CRAWFORD -- Two years ago, East Oktibbeha High School didn't have a track program. Saturday, the Titans have a chance to win a state track title. A district title and runner-up regional and Class 1A South State finishes have positioned the Titans to bring the school its first state title -- regardless of sport -- since the girls and boys basketball teams each won state crowns in 2007. Head coach Randy Brooks jump-started the program last year, and with a small group of freshmen sprinters totaled nine points at the state meet last season.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High's girls' track team heads to Pearl with less representatives than usual, but the Lady Jackets could end up with more individual titles than they did in last year's seventh place finish at the state meet. The Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A North State meet yielded just four state qualifiers for fourth-year head coach Mitchell Evans, but the Starkville graduate is banking on experience to push the five-runner team to a solid finish.
STARKVILLE -- With two Southeastern Conference series remaining and chances of postseason play long exhausted, the Mississippi State Bulldogs haven't packed it in. Seniors want to finish their careers on a positive note and coaches want to continue first-year players' integration into league play. The Bulldogs (21-28, 5-19 SEC), fresh off an 8-5 win against Northwestern State that snapped a school-record 11-game losing streak, host No. 18 Vanderbilt (36-13, 12-10) this weekend.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. ---- The South Lamar High School softball team earned a berth in the Final Four of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class A State Tournament by winning two games Thursday. South Lamar put its back to the wall with a 4-1 loss to Pleasant Home in its opening game of the double-elimination tournament, but kept its quest for a state championship alive by beating Sweet Water 10-0 in five innings and Waterloo 1-0. South Lamar (37-12) advanced in the tournament at Lagoon Park to play Ariton at 10:30 a.m. today.
STARKVILLE -- Russ Sneed drove in four runs and the Mississippi State baseball team snapped an 11-game losing streak with an 8-5 win against Northwestern State on Wednesday.
STARKVILLE -- Al Schmidt described Mississippi State's track performances at the Penn Relays as "magical." Who knows how he'll feel if the Bulldogs continue their trophy-winning form.
Michael Bradley doesn't want past success to go to his players' heads. The New Hope High School football team has lost to the eventual state champion (Noxubee County in Class 4A in 2008, West Point in Class 5A in '09) the past two seasons.
HAMILTON - At most high schools, winning division titles, playing in North Half title series, and competing for state championships are the stuff of dreams. That's not the case at Hamilton High School, however, where the baseball team has garnered more than its share of championships in the past 16 years.
STARKVILLE -- Sometimes, your next direction comes from a divine source. Clay Stringer's faith in God presented him with an opportunity he has relished since he became a high school teacher and coach. And as tough as the decision to leave Starkville Academy was, Stringer followed his heart and accepted a position to be principal at Hillcrest Christian School.
Bruce Branch can't wait to get started. The 2010 baseball season recently ended for Heritage Academy, but Branch, who was hired as the school's new head coach Tuesday, is already rearing to go. "I am excited for the opportunity," Branch said. "I am kind of overwhelmed. I am trying to take it all in."
David Boykin will coach in Class 4A, Region 4, District 4 this season. The only change is he will do his work at a different school. On Tuesday, the Louisville School District approved the hiring of Boykin as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for the Louisville High School football team.
Tyrone Shorter didn't intend to stay in Noxubee County. Fresh off a training camp stint with the NFL's San Diego Chargers and a year with the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos, Shorter moved back to Macon to be closer to his mother, who had just remarried. Shorter's step father knew a man -- M.C. Miller -- who changed those plans. Miller, the coach of the Noxubee County High School football team, remembered Shorter from his playing days at Port Gibson High School, and it didn't take him long to offer him a job as an assistant coach on his staff.
Sammy Smith looks back and smiles when he thinks of where Michael Hall, Akeem Toppin and Bobby Wrench were as freshmen. The ninth-graders didn't have a lot of success on the basketball court, but Smith saw the potential in each young man. "They grew, they grew, the grew and they made steps," Smith said. "The group before them, Philip (Morris) and Josh (Carothers, East Central Community College), made a difference in their lives and made them push a little harder. That made myself and the staff feel real good. I think the community will be pleased with how we have the boys going on (to college) and, hopefully, they will be successful in life and with what they're going to do." All three players recently realized opportunities to have basketball be a part of the next steps in their lives. Hall will continue his athletic career at Southwest Mississippi C.C., while Toppin and Wrench will be teammates at Copiah-Lincoln C.C.
The South Lamar High School softball team will get another chance to win a state championship after finishing runner-up last season. South Lamar has earned a berth in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class A State Tournament for the second year in a row after losing to Speake in last year's championship game. The Lady Stallions (34-11) earned a berth in the state tournament by finishing runner-up to Ragland in the North Central Regional Tournament at Vestavia Hills, Ala., this past Saturday. South Lamar's opening game is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday against Pleasant Home at Lagoon Park in Montgomery, Ala.
With each meet this track season, Mississippi State's men's relay teams have built notoriety and put its stamp on the nation's high-profile events.
Four local high school baseball players were recently recognized for their accomplishments and earned spots on their state's All-State teams.
The best is yet to come for Kelli Petty. The New Hope High School track and field standout took the next to last step in her prep career in style Saturday, winning three individual events at the Class 5A North Half State meet.
The latest group of Mississippi State women's basketball players to reach the WNBA is down to one. The San Antonio Silver Stars released former MSU standout Alexis Rack and forward Krystal Vaughn on Monday.
STARKVILLE -- LaQuinta Aaron smiles when asked if Mississippi State's men's track team success has overshadowed the progress made by MSU's women. The All-Southeastern Conference hurdler and heptathlete enters this week's SEC Championships hoping to achieve the same kind of notoriety.
VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. -- The South Lamar High School fast-pitch softball team won four games to make it to the championship game and finished as the runner-up in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class A North Central Regional Tournament.
1. Central Academy softball looks for return to state tournament HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Walters column: Noxubee County rarely backs away from challenge HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. MSU men's basketball releases non-conference schedule COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Bulldogs land commitment from McLaurin at Collins LOCAL SPORTS
5. Oak Hill Academy softball hopes to build on win column HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS