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.
STARKVILLE — Football has always been in Jody Wright’s blood. From winning three state championships in his playing days at Pickens Academy to playing at Jacksonville State University in Alabama to coaching at Jacksonville and Mississippi State, Wright has always found a way to keep the game a part of his life.
There wasn’t a defining pop. A piercing pain didn’t course through the elbow. Instead, Blake Roberts saw a dispiriting loss in velocity on his fastball and control that signaled something wasn’t right.
CALEDONIA — Justine Jenkins won’t lie. The Caledonia High School standout wanted to play softball in college but she didn’t know if she was good enough. It wasn’t until Jenkins started to relax and to have fun on the softball field that her confidence blossomed.
STARKVILLE –– Saturday was like Christmas morning for Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen. By the end of a two-and-a-half hour spring workout, it began to feel a little that way with a cool front blowing through. Mullen was anxious to watch the film of what the Bulldogs had just done on the practice field so he could find out which players were ready to contribute.
Defensive lineman Pernell McPhee has looked like a man among boys the first three days of Mississippi State spring football practice. McPhee’s 6-4, 270-pound frame was impressive enough without pads, but when the Bulldogs put them on for the first time Saturday, he really had the appearance of a giant. The former Itawamba Community College player, from Pahokee, Fla., could probably play in the National Football League right now. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen is glad to have him on his side, even if it’s only for two seasons.
STARKVILLE –– The Starkville Yellow Jackets experienced another walk-off victory at home on Saturday afternoon. For the New Hope Trojans, it was a another disappointing loss. After Blake Dawkins singled in the winning run last Tuesday to help Starkville defeat Tupelo 3-2, it was R.J. Johnson’s turn to do the same. This time the game-winning hit came in the 10th inning as Starkville beat New Hope 2-1.
Bad things aren’t happening once a game this season for the Columbus High School baseball team. In some cases, like in Columbus’ 16-6 victory against West Point in five innings Saturday afternoon, the Falcons make enough positive things happen to outweigh the negatives. But the momentum doesn’t last. In other instances, like in a 12-2 loss in five innings to South Panola on Saturday night, the Falcons can’t overcome mistakes that seem to snowball out of control.
STARKVILLE –– Starkville High School wide receiver Kasey Akins played the waiting game to make sure he found the right place for him to continue his football career. More than a month after watching two of his teammates sign scholarships on National Signing Day, Akins has made his choice. Akins decided to take his talents to Harding University in Searcy, Ark., and made it official on Friday by putting his name on the dotted line.
3. Heritage Academy softball will try to take next step HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Mixed reaction to decision to move MHSAA football title games HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS