The bigger-than-life portraits are gone from behind home plate, but the tradition remains. History -- in the form of signs on the outfield wall -- greets visitors once they enter Trojan Field. Beginning from the left-field corner and stretching around the field to the right-field corner, the yellow signs chart the success and the records of past New Hope teams. Members of the 2011 New Hope High School team hope one day to add to that tradition.
The rapport between a pitcher and his catcher is the most important relationship in baseball. The pitcher has to trust his partner behind the plate not only to call the right pitch, but he also has to believe his teammate behind the mask will stop whatever he throws. A catcher's job can be thankless. It requires toiling in the dirt and taking a beating from foul tips and pitches that fall just a little short of their intended mark.
CALEDONIA -- Caledonia and Ridgeland are at different points on the baseball spectrum. The Confederates have struggled to escape district competition the past few years, while the Titans have built their baseball program into one of the best in state. Last month, Ridgeland finished as the runner-up to Long Beach in Class 5A.
It may be summer ball, but Buddy Wyers is adamant West Point's progression to today's elite eight of the Dizzy Dean World Series will pay off in the spring. West Point, which improved to 10-14, will play at 4 p.m. today at Columbus High School's Sam Fletcher Field after topping Columbus 4-2 and Tupelo 19-2 on Friday. Despite a 12-2 loss to Neshoba Central on Saturday, West Point won its pool on a rain-soaked day that saw the site moved from West Point to Heritage Academy.
Starkville Acadedmy's three Dizzy Dean World Series losses this weekend ended its chances of progressing to today's elite eight. The young squad began Saturday's doubleheader with an 11-4 rain-soaked loss to Neshoba Central, which saw the entire West Point site shift to Heritage Academy Saturday due to rain and lightning. Starkville Academy's final Dizzy Dean game against West Point was not finished before press time.
Ricky Kendrick didn't have any reason to leave Amory High School. But a head coach will tell you once he has been in charge he often has an "itch" to work in that capacity again. The challenge of transforming the Caledonia High School football program into a winner interested Kendrick enough to scratch. After Kendrick accepted the job earlier this month, the Lowndes County School Board approved the hiring of Kendrick as Caledonia High School's new coach.
The coaching dominoes continue to fall at Columbus High School. Less than two weeks after Bubba Davis retired after two seasons as the school's head football coach, assistant football coach Grady McCluskey has accepted the job as head football coach at Ripley High. The South Tippah School Board approved McCluskey's hiring Thursday.
Philip Tice didn't intend this spring and summer to find another opportunity. But when you love baseball, chances to play the game will find you. As a result, Tice will continue his baseball career in a new state and with a program that has a knack for sending its players to the Division I level.
Four years of patrolling the paint for Mississippi State culminated in a dream come true for Jarvis Varnado on Thursday. The 6-foot-9 shot-blocking specialist realized a dream by being selected in the second round of the NBA Draft by the Miami Heat. The Heat, a playoff team a year ago, took Varnado with the 41st overall pick. The team didn't have a first-round selection.
Jeffrey Cook can focus today on baseball. That will be fine for the Columbus High School baseball coach, who spent Wednesday night hashing out a handful of brackets in anticipation of the Dizzy Dean High School World Series. When Cook gathered the 14- and 15-team brackets for Thursday's welcoming meeting for the annual event, they quickly became scrap paper.
STARKVILLE -- Freshman starters are rare in the Southeastern Conference. Interior defensive linemen have the worst odds of holding up to the physical quantum leap players must make to adapt.
DENVER -- Seth Smith is like any major leaguer that wants to play every game. But relegated to a reserve role with an occasional start, the objective of the Colorado Rockies' outfielder is to contribute whenever he's called upon The 27-year old Smith, who played at Ole Miss from 2002-04, has produced when given the chance to play as he's tied for the team lead in homers (10) and tied for second in RBIs (31).
Lee Boyd has had a heck of year. The New Hope native took over his alma mater's baseball team, reclaimed the district title, made it to the second round of the playoffs, and with his wife, Allison, welcomed his first child into the world. He's still relishing everything that happened to him one month after capping another solid year in Trojans baseball.
STARKVILLE -- R.J. Johnson's remarkable senior season started with a commitment to make up for his junior year. The Starkville High graduate had the size, athleticism, and arm strength to be one of the state's top players. He knew it, and his coaches saw that potential years before the Milwaukee Brewers selected him earlier this month in the 36th round of Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Freshmen are lucky to have an impact in a game, much less a season. But not every freshman is built the same way. Some surprise and become the team's best player. Meet Lauren Holifield.
Armed with two dominant pitchers, Tabitha Beard entered her fourth season in charge of New Hope High School fast-pitch softball looking to add a state title to the slow-pitch hardware the Lady Trojans have added since 2006.
STARKVILLE -- Everyone remembers the story of Robert Elliott's last-minute commitment to Mississippi State. The Okolona native and consensus top-10 running back in the 2007 recruiting class had pledged to attend the University of Mississippi before former MSU coach Sylvester Croom pulled off a late signing coup and encouraged Elliott to choose the Bulldogs over the Rebels, Florida State, Alabama, and Arkansas.
Brent Younger remained focused. While longtime teammates were deciding on schools nearly every month, Younger believed that years of training and work on the baseball field would pay off.
STARKVILLE -- Thursday's softball game between Starkville High and Starkville Academy featured teams in similar situations. Both are trying to break in a new starting pitcher and to replace starters who graduated in the spring.
Craig Shannon didn't have an idea Bubba Davis was retiring until a week ago. That's why Shannon wasn't taken aback Monday when Davis announced his retirement after two seasons as head football coach at Columbus High School.
2. Summers helps Rebels rally past Bulldogs COLLEGE SPORTS
3. MSU women move to 22-2 by routing Vanderbilt COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Bulldogs fight for results COLLEGE SPORTS
5. New Hope girls soccer hosts second-round playoff match Saturday HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS