said. "This season has been difficult. I feel like I haven't performed as well as I wanted to. I was behind some of my personal times. That is really when my sisters and my teammates have picked me up. They have kept me encouraged through the good and the bad times."
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State senior softball player Julia Echols feels like her team will have a slight home-field advantage this weekend.
"We are excited to be going back to ULL," Echols said. "I think we have played well down there. It's close enough that we can have a lot of our fans traveling down there. We are excited to still be playing.
"It's a huge advantage. When you go somewhere you haven't been before, you have to get acclimated to the field. This year, we can step in right away and feel at home."
It's time for the New Hope High School baseball team to take the next step.
Granted, this one will be the team's toughest.
New Hope (24-5) will play for the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State championship for the fourth-straight season. Top-ranked Oxford (31-0) will be the opponent when the best-of-three series kicks off at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Edwin Moak Field in Oxford. Game 2 will be at 7 p.m. Friday at New Hope. If needed, Game 3 would be at 7 p.m. Saturday in Oxford.
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