STARKVILLE –– The Mississippi State baseball team could not hold a lead Thursday night, suffering a 5-4 loss to second-ranked LSU in a Southeastern Conference game at Dudy Noble Field. Mississippi State (24-28, 8-19) led 4-1 before LSU scored three runs in the seventh inning and one run in the eighth. Mississippi State needed to sweep the three-game series with LSU to finish the season with a .500 record.
It has been 30 years since his first visit to Mississippi State’s Dudy Noble Field, but LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri said his return this weekend is special. Mainieri’s first experience at the Bulldogs’ home came in 1979 as a player at the University of New Orleans. The Privateers played in the NCAA tournament in Starkville that season. Mainieri’s relationship with the MSU fans took a positive turn in 2000 when he was the head coach at Notre Dame.
WEST POINT — Big plays usually are few and far between in spring football games. Like many sports, defenses typically get the better of offenses in preseason or games early in the season. That wasn’t the case Thursday night at McCallister Field at Hamblin Stadium. Tajh Ford had three touchdowns, including a 92-yard kickoff return for a score, to help Louisville High School defeat West Point 32-24 in the spring finale for both teams.
MACON — Vincent Sanders and Gussie Lane already can hear the haters. They likely are some of the same people who said the Noxubee County football team got lucky in 2007 when it advanced to the Class 4A state title game. Those doubters rejoiced when Laurel edged Noxubee County 19-16 to win the 2007 championship. The chatter kicked up again last year as the Tigers set out on a mission to finish the drill and win a Class 4A state title. Their hard work and team unity silenced the critics and D’Iberville in a 12-10 victory that gave the Tigers their elusive crown.
MACON — Reggie Harris couldn’t pass up this opportunity. As much as the former Noxubee County High School football player and coach wanted to remain at his alma mater, he felt he was ready to take a chance on becoming a head coach. It didn’t take long for someone to agree. Sunflower County School Superintendent Peirce McIntosh hired Harris last month to become the new football coach at Ruleville Central High School.
MACON — One loss can change a season. It can also test the resolve of a team that believes it is destined to win a state championship. The Central Academy slow-pitch softball team faced that challenge after it saw a double-digit lead vanish against Russell Christian en route to a 27-24 loss in the regular season. The players called the result “amazing.” Coaches Sammy Lindsey and Pres Dawkins called the defeat “mind boggling” and wondered if it would rattle their players and ruin the title dreams in an otherwise promising start to the season. There was no need to be concerned.
MABEN — West Oktibbeha High School boys basketball coach Joseph Landfair said a strong work ethic turned Deon Bedford into one of the better players in this area. East Mississippi men’s coach Mark White hopes to get more of that from Bedford in the future. Landfair talked about the past, while White looked ahead Thursday as Bedford signed a national letter of intent to play basketball at EMCC.
STARKVILLE — Softball is serious business in Florida. No one knows that better than Mississippi State sophomore outfielder Brittany Bell. While growing up in the Tampa area, Bell discovered how important the game was in the Sunshine State. Bell will accompany her Lady Bulldogs teammates to her home state this weekend for the NCAA tournament’s Tallahassee Regional. MSU will play California in the first round at 4 p.m. Friday. Florida State will play host to the double-elimination regional.
William Beckwith picked a good time to start swinging a hot bat for the Meridian Community College baseball team. Beckwith, a 2008 graduate of West Lowndes High School, went 12-for-18 with eight RBIs in four games to help MCC win the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament at Baton Rouge, La., last weekend. “I’d been waiting for that to happen,” Beckwith said of getting hot at the plate. “It felt great because I was helping my team get wins. (The ball looked) like a beach ball. It was a great feeling.”
Garrett Harris is looking forward to pitching for the University of South Alabama baseball team. But before he does, his focus is on taking care of unfinished business at Meridian Community College. Harris, a 2006 graduate of New Hope High School who has signed with South Alabama, welcomes an opportunity to pitch for MCC in the NJCAA South Central District Tournament.
Ladarrius Cole arrived at Itawamba Community College just wanting to contribute. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound outfielder from Nettleton High School has done much more than that, and the Indians are reaping the benefits. Cole, who leads the team with a .456 batting average, was one of a handful of players chosen to the All-Region 23 squad on Wednesday. Cole, Pontotoc’s Dustin Lunn (catcher), Auburn signee Justin Bryant (middle infielder), of Remlap, Ala,. and pitcher/second baseman Josh Chism were selected to the first team all-state squad.
STARKVILLE — Spring is a time for growth, especially for quarterbacks. Jaquez Johnson showed signs of being a promising quarterback last season as a sophomore at Starkville High School. After securing the starting job early in the schedule, Johnson had his ups and downs. In his first year leading the Yellow Jackets, he threw 15 interceptions and nine touchdowns, but he has committed to improving in the offseason.
With the support of her parents, Courtney Musgrove was able to open her own business. For three years, the 22-year-old, Mississippi University for Women student has operated the Full Out Tumble and Cheer gymnasium. The gym, which is in Columbus, provides students with opportunities to learn tumbling, cheerleading, and All-Star cheerleading, a competitive form of cheerleading.
STARKVILLE — There was a gasp in the crowd at Pearl High School last Saturday afternoon when Starkville High School senior sprinter Tavaris Tate took the baton for the final leg in the 4x400 relay, rallied from third place and ran away from the pack in the final race of the Class 5A state track meet.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State’s men’s basketball program received good news Monday about a big man for the third week in a row. After the signing of Renardo Sidney and the addition of John Riek, the Bulldogs learned Monday that center Jarvis Varnado plans to return for his senior season.
COLLINSVILLE — The New Hope High School baseball team always seemed to have the answer. Whether it was timely hitting, clutch pitching, or sparkling defense, the Trojans put everything together in the past month to sweep their first three playoff series. But one solution eluded them all season: How to solve Dustin McWilliams.
The Heritage Academy Patriots went from nearly striking out completely to striking back before finally having their season come to an end Friday night. Heritage was held scoreless on two hits with nine strikeouts through four innings before battling back in a 4-3 loss to Hillcrest Christian in the Mississippi Private School Association Class AAA playoffs. The Patriots (10-16) finished with only three hits and 16 strikeouts and didn’t have an RBI hit, but had a chance to win when they scored a run and loaded the bases in their last at-bat.
PEARL –– Starkville High School boys track coach Cleveland Hudson never lost faith in his team’s chances to defend its Class 5A state championship despite consecutive second-place finishes in the division, region and North State meets. That’s because Hudson had Tavaris Tate on his side. Tate accomplished something that had never been done before in Class 5A by winning the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes, and then pulling the 4x400 relay team through to victory as Starkville scored 66 points to overcome second-place Meridian’s 60.
Jasmine Abrams has her eyes set on higher goals. Her two seasons with the East Mississippi Community College women’s basketball team have made those aspirations more realistic. Now the former Columbus High School standout plans to take her game to the Division I level in hopes of taking the next step toward realizing her goal to play professional basketball. On Tuesday, Abrams, a 6-foot forward, signed a national letter of intent to play basketball in the fall at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
2. Bulldogs, Tigers begin new rivalry at SEC tournament COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Ole Miss, Alabama ready for tournament openers COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Transfer Bench narrows choices to MSU, USF COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Pieces come together to push New Hope to title series HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS