Phillip Morris isn’t the best 3-point shooter. He didn’t have eye-popping numbers as a senior point guard for the Columbus High School boys basketball team. But the key for coaches when they recruit is to identify players who have the intangibles, are willing to buy into a team concept, and who are willing to listen and to be coached. Morris gets a perfect score in those categories, which is why Friday was a special day for him and his family.
STARKVILLE — Gloria Jamison has a special perspective on Tavaris Tate. As minister at Columbus’ Maranatha Faith Center, Jamison has known for some time that Tate is destined for great things. She became convinced of that one day when she was standing at the altar and Tate approached her. At that moment, Jamison said, God showed her Tate would excel as a track and field athlete. Tate is proving Jamison’s vision correct.
The University of Alabama baseball team’s offense is intimidating when you look at the numbers. Alabama leads the Southeastern Conference in batting average (.338), hits (550), slugging percentage (.592), on-base percentage (.423), runs scored (423), RBIs (394), doubles (116), and total bases (963). When Mississippi State plays host to Alabama in a three-game SEC series at 6:30 p.m. today, 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, the Bulldogs primary task will be to try to hold down that offense.
Mississippi State’s basketball program might not have a “Varnado” next season, but it will have a “Renardo.” Renardo Sidney, a McDonald’s All-American from Fairfax High School in Los Angeles and the nation’s No. 7 prospect in the country according to ESPN’s Scout’s Inc., signed Thursday afternoon with Mississippi State. MSU spokesman Gregg Ellis confirmed the signing, which ended a week of speculation about Sidney’s destination.
HAMILTON — This weekend is the Hamilton High School fast-pitch softball team’s chance to shine. The Lady Lions will try to do it with fire and desire. “Fire and desire” was the slogan on a sign taped to the wall in Hamilton’s dugout Saturday when it faced Hatley in game two of its Class 2A North Half title series. Hamilton (15-10) won that game 7-6 to earn the opportunity to play Loyd Star at 6 p.m. today in the first game of the Mississippi High School Activities Association best-of-three Class 2A state championship at Freedom Ridge State Park in Ridgeland.
MABEN — Another championship walk would suit the East Webster High School fast-pitch softball team just fine. Last week, the three-time defending champion Lady Wolverines concluded their most recent South Half state title with a 7-0 victory against Bogue Chitto. After the final out was recorded in senior Jessica Halterman’s no-hitter, East Webster coach Bill Brand talked to his team and then had seniors Halterman, Iyeshia Thomas, Jordan Sisk, Darlynda Wilson, and Caitlyn Williamson had join arms and walk from the center field fence to the backstop.
If baseballs are going out to left or right field the Stowers brothers have them covered. West Lowndes High School’s Ryan and Trevor Stowers have provided the defense necessary to keep the Panthers in games and have delivered key contributions to help them make the third round of the Mississippi High School Association Class A playoffs against Vicksburg St. Aloysius. Trevor said he never knows when a play he makes in the outfield might be a difference in a game.
HAMILTON — Part of the beauty of sports can be found in the numbers. Some statistics are hard to comprehend, regardless of how many times you look at them. Chase Reeves still finds it difficult to believe he owns one of those numbers: Zero. The junior left-hander has allowed 11 runs this season — all unearned.
Sometimes, for whatever reason, players who appear to have an unlimited upside go unnoticed. Devin Malone is one of those players. The West Lowndes High School senior showcased his skills on the court earlier this year as he helped lead the school’s boys basketball team to the Class 1A state tournament in Jackson. Malone hopes to play a similar role with the West Lowndes High’s baseball team.
STARKVILLE — Spring football practice started this week at Starkville High School, but Billy Shed isn’t ready to take that field just yet. As the football team worked out on a nearby field, Shed and fellow members of Starkville’s 4x400-meter relay team were preparing on the track for Saturday’s Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State meet at Madison Central High School. Shed will be a returning safety for coach Bill Lee this fall, but right now track and field is a priority.
The Road Dawgs Tour is getting closer to Columbus. Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen and other members of the athletic department are making plans to make their Lowndes County appearance at the Plymouth Bluff Center on Monday. It’s one of the stops Mullen is making among 16 cities across the Southeast. Anyone wanting to attend must purchase their $15 tickets by today at Coldwell Banker West Realty or BankFirst in Columbus.
CALEDONIA — Jelisha Hackman has explosion. Typically, though, when you compete in the 100 meters you’re pushing off a block fastened to the track at the start of a race. Hackman’s propulsion in the sprint comes from a standing start, in part because of the lack of track and field facilities at Caledonia High School. But Hackman, just like many of her teammates, has learned to live and to succeed with what she doesn’t have.
Mallory Byrd likes to move. To satisfy her daughter, Val Byrd signed Mallory up to participate in dance classes so she could learn ballet, tap, and jazz steps. She quickly discovered Mallory needed a certain kind of movement. “It wasn’t her thing,” Val Byrd said of the dance classes. It wasn’t difficult for the Byrds to find an alternative. Mallory’s love for watching Olympic gymnastics turned out to be the motivation to get involved in the high-speed, high-flying sport.
Sindhu Shivaji knew she could believe Zachary Patterson. After all, it’s easy to listen to someone who has won a state championship. So when senior Zachary Patterson said at the beginning of the season that the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science tennis team could be “awesome,” Shivaji knew she had to do her part to make that goal a reality.
It was tempting for Mississippi State track jumper Priscilla Gaines to participate Saturday at the Mississippi Open in Oxford. After reaching a season-high and regional qualifying long jump of 19 feet, 8 inches at the Mississippi Invitational on April 11, the chance for more success there was inviting. But Gaines has something more important to do Saturday.
MABEN — East Webster High School baseball coach Wes Johnson knows good pitching when he sees it. As a pitcher who played for coach Ron Polk at Mississippi State, Johnson understands the importance of commanding the strike zone.
A fast start Monday on day one of the 2009 NJCAA Region 23 Golf Championship proved to be elusive for Hal Larkin. Birdies on three of the first five holes gave the former Caledonia High School golf standout reason to believe he could secure a trip to the NJCAA National Championship. But Larkin’s early momentum evaporated.
Nashedra Barry likes to stay busy. In addition to the time she spends with the Columbus High School girls basketball and slow- and fast-pitch softball teams, the senior standout is involved in a host of clubs and other extra-curricular activities.
The Columbus High School assistant football coaches already are in midseason form. The CHS players are doing their part to join them. Judging from the players’ performance Friday in an intrasquad scrimmage, the Falcons have made the most of their offseason workouts and are attacking spring football with enthusiasm.
Philip Tice doesn’t hesitate when asked what qualities make a clutch hitter. “Confidence,” Tice said. In his first year as a varsity starter, Tice is showing confidence beyond his years.
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3. Hamilton's Lindsey, Heard celebrate track and field efforts HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Columbus' Jefferson will get shot at Snead State C.C. HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. MSU women's golf team eager for first NCAAs COLLEGE SPORTS