Brandi Brantley knows she doesn’t hit the middle of the softball every at-bat. But the junior first baseman/pitcher has come a long way since last season when she only played defense on the New Hope High School slow-pitch softball team’s run to another state title. This year, Brantley has hit her way into the lineup — as cleanup hitter — and hopes to help the Lady Trojans add a 12th state crown to their resume.
CALEDONIA — Caledonia High School volleyball coach Samantha Brooks came to the school three years ago and got attached to a group of sophomores. When the Lady Confederates saw their season come to an end Thursday night in the second round of the Mississippi High School Association Class I State tournament, Brooks had a right to be a little emotional. Brooks hated to see the careers of seniors Shaina Cruse, Kori Hankins, Stephanie Hopper, Whitney Pounders, Sunnie Rushing, and Kara Von Kanel end in a 3-1 loss to Lafayette, but Brooks was proud they went out after a run deep into the playoffs.
Senior leadership is particularly valuable when you’re not sure if your team is going to have a coach. That’s the situation seniors Erin Williams, Caitlin Osterman, Kathryn Scarbrough, Sarah Simpson, Heather Wells, and newcomer Nicky Croft faced in August as they faced the start of another season. The seniors did their best to keep everyone working and focused on the start of the season until Dale Latham was chosen as a volunteer coach to replace David Johnson.
Buddy Stephens is lucky. The East Mississippi Community College football coach has a All-America quarterback (Randall Mackey) and a running back with Division I potential (former Starkville High standout Pat Shed). But as well as those two have played this season, they are just two pieces to a puzzle that is coming together for the Lions. When Stephens factors in a talented cast of receivers, led by Bill Franks and Stephon Johnson, and an equally skilled and experienced offensive line, it’s easy to see why the Lions are 5-1 and 3-0 in the MACJC.
STURGIS — Former football standout Stan Malone remembers his two North Division title seasons at East Mississippi Junior College. But he also remembers having fun on campus. “We lived in The Alamo, a dorm that was named because it resembled the fort,” Malone said. “One night, we caught an opossum and put it in the bed with a guy. We had some good times.” But Malone better remembers the college now known as East Mississippi Community College in Scooba as the place he developed his leadership skills and played outstanding football.
SCOOBA — East Mississippi Community College will induct 10 new members into the EMCC Sports Hall of Fame tonight at a reception and banquet as part of its 2009 Homecoming weekend. This year’s inductees also will be recognized Saturday afternoon in pregame ceremonies prior to the EMCC’s homecoming football game against Northeast Community College. Included posthumously in this year’s class is former S.D. Lee High three -sport athlete Larry “Rock” Cohen.
STARKVILLE –– Brandon Cooper can’t help but think back to his high school days when he visited Mississippi State strength coach Matt Balis. While at Fort Bend Marshall High School in Missouri City, Texas, Cooper participated at the University of Houston combine and bench pressed 275 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds. Cooper, a junior defensive lineman at MSU, is anxious to show the University of Houston what it missed by not seriously recruiting him when the teams meet at 11:30 a.m. Saturday (ESPNU).
Tonight or Friday doesn’t matter to Columbus High School football coach Bubba Davis. Either way, the Falcons were going to have to be ready to play state power South Panola, so why not take care of it one day earlier. “My feeling is that we will play them right now,” Davis said Wednesday morning.
It’s not the passing attempts, pass completions, yards, or touchdowns passes that mean the most to University of Houston quarterback Case Keenum. When the game is over, the only numbers that concern Keenum are the ones on the scoreboard.
It’s all about the attitude for the Caledonia High School volleyball team. Defending a 30-foot section of court with six players doesn’t sound like a difficult proposition. But if the players don’t know the details that go into playing each position it’s likely they won’t be able to work as a unit.
Bowl season doesn’t begin for another two months. But the past four weeks have lasted just as long for Chris Hamm and his Victory Christian football team.
Scott Marchant has the Pickens County High School football team in contention for a region championship in his first season as head coach. Pickens County can take a step toward winning the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A, Region 4 championship Friday night when it plays host to American Christian Academy.
ABERDEEN –– In a perfect world, the third time is always the charm. Too, in a perfect world, a resounding 25-10 first-set triumph on your home court should be enough to kick-start your team to a straight-set win. And again, in a perfect world, a 2-1 set advantage and holding serve with a 24-22 lead in the fourth and what should be the deciding set should be a good indication your team had a better than even chance of advancing to the Class I North Half finals.
Streaks are part of Northeast Mississippi’s football history. But before South Panola High School football team claimed the honor of holding the state’s longest winning streak, that honor belonged to coach Jimmie Moore’s Hamilton Lions. Moore’s Lions, who accomplished the unbelievable feat of going through the 1977 season without allowing a point, went on two years later to start a winning streak that stretched to 51 games until Oct. 7, 1983, when coach Rudy Pope’s New Hope High Trojans ended the run with a 35-14 victory in Columbus.
Throughout high school, Amber Owen heard she’d never play college volleyball. At 4-foot-11 1/2, Owen was relegated to playing on the junior varsity volleyball team at Caledonia High School and it looked like college volleyball wouldn’t be in her future. “It hurt a lot because I knew I had the potential and I had the ability to play and I wasn’t really given that chance,” Owen said. “I was looking for a small (college) so I could play volleyball, or at least try, because everybody told me I would never play college volleyball.”
STARKVILLE — Anthony Dixon is about to become Mississippi State’s all-time leading rusher. The journey to that top spot has been bumpy. In the offseason, the senior tailback was arrested for DUI. He fulfilled unspecified punishment from the team and served a one-game suspension in the season opener against Jackson State. Now, Dixon has to bounce back from a game where he fumbled twice in a 42-31 loss to Georgia Tech.
Due to expected bad weather in the area, the Columbus High School football team’s game against South Panola has been moved to 7 p.m. Thursday at Falcon Field.
STARKVILLE — The rhythm of the Famous Maroon Band’s drum section doesn’t catch the attention of Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen most on game day. When Mullen talks about rhythm he’s referring to the offense, especially early in games.
REFORM, Ala. — Scott Marchant has a dilemma. The Pickens County High School football coach has a talented quarterback to direct his team’s high-powered passing offense. The former defensive coordinator also has an athlete versatile enough to play a hybrid safety-linebacker position. Problem is, that player is Deion Curry.
1. Defense delivers dominating effort for MSU COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Starkville rolls past Oxford HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Defense answers call for Noxubee County HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Hughes returns for Bulldogs in style COLLEGE SPORTS
5. New Hope takes advantage of uninspired Aberdeen HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS