STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State senior catcher Scott DeLoach wasn’t considered much of a factor for playing time when the baseball season began. DeLoach was projected for defensive purposes to spell sophomore Cody Freeman and junior Ryan Duffy. But by the end of the season, DeLoach assumed a bigger role than he had ever dreamed. DeLoach not only played, but he finished the season as Mississippi State’s leading hitter with a .353 batting average.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State freshman starting pitcher Devin Jones had a rough outing against LSU on Saturday afternoon and was pulled after two innings. It wasn’t his final appearance of the day, however. Despite a 15-4 loss to LSU in the final game of the season, which included a 1 hour and 57 minute rain delay, the Mississippi State Bulldogs found a way to have a good time. After giving up six runs on seven hits, Jones probably wished he could’ve found a hole to crawl into and hide. His teammates wouldn’t allow that, however.
If things work out this weekend, Alexis Rack, of the Mississippi State women’s basketball team, will be a little busier this summer than she anticipated. The rising senior guard at Mississippi State is at the USA Basketball National Team Trials at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. East Mississippi Community College women’s basketball coach Sharon Thompson, a former women’s basketball player at MSU, also is in Colorado working as a court coach who is helping work the player in drills.
Missed opportunities aren’t any less frustrating in the spring. The only solace for New Hope coach Michael Bradley, Starkville coach Bill Lee, and Amory coach Pat Byrd is that their results in the New Hope High School Jamboree won’t count against them in the 2009 season. New Hope, Starkville and Amory completed its spring seasons Friday in action that also featured Pontotoc and Shannon. Starkville defeated Amory 21-7 and lost 10-7 to Pontotoc. Pontotoc defeated Amory 7-0. Those results were two-quarter games.
Junior Noel continues to mine the Golden Triangle for its top soccer talent. The East Mississippi Community College men’s soccer coach landed two more standouts Friday when he signed Caledonia High School’s Tyler Pounders and Columbus High’s Mike Hayward to national letters of intent.
Richard Martin had the Columbus High School boys soccer program on the verge of making the Class 5A playoffs this season. In his three seasons as coach, the Falcons improved from three, to nine to 11 victories. Now someone else will have to take the team to the next level. Martin recently announced he was stepping down as boys soccer coach at Columbus High to spend more time with his family.
MABEN — East Webster High School is losing three coaches and gaining a principal in one man. Bill Brand, who coached girls basketball and slow- and fast-pitch softball at the school this year, recently accepted a job offer to return to work as East Webster High School’s principal. Brand will take over for Phil Ferguson effective July 1.
MABEN — Wanda McPhail admitted Friday morning she was the lucky one. It was easy to see why McPhail used that word after listening to her read the resumes of Kaley Allen and Jessica Halterman. After reading an impressive set of accomplishments, McPhail watched as the East Webster High School academic and athletic standouts signed national letters of intent to play tennis at Meridian Community College.
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.
1. Mississippi Bowl has emerged as top destination COLLEGE SPORTS
2. MSU preparing for invitation to Liberty Bowl COLLEGE SPORTS
3. EMCC's Reed commits to Alabama COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Ray eager to see how MSU fares against TCU COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Tornadoes hope DL can dominate HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS