Anna McCrary thought her coach was crazy. Sure, she slugged a pitch to the bottom of the fence for an easy extra-base hit, but McCrary didn't think she was quick enough to make it home for an inside-the-park home run. Tabitha Beard thought differently.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State football fans will never know how good of a running back Montrell Conner could have been. At least in maroon and white. The redshirt freshman's sudden departure and transfer to Copiah-Lincoln Community College leaves a small, but fillable void in the backfield just three weeks from the Bulldogs' season opener. Citing having a two-year-old son in his hometown of Monroe, La., and feeling unhappy at MSU, Conner leaves Robert Elliott, Vick Ballard, LaDarius Perkins, Nick Griffin and Adrian Marcus to split reps.
FULTON -- Jon Williams willingness to fire himself shows he has bought into a fresh start at Itawamba Community College. Williams' decision to relieve himself of his duties as offensive line coach was difficult, but the new ICC football coach realized when he replaced Jeff Terrill things needed to change. So the 15-year veteran coach gave up his love and has taken on the responsibilities as the team's new coach of the running backs.
STARKVILLE -- The New Hope High School football team showed last season it can win close games. The Trojans won rain-slogged efforts at Saltillo and at Clarksdale and equally tight games against Hernando and Indianola Gentry en route to a second-place finish in Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A, Region 1. Things were even better in the playoffs.
STARKVILLE -- New year, same old story for the West Point High School football team. Led by a 77-yard rushing effort from senior quarterback Justin Cox, West Point grinded it out for 251 yards Saturday en route t a 35-0 victory against Itawamba Agricultural High at the Fall Football Jamboree at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium. The rushing total was even more impressive considering the Green Wave, the defending Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A state champion, did in only two quarters of varsity action. Eight players had a chance to tote the ball, led by Cox and LaKenderic Thomas, who added 55 yards.
STARKVILLE -- Out of all the teams at the New Hope Fall jamboree, Starkville High School left the biggest stamp on Scott Field. Against three top offensive linemen recruits on a team that went 8-4 last season, the Yellow Jackets looked the like the polished, veteran team by beating Callaway 21-0 on Saturday. As for that vaunted Callaway offensive line? Just 31 rushing yards to show at the end of the two-quarter game.
STARKVILLE -- Montrell Conner, despite an Internet rumor Thursday, is still a member of the Mississippi State football team, coach Dan Mullen confirmed Thursday.
STARKVILLE -- Jamie Mitchell's Starkville High School football team has gotten mentally and physically tougher, but he will find out just how much progress his squad has made when it faces Jackson Callaway on Saturday at the New Hope High jamboree at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium.
STARKVILLE -- The Robert Gardner era at Starkville Academy kicked off Thursday with an 11-0 rout of Washington School. The first-year Lady Volunteers' coach watched his side score seven goals in the first half and hold Washington to just one shot on goal in its season opener at the Starkville Sportsplex.
MERIDIAN -- Taylor Baudoin had three goals and an assist Thursday to lead the Immanuel Christian girls soccer team to a 6-1 victory against Russell Christian in its season opener.
STARKVILLE -- Possibly the most tightly-contested position on Mississippi State's football team this preseason is at kicker, where two seniors with a lot in common are trying to gain an edge for the No. 1 job. Derek DePasquale and Sean Brauchle are junior college transfers who each started six games last season and experienced success. Their similarities don't stop there. Both were perfect on extra points and were close in accuracy as DePasquale missed two field goals to Brauchle's three. Neither recorded a touchback, and their respective season-long field goals are separated by just a yard.
MACON -- The Central Academy fast-pitch softball team scored two runs in the first inning and three more in the second Tuesday en route to a 6-0 victory against Oak Hill Academy. Paige Buchanan went the distance in the pitching circle and was the winning pitcher for Central. The leading hitters for Central Academy were Megan Banks with a double and single, Kendall Taylor with a double, and Blake Rigdon with a single.
There is something to be said for a high school football team playing host to a 10-team jamboree at its school. It's another thing when that team gets a chance to play host to the event at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field.
CALEDONIA -- Marlana Dolan has to be ready for anything. As a setter, she would love to receive perfect passes so she has time to set up and to pick her hitters to help them deliver kills for the Caledonia High School volleyball team. But any setter knows that is a dream that is rarely realized.
STEENS -- The prospect of not having any seniors would scare some coaches and players. But Ray Campbell and his Immanuel Christian girls soccer team are looking forward to the challenge of building with youth.
STARKVILLE -- The only changes made to Mississippi State's coaching staff after Dan Mullen's first year at the helm came on the defensive side of the ball and it's had an effect on all three levels. Manny Diaz left Middle Tennessee State and Chris Wilson left the University of Oklahoma and joined MSU to help retool a young defense that flashed just as much big-play potential as big plays given up. Diaz and Wilson have a spring practice under their belts as they co-coordinate the defense. In addition, Diaz coaches the linebackers and Wilson tutors the defensive line in a system run by some NFL teams.
Rachel Hollivay already is one of the best girls basketball players in the Class of 2012. Ranked in the top 10 by nearly every national recruiting service, the Heritage Academy junior has attracted interest from coaches from all over the country. But Hollivay did something last week that made all of the scouts and coaches take notice.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville Academy and Central Academy posted the only victories Saturday by local teams at the Starkville Academy tournament at the Mississippi State Recreation Complex. Oak Hill and Heritage Academy lost both of their games in the tournament. Starkville Academy opened the day with a 6-4 victory against Central Academy, but it lost its next two games to Leake Academy (2-1) and to Pillow Academy and was ousted from the double-elimination event.
STARKVILLE -- As Starkville Academy's third head coach in the last three seasons, Robert Gardner has the attacking tools to make the Lady Volunteers a postseason threat. But will defense and youth be too much to overcome? One year removed from a Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA playoff berth, the Lady Volunteers are unsettled on who'll man the back line. Also, the team has just one senior (Shelby Carpenter), and no juniors.
1. MSU women will face biggest test at South Carolina COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Columbus boys advance in Class 6A tournament HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Defense has been strong suit for MSU men COLLEGE SPORTS
5. New Hope boys win home finale HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS