STARKVILLE — Pearl Rack had dreams for her daughter. As someone who enjoys dancing and as a past sponsor of the Franklin High School (La.) dance team, Pearl imagined a day when her youngest child, Alexis, would take the stage for a performance and delight audiences with her moves. Pearl decided to assist Alexis with her steps by enrolling her in a dance class. But Alexis wouldn’t move.
STARKVILLE — The much-heralded but untested freshman pitching class of the Mississippi State baseball showed why head coach John Cohen had no qualms about leaning on the newcomers this year. In just the second game of the season, freshman starter Chris Stratton and freshman relievers Kendall Graveman and C.C Watson combined on a five-hit shutout to pitch Mississippi State past Rhode Island 9-0 on Saturday. MSU (2-0) will host Rhode Island again at 1:30 p.m. today in the final game of the season-opening series.
STARKVILLE — This time, there would be no Greenville-Weston upset at The Beehive. Starkville High School guard Edward Townsel said he and his teammates had long put last year’s shocking loss to Greenville-Weston in the MHSAA Class 5A North State Tournament behind them. But with the way the Yellow Jackets played Saturday it seemed like there was some revenge on tap in their 80-63 win to clinch the Class 6A North State championship.
In the end, their hearts couldn’t be questioned. That was little solace Friday night to coach Drew McBrayer and the members of the New Hope High School boys basketball team, who were left shaking their heads at what could have been. Four and seven tenths, or was it 6.9 seconds? Did Johnathan Brandon foul Callaway High’s Deville Smith on the last-second 3-pointer? Those questions will haunt a game New Hope team for a long time because the Trojans weren’t satisfied with the answers they received on their home floor.
BALDWYN –– The West Lowndes Panthers were outscored only one quarter Friday, but that quarter was the difference as they suffered a 53-49 loss to West Bolivar in the semifinals of the MHSAA Class 2A North State Tournament. West Lowndes (19-7) was outscored 20-15 in the fourth quarter to suffer the season-ending loss. The Panthers took a 34-33 lead into the final period after the score was tied 12-12 at the end of the first quarter and 22-22 at halftime. West Lowndes was led in scoring by Demetrius Malone with 16 points and Tyquan Lucious with 15.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. –– The third time was the charm for Wade Goodman and the Pickens Academy girls basketball team. Pickens Academy won the AISA Class AA state championship in Goodman’s third season as head coach by beating Laikeside Christian 53-39 at Huntingdon College on Friday. “It’s really the combination of three years of hard work,” Goodman said. “The girls deserve everything they got.”
Baseball fans in the state of Mississippi should have a new gold mine of information available to them very soon. Gene Swindoll, whose Web site, Gene’s Page, has been covering Mississippi State athletics, including recruiting, since 1996, hopes to bring Mississippi Hardball on line at the end of this week. The site, www.MississippiHardball.com, will focus on junior college, high school, and travel teams and players in and from the state of Mississippi. Swindoll said there will be some carryover of coverage of senior colleges, particularly when it comes to MSU baseball recruiting news, but he said the site will concentrate its efforts on recruiting.
The Columbus High School powerlifting team is making progress. A year ago, the Falcons advanced four athletes to the North Half State meet. The number was a start for a program that was beginning to understand the benefits of weight training. This year, Columbus nearly doubled that number at the Region 1-6A meet on Feb. 12 at Calhoun City High. The Falcons placed seven competitors in the top three spots and finished with 43 points, just behind champion Tupelo (44 points).
The six teams that participated Saturday in the jamboree at Columbus High School couldn’t have asked for better weather to open their seasons. The spring-like temperatures only 13 days into the official start of Mississippi High School Activities Association baseball season provided a welcome setting for teams eager to get their seasons started later this week. And while some teams were ahead of others, the consensus is that everyone will get better with more time on the field.
The distance — three feet — is negligible. At one or two steps, most players travel that distance countless times in the blink of an eye during a game. But that three feet could turn out to play a big difference in Mississippi High School Activities Association fast-pitch softball this season. MHSAA teams will play on fields with pitching rubbers at 43 feet. Last year, the pitching rubbers were at 40 feet. It might take a blink of eye to cover the added three feet, but any added time players get to see pitches could help give them an advantage at the plate.
BALDWYN –– The West Lowndes Panthers pulled away in the second half Thursday to beat Williams-Sullivan 89-70 in the MHSAA Class 2A North State Tournament. West Lowndes (19-6) held a slim 42-38 halftime lead before outscoring Williams-Sullivan 20-12 in the third quarter and 27-20 in the fourth. “They played really well,” West Lowndes coach Herman Peters said. “They played well as a team. They played with great effort. It was spread out. It wasn’t like a one-person show.”
STARKVILLE — Picked by league coaches to finish last in the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference, the Mississippi State baseball team’s excitement about the 2010 season has an obvious reality in the team’s reconstruction. Year 2 of John Cohen’s command will see 18 fresh faces open the season at 4 p.m. today against Rhode Island at Dudy Noble Field. They’ve also gotten their first taste of just how celebrated MSU baseball is by experiencing Dudy Gras.
STARKVILLE — MississippiState men’s tennis coach Per Nilsson thinks his team might not have been fully tuned-in during a 3-3 start to the season. Today’s home opener against UAB at 2 p.m. starts a three-match homestand after MSU suffered a 4-2 loss to Brigham Young and 5-2 setback to No. 24 Washington. Mississippi State rebounded from the Washington loss with a 5-2 win against East Tennessee State, but Nilsson believes the team could very easily be 5-1 heading into today’s matches. The Bulldogs opened the season with a 4-3 loss to Ole Miss at the River Hills Cup in Jackson.
STARKVILLE — What could have been a spectacular night, with a national television audience watching the Mississippi State men’s basketball team bid for an upset of No. 2 Kentucky, turned ugly Tuesday. Mississippi State’s image suffered a black eye when unruly fans threw bottles of water onto the court at Humphrey Coliseum after Kentucky rallied to beat the Bulldogs 81-75 in overtime. Mississippi State Director of Athletics Greg Byrne isn’t happy about it. Neither is university president Dr. Mark Keenum.
STARKVILLE — Pitching was an emphasis for the Mississippi State baseball team heading into the offseason. With a new stable of young arms someone’s got to set an example. The Bulldogs will turn to sophomore Nick Routt to lead a relatively green group of pitchers this season after the Maryland native turned in a stellar true freshman year in 2009.
Pulling tires up and down a mile-long road might sound like a training tactic used for a Strongman competition. Zach Taylor isn’t there yet, but he used the specialized form of exercise to open his track and field season with a bang. Competing last week at the South Zone Indoor Championship in Baton Rouge, La., the Heritage Academy freshman finished first in the 60-meter dash (7.24 seconds) and fourth in the 200 (24.59) in the intermediate boys division.
STARKVILLE –– Stan Miller’s retirement has been put on hold for a second time, but this go around he has Starkville as the final destination. Miller has put off retirement to become the Athletic Director at Starkville High School. Once a Jersey City, N.J., high school baseball player, Miller made the trek to Florida to play junior college baseball before moving to Starkville to attend Mississippi State University.
Melissa Word wants the ball in the hands of LaPrecious Thompson at the end of the game. Not only does the Canton High School junior guard have a smooth handle, but she also has a sweet touch from the free-throw line.
STARKVILLE — The University of Kentucky men’s basketball team found a way to close at the end. It should be expected from the No. 2 team in the country, but the Wildcats had to grind for it. The nip-tuck match saw Kentucky mow down a seven-point hole to force overtime, where it clinched the foul-ridden match — 45 in all — 81-75.
The New Hope High School boys basketball team didn’t bowl anyone over Tuesday night with its offensive effort. But the Trojans threw all strikes on the defensive end.
2. Baseball Bulldogs hit road for major weekend COLLEGE SPORTS
3. MSU softball faces No. 8 Kentucky for weekend series COLLEGE SPORTS
4. MSU, Alabama, Ole Miss women fall in SEC Tournament COLLEGE SPORTS