February 12, 2009
CALEDONIA -- Tyler Aldridge is honest when he looks back at his athletic career.
He always had confidence in whatever sport he played -- football, soccer, or baseball -- but he feels something was missing.
"When I was a freshman and a sophomore, I broke down mentally," Aldridge said. "The physical part was always there, but I wasn''t thinking.
Aldridge smiled Wednesday when he related his memories because it was satisfying to know how far he has come -- and how much more he can improve.
Aldridge secured an opportunity to see how much more progress he can make Wednesday when he signed a letter of intent to play baseball at East Mississippi Community College.
Caledonia High baseball coach Sam Adams, who has coached Aldridge since the eighth grade, agreed with Aldridge''s assessment. He has watched Aldridge, a shortstop/pitcher, improve since then to become a player who will take his work ethic and skills to the next level.
"As he kept playing and got a little more knowledge of the game, he actually became a student of the game," Adams said. "He is the kind of guy who is going to be there first at practice and he is going to the extra to get better every day."
Caledonia High football coach Jason Forrester saw the same intangibles in Aldridge. Forrester also coached Aldridge in boys soccer up until this season, when Morgan Mansfield took over the program.
Forrester said Aldridge, who played quarterback since his freshman season, was a vocal leader and a leader by example. He said Aldridge would try to find the time if he could to play all three sports at EMCC.
"He always wants to get better," Forrester said. "No matter what it is, he always is looking for some way to improve himself. ... He is definitely going to be an asset wherever he goes because he is going to bring a work ethic that will bleed over to other people."
Aldridge was the starting goalkeeper on the Caledonia boys soccer team this season that won its first playoff game and advanced to the Class 4A North Half State final.
Aldridge hopes he can help the baseball team have similar success. He credited Adams and his father, Doug, for helping him mature as an athlete.
"My dad always has told me what I did wrong and what I did right," Aldridge said. "He has always talked to me about being mentally there and having your head in the game. I guess that is what helps me out in the game and what might go one and what I have to do when the ball is hit to me."
n Delta Academy 72, Immanuel Christian 49 (B): At Marks, Wesley Aldridge had a game-high 24 points Wednesday to beat the Rams in the Mississippi Private School Association Class A, North Tournament.
Justin James had eight points and Jamie Gore added seven for Immanuel.
n Starkville Academy 51, Jackson Prep 36 (B): At McComb, Jonathan McKenzie had 20 points and Rob Franklin added 11 Wednesday night to lead the Volunteers in the MPSA Class AAA, Division I Tournament at Parklane Academy.
James Blair had seven points and Luke Buckner added six for Starkville Academy.
n Starkville Academy 62, Parklane Academy 60 (G): At McComb, Valerie Stewart had a game-high 30 points Wednesday night to lead the Lady Volunteers in the MPSA Class AAA, Division I Tournament at Parklane Academy.
Maggie Gladney and Jessica Mixon each had eight points for Starkville Academy.
n Lamar School 53, Oak Hill Academy 44 (B): At Hattiesburg, Jordan Thompson had a game-high 21 points Wednesday night, but the Raiders lost in the MPSA Class AAA, Division II Tournament at Presbyterian Christian.
Steven Jones had seven points and Brett Barker and Travis Shope each had six for Oak Hill Academy.
n Hillcrest Christian 38, Oak Hill Academy 34 (G): At Hattiesburg, Ally Knowles had seven points, but the Lady Raiders lost in the MPSA Class AAA, Division II Tournament at Presbyterian Christian.
Catherine Trull had six points for Oak Hill Academy.
n Indianola Academy 54, Winston Academy 34 (G): At Canton, Carrie Strait had 10 points, but the Lady Patriots lost in the MPSA Class AA, North Tournament at Canton Academy.
Maggie Watson had seven points and Barbara McMillin had six for Winston Academy.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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