Columbus High School didn't look far to find its next head football coach.
Monday's Southeastern Conference basketball coaches summer teleconference didn't yield much from Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury. Fresh off a weekend where news broke of Phil Turner's release from his scholarship and the differing accounts of the player's intentions for 2010-11, Stansbury shot down attempts to broach the topic once more.
Starkville High graduate and Dispatch Baseball Large Schools Player of the year R.J. Johnson confirmed he is now a professional player. The 6-foot-4 pitcher said he signed a contract with the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, and SHS head coach Danny Carlisle said Johnson will head to a Brewers minor league affiliate Wednesday in Arizona.
Neshoba Central turned a narrow second-inning lead into lights-out baseball Monday at Sammy Fletcher Field, topping Center Hill 9-4 to clinch the Dizzy Dean World Series championship. The Rockets, who topped Ridgeland and rival New Hope a day earlier, led 5-1 following a Terrance Steele two-RBI single and RBI hits from Robert Greer and Dustin Floyd.
One run was all that prevented West Point from playing in championship game of the Dizzy Dean High School World Series. West Point came up short in its bid to make it to today's championship game at Columbus High School's Sammy Fletcher Field by suffering a 5-4 setback to Center Hill in the semifinals. Center Hill will play for the championship at 6 p.m. today when it meets Neshoba Central.
STARKVILLE -- Phil Turner isn't sure why he won't be in a Mississippi State basketball uniform next season. Turner, an upcoming senior, confirmed Friday he has been released from his scholarship. He was notified through a letter mailed to his home. The guard from Grenada is unsure of his plans for the future after being released from his scholarship. He would have entered the 2010-11 season as the team's longest-tenured player, having been a member of the team since 2006-07.
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.
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