STARKVILLE — Former Columbus High School offensive lineman Tobias Smith is going through offseason workouts at Mississippi State. Smith and the other Bulldogs coming back from injuries are happy about conditioning with little or no pain. Wide receiver Brandon McRae, running back Robert Elliott, tight end Marcus Green, and wide receiver O’Neal Wilder were all smiles Thursday exiting the Holliman Athletic Training Center. After breaking his left ankle in the first fall scrimmage of 2008 at MSU, Smith said he’s back to 100 percent. He credits the coaching staff, medical staff, and his family for helping him come back from the injury.
STARKVILLE — Sunday might be Father’s Day, but Saturday will be all about the women at Mississippi State. Mississippi State will play host to the Ladies Football Clinic, which will provide a wealth of information about football. Megan Mullen, the wife of Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen, believes the women who will participate will enjoy the experience.
Sharon Fanning feels blessed to be a part of the Mississippi State women’s basketball program. In 14 years as head coach, Fanning has won 233 games and has led the Lady Bulldogs to the postseason 10 times. This past season was one of the program’s best. MSU went 23-10 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Fanning was rewarded Thursday for the program’s success.
Basketball continues to nag at Kendrick Fox and Jason Smith. Even after successful careers at the University of Mississippi, Fox, 25, and Smith, 31, aren’t ready to put their sneakers away for good. That’s why Fox and Smith are keeping their games alive with the Tupelo Rock-n-Rollers in the World Basketball Association Exposure League. Their objective is to make an impression on the basketball court so they can secure an opportunity to play professional basketball overseas or with another league in the United States.
Stacy Hester said Thursday he plans to appeal the recommendation of Lowndes County School District Superintendent Mike Halford and the vote of the county’s school board that he not be retained as New Hope High School baseball coach. “I want them to man up and tell me why,” Hester said. “It is just amazing (this has happened after) all of the things I have done and have been a part of out in that program. (It is a shame that after) one little incident all of this stuff kind of blows up and you’re gone. I think they are hiding the fact that I had an at-will contract and they don’t have to tell me a thing.”
Davis Lee and Nick Durrah are changing before their coaches eyes. This past season, Lee and Durrah played key roles for the New Hope High and Columbus High baseball teams, respectively. Those roles figure to be even bigger next year when Lee and Durrah dress out for their senior and junior baseball seasons, respectively. Lee and Durrah showed Thursday that the work they’re doing this month with their Dizzy Dean team is helping them prepare for their new roles.
Philip Tice was back on his home turf Thursday night. But the New Hope High School rising senior is showing more and more people that he is at home whenever and wherever there is a baseball diamond. Tice arrived home about 4 a.m. Thursday with the rest of his teammates who represented the state of Mississippi at the Junior Sunbelt Classic in McAlester, Okla.
STARKVILLE — Starkville Academy had a winning fast-pitch softball season this past fall, but the players and coach Randy Haynes believe it could have been much better. As the Lady Volunteers prepare for this season by playing in the High School Summer League at the Starkville Sportsplex, they hope to learn the little things that will help them turn close losses into wins. Starkville Academy pitcher Lyndsey Haynes, daughter of the coach, knows a better start in games will go a long way to helping the team produce positive results.
STARKVILLE â€” The 30th annual George Evans Memorial Softball Tournament will be much about memories. Emphasis will be placed on those who have passed away recently and who has made an impact on the tournament through the years. The tournament, which will be June 26-27 at the Starkville Sportsplex, is named after the late George Evans, who was a member of the Deacon and Trustee Boards at Second Baptist in Starkville and was a leader in the city, county, and state.
Latorrence Bivens is an easy-going guy. But donâ€™t confuse Bivensâ€™ quiet demeanor with an inability to set high expectations and an unwillingness to push his players to reach those goals. Bivens hopes that mix of qualities can be part of what will help him transition to coaching girls basketball.
David Lane said former Mississippi State center fielder Grant Hogue canâ€™t get to Greeneville, Tenn., fast enough. Lane, the manager of the Greeneville Astros of the Appalachian League, believes Hogueâ€™s speed on the basepaths will make him an instant weapon when his team begins competition Tuesday.
STARKVILLE â€” The staff at the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum want to make sure the memory of former Negro League baseball player and Starkville native James â€śCool Papaâ€ť Bell isnâ€™t forgotten. On the suggestion by The Greater Starkville Partnership, the museum has put together a lasting tribute to Bell.
Coming out of high school, Jay Johnson was good enough in the eyes of Lou Holtz to play football at Notre Dame. Johnson signed with Notre Dame after playing on back-to-back undefeated state championship teams at Starkville High School, and went on to letter as a receiver from 1997-2000. Nine years after donning the gold helmet of the Irish, Johnson again is good enough in the eyes of Holtz to represent Notre Dame on the football field.
Darryl Wilson isn’t as quick and can’t jump as high as he did 13 years ago. But the stroke that made him a three-time All-Southeastern Conference shooting guard at Mississippi State is still there. And, like most shooters, when you challenge him that stroke becomes red hot. Wilson, 35, is rekindling his scoring touch with the Tupelo Rock-n-Rollers in the World Basketball Exposure League.
There wasn’t much more one could add to what was expressed Tuesday at a memorial service for Don Foster at the Starkville Sportsplex. Foster, the former sports editor of The Starkville Daily News, was a friend to many people, and I’m fortunate to be one of them. Don died June 8 at his West Point home. Starkville Academy girls basketball coach Glenn Schmidt, Starkville High School baseball coach Danny Carlisle, and former Mississippi State Athletic Director Larry Templeton were the main speakers and couldn’t have done a better job in recalling memories of Don. Their words were heartfelt and sincere.
STARKVILLE — There have been many changes to Mississippi State’s athletic landscape the past several months. The biggest deals with technology thanks to the installation of jumbotrons at Mississippi State’s football, baseball, and soccer stadiums. With those projects at or near completion, the focus at MSU has shifted to other needs.
STARKVILLE — The Pickens Academy Dizzy Dean baseball team, of Carrollton, Ala., looks at any opportunity to play this summer as a learning experience. The chance to come to Mississippi and play a Class 5A program like Starkville High School is an added bonus. Pickens Academy bounced back from a 5-3 opening-game loss to beat Starkville 10-3 in a six-inning second game to gain a doubleheader split.
Politics and coaching don’t mix. Stacy Hester followed that credo in his dealings with parents, administrators, and players. Sometimes it got him into trouble. Players left his program because they didn’t like playing for him. Parents thought Hester to be arrogant or unyielding in how he dealt with them or with their children. But through it all Hester established a standard of excellence. His teams won 551 games and three state titles his 18 years as New Hope High School’s baseball coach.
Baseball players never stop growing. For Ben Fleming, Brent Hallmark, and Garrett Harris, there is no better place to learn more about the game they love than close to home. The three former New Hope High School standouts are teammates on the Golden Triangle Jets in the Cotton States Baseball North Division. The former Trojans have helped the Jets get off to a 2-3 start in the inaugural season for the four-team wood bat league.
STARKVILLE — Chase Taylor knows he can be better. If the past two months are any indication, Taylor could start hitting the scores he’s looking for any time now. On May 2, the New Hope High School golfer won the 14- to 15-year-old group at the Optimist Club tournament at the Mississippi State Golf Course. The victory earned him a chance to play today and Tuesday in the district tournament in Meridian. The winner will go to West Palm Beach, Fla., to play in the International tournament in July
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