STARKVILLE — The Mississippi State football team’s offense wasn’t spreading around much fun Saturday in its scrimmage. It is a sign the unit still has a long way to learn the new system of coach Dan Mullen. The offense had moments during a two-hour practice at the MSU practice fields, but the defense made the biggest statement.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State made sure it wasn’t going to lose a late-inning lead on Saturday afternoon. After blowing a 6-3 advantage in a 9-8 loss to Auburn on Friday night, the Bulldogs knew they had to handle a similar situation different in the second game of the series. MSU scored two insurance runs in the eighth inning and left-handed starting pitcher Nick Routt handled the rest as the Bulldogs beat Auburn 8-3 at Dudy Noble Field.
Ashley Jones had no idea she was going to win the state of Florida’s most prestigious basketball award. Five months ago, she didn’t even know if she would play basketball her senior season at Winter Park Lake Howell High School. But the Mississippi State women’s basketball signee recovered from a liver infection to become the school’s all-time leading scorer and to lead Winter Park (29-2) to the Class 5A state title, its first in school history. Jones’ performance this season helped her earn another honor. On Wednesday, Jones was chosen the Florida Dairy Farmers Miss Basketball winner. The award is voted on by state high school coaches and state sportswriters.
Dillon Hawkins and Austin Stovall gave their baseball teams exactly what they needed Saturday. Unfortunately, Caledonia High School was on the receiving ends of both efforts. In the afternoon, Hawkins threw a six-inning, one-hitter, and Philip Tice had three hits and two RBIs in New Hope’s 11-1 victory against Caledonia in a Class 4A, Region 4, District 4 game at Trojan Field. In the evening, Stovall survived a 12-hit attack and pitched a complete game to lead Columbus to a 13-7 victory.
DeShuni Sanders is ready. Some would argue the New Hope High School senior could play for the East Mississippi Community College softball team today. New Hope High coach Tabitha Beard would have something to say about that, especially with the state fast-pitch playoffs expected to start Monday. Sanders took the final step toward beginning a career at EMCC on Friday when she signed a national letter of intent to join the school’s softball program.
STARKVILLE — Players don’t have problems transferring from one program to another. So while Colby Moore might have changed states moving from Pickens Academy (Ala.) to Starkville Academy, his baseball skills weren’t affected. It didn’t take long for the infielder/pitcher to make his impact on the Volunteers’ program.
SCOOBA — Junior Noel is looking for some immediate assistance to help him bring the East Mississippi Community College men’s soccer program out of the “doldrums.” The EMCC coach found two players Friday who will help him accomplish that goal. Caledonia High School’s Taylor Chisolm and Starkville High’s Eduardo Fumo signed national letter of intents to join a program that went 1-12-1 last season in Noel’s second year as coach.
John Cohen and John Pawlowski are in new situations as head baseball coaches in the Southeastern Conference this season. Cohen already was an SEC coach at Kentucky, but he left and returned to his alma mater, Mississippi State, replacing Ron Polk, while Pawlowski took over for Tom Slater at Auburn. The Bulldogs and Tigers meet this weekend at Dudy Noble Field, and both programs are still trying to win on a consistent basis in the conference. The series takes place at 6:30 p.m. today, 2 p.m. Saturday, and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
STARKVILLE — Leon Berry experienced success as a wide receiver at East Mississippi Community College by reaching the second round of the junior college playoffs last season. He hopes that success rubs off on Mississippi State. “We’re going to try and turn this program around,” Berry said. Berry, one of the Bulldogs’ mid-term signees, is adjusting slowly to Division I-A football after being an All-American in junior college.
Alex Sherrod doesn’t want to settle for second place this year. One season after being the runner-up in his weight class at the Mississippi High School Activities Association State Powerlifting meet, Sherrod has his sights set Saturday on a championship. A stint with the Caledonia High School boys basketball team might have delayed his training, but he has regrouped and made significant progress and said he is ready to win a state title.
Now that the New Hope High School fast-pitch softball team has taken care of its Senior Night festivities, it can focus on adding another state title to the program’s list of accomplishments. New Hope (17-2) still has a game at 5 p.m. today against Neshoba Central, weather permitting, before it can focus on the state tournament. As of Friday morning, the Lady Trojans still didn’t know their opponent. New Hope coach Tabitha Beard said New Hope will play Lafayette County or Center Hill at 2 p.m. Saturday in the first two games of a best-of-three series.
Get the popcorn ready. Mississippi State’s Student Association and the school’s athletic department are planning a movie night April 16 on the new video board at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field.
STARKVILLE — One of the rewards for offensive line coach John Hevesy when he joined Dan Mullen’s football staff at Mississippi State was getting a chance to work with Derek Sherrod. While at Florida three years ago, Hevesy recruited the former Caledonia High School player for the Gators.
Dustin McWilliams likes to talk to himself on the mound. The West Lauderdale left-hander feels his verbal repartee helps keep him focused and prepared for any situation. That’s why a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the third inning Wednesday night didn’t faze him.
Haley Tutor isn’t ready to say goodbye to her senior teammates. That’s why she is going to do everything in her power to see that the New Hope High School fast-pitch softball team’s season ends, fittingly, with a state title. Tutor had a home run, two singles, and six RBIs Wednesday to lead New Hope to a 12-2 victory against West Point in a Class 4A-District 4 game at Lady Trojan Field.
Sports play a lot of roles in our society. Whether it’s basketball or soccer or baseball or football, to name just a few, sports bring communities together. They unite people of different backgrounds and ages behind a school or a team. Sports also bring people together at one location.
STARKVILLE –– Tuesday’s spring football practice at Mississippi State ended differently than the previous one. After the offense scored a touchdown to end a scrimmage Saturday, the defense made a statement Tuesday at the end of a three-hour practice. Linebacker Jamie Jones intercepted a pass from quarterback Chris Relf that caused the defense to celebrate much like the offense did Saturday.
When Ben Fleming signed a scholarship to play baseball at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Ga., he believed it was an opportunity to play for a championship. Fleming, a junior outfielder from Columbus, is halfway through his first season at Southern Polytechnic, and he still believes the team has a chance to win a title. Southern Polytechnic (29-4), of the Southern States Athletic Conference, is off to its best start in school history and is ranked No. 3 in the NAIA Coaches Top 25 poll.
Sometimes teams just want to play. Tom Velek and others involved in soccer in Columbus decided last year to do something about it. Their decision has grown into a full-fledged event this year. Velek and Columbus United Soccer will welcome more than 20 soccer teams and more than 200 players to town Friday and Saturday for the second annual Columbus Friends and Family Days at the Cook Fields.
The Lamar County softball tournament is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at South Lamar High School in Millport, Ala. But after a tragic car accident Monday took the life of South Lamar seventh-grader Madison Orr, South Lamar coach Tony Seals doesn’t know when the tournament will be played.
1. Pickle takes over as New Hope football coach HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Close games have helped New Hope girls find focus HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. MSU men hit unlucky 13 for second year in a row COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Rally helps send Ole Miss' Henderson out a winner COLLEGE SPORTS