STARKVILLE — Just one week away from opening day, Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen is anxious to see how his team takes shape. With a recruiting class ranked eighth-best in the nation by Baseball America, Cohen and his staff reeled in some of the best pitching prospects in hopes of shoring up the biggest weak spot of the Bulldogs’ 25-29 campaign in 2009. Cohen spoke at length about the new look of his team during a preseason press conference Thursday. Words like “exciting” and “potential” were used to describe the squad he’ll send out next Friday in the season-opener against Rhode Island.
STARKVILLE — Building on last year’s success, Al Schmidt and the Mississippi State track teams have seen immediate results on the recruiting trail. MSU’s men added another top-notch sprinter this week with the signing of Alabama prep sprinter James Harris. Harris won the open 400-meter event at the 2009 Junior Olympics and chose MSU over Texas A&M and LSU. MSU also added seven distance runners to the fold Wednesday, including Alabama Gatorade Cross Country Athlete of the Year Nathan Lewis, who won three state titles in his prep career.
Home-court advantage for the MHSAA North State tournament will be on the line tonight when the area's Class 6A and 5A girls and boys basketball teams take the court for their district tournament finals. In Class 6A, the Starkville High girls will take on South Panola at 6 p.m. in the District 4 final at Tupelo High. The Columbus High boys will face Starkville at 7:30 p.m. in the nightcap. In Class 5A, the New Hope High girls will take on West Point at 6 p.m. at Saltillo High. The New Hope boys will face Oxford at 7:30 p.m. in the second game.
CALEDONIA — Donquarius Mallard scored a team-high 25 points Thursday night to lead the Noxubee County boys basketball team to an 80-77 victory against Louisville in the MHSAA Class 4A, Region 4, District 4 tournament at Caledonia High School. The Tigers built a 44-28 halftime lead, survived a 29-16 third quarter by Louisville, and then held on in the fourth quarter to advance to the district title game at 8:30 tonight against Houston. The winner between Noxubee County and Houston will host a first-round Class 4A North State playoff game next week.
The Columbus High School baseball team First-Pitch Banquet has been rescheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the school’s cafeteria. Former Columbus High, Itawamba Community College, and Mississippi State football standout Tyson Lee will be the guest speaker. Inclement weather that is expected this weekend has forced the cancellation of the alumni game, which was to be played at 11 a.m. Saturday.
STARKVILLE — Back home after playing four of its past five games on the road, the Mississippi State men’s basketball team faces desperate times. During that span MSU (16-7, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) has lost four games — all on the road — ahead of a tip at 8 tonight against the University of Mississippi (17-6, 5-4) at Humphrey Coliseum.
STARKVILLE — Jackson Prep’s boys soccer team showed no signs of being an underdog Wednesday in its first-round Mississippi Association of Independent School’s playoff tie against No. 1 seed Starkville Academy, allowing just one shot on goal and dismantling the previously unbeaten Volunteers 5-0.
Sam Adams never intended to leave Caledonia High School in a rush. But when an opportunity came open last week to join his wife and children in Louisiana, he couldn’t say no.
Jessee Mims realized a goal Wednesday morning that had been more than five years in the making. Her dream blossomed in eighth grade when she started to play soccer. Not only did she fall in love with the sport, but her parents also took the sport.
STARKVILLE — Misty Flesher doesn’t like to sit still. She also doesn’t like to do nothing, so imagine her predicament when she encountered more pain in her shoulder at the start of the 2009 season and ultimately was forced to shut it down after only appearing in four games.
STARKVILLE — Now is the time for separation. Eleven years ago, the Mississippi State women’s basketball was 4-5 and right in the middle of the Southeastern Conference pack with five league games remaining.
Two girls basketball programs rich in tradition will meet at 7 tonight when the Sulligent Lady Blue Devils play host to Red Bay in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A Northwest Sub-Regional Tournament.
Russ Wallace respects any team that beats R.C. Hatch. R.C. Hatch has won 10 state championships, including consecutive championships from 2006-08.
A season ago, the Southeastern Conference had three teams make the men’s NCAA tournament. A stacked SEC East may change that this season. With Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt all ranked in the top 25 of the ESPN/USA Today and Associated Press polls, the East is in decent shape to send three, maybe more, to the tournament. The disparity between the East and West this season is glaring, as the East holds a 17-4 edge against West opponents this season. Plus, all of the SEC’s ranked teams are in the East.
STARKVILLE — Tysheka Grimes nearly returned to the lineup in style Sunday afternoon. After missing the past 10 games with a plantar fasciitis tear in her right foot, the senior guard/forward drained a 3-pointer with 33 seconds remaining in the first overtime against the University of Florida. The trey gave the Lady Bulldogs a 69-68 lead, only to see Florida’s Lonnika Thompson answer with a 3-pointer of her own. MSU’s Alexis Rack made two free throws with seven seconds left to play to help send the game to a second overtime, where Florida eventually outlasted the Lady Bulldogs 82-80.
For much of the season, April Sykes’ shooting has been as cold as the frigid and snowy weather in Piscataway, N.J. The 6-foot sophomore guard/forward on the Rutgers University women’s basketball team is shooting just 29 percent entering a home game tonight against Seton Hall. Sykes, a 2008 graduate of East Oktibbeha High School in Crawford, has struggled of late, making 1 of 5 shots against South Florida on Saturday and missing all 10 of her attempts the previous game against Notre Dame.
CALEDONIA — Turn it up. Faced with elimination and the end of their seasons Tuesday night, the Noxubee County High School basketball teams answered the call. The challenge Thursday will be to ratchet up their pressure defense and their execution another notch to prolong their seasons. Daquarius Mallard had a game-high 25 points to lead third-seeded Noxubee County to an 86-58 victory against sixth-seeded Caledonia in the MHSAA Class 4, Region 4, District 4 Tournament at Caledonia High School.
STARKVILLE — There isn’t much left for Starkville Academy’s soccer team to do this season besides hoisting the state championship trophy. At 10-0 and with a plus-47 goal differential this season, the Volunteers enter today’s Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA playoff tie against Jackson Prep (11-7) as favorites. The No. 1-seeded Vols have mowed through opponents and closed tight games this season, putting down more expectations to bring the program its first piece of hardware since the 2005 squad topped the then-MPSA ranks. The anticipation leading up to today’s 3 p.m. kickoff at the Starkville Sportsplex hasn’t rattled the team down the stretch. Artie Cosby’s squad is built around nine seniors, which is why he feels his team needs no talking to about avoiding a letdown.
TUPELO — The game plan didn’t change. The pregame speech didn’t change. The only thing that changed Tuesday night was the degree of discipline and the level of execution the Columbus High School boys basketball team delivered. As a result, the Falcons will live to play again. Bobby Wrench and Akeem Toppin scored 16 points each to lead Columbus to a 62-59 victory against Tupelo in the Class 6A, Division 2, District 4 tournament at Tupelo High School.
BENTON –– Taylor Baudoin scored a game-high 24 points and had 16 rebounds, five assists, and six steals Tuesday to lead the Immanuel Christian Lady Rams past Tri-County Academy 58-33 in the MAIS Class A North Central State Tournament. Immanuel (18-12) outscored Tri-County each quarter and led 14-10, 24-12, and 39-24 at the quarter breaks. Also for the Lady Rams, Bailey Edwards had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three steals, and Abby Good had eight points and seven rebounds.
1. MSU women beat No. 17 West Virginia COLLEGE SPORTS
2. 5 for Inside for Vanderbilt-Mississippi State COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Skinner's big shots pushes Starkville past West Point HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. MSU focused on Vanderbilt COLLEGE SPORTS
5. West Point gets second chance vs. Oxford HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS