The beauty of the game of baseball is you will see something different every day if you watch enough games. The Starkville Academy and Heritage Academy baseball teams did their best Thursday night to ensure all the fans at Trip Carson Field doubled their pleasure and saw plenty of things they might never see again. At 11:08 p.m., more than six hours after the first pitch of game one, Cole Vaughan retired Jim Beasley on a fielder’s choice to help Heritage Academy earn a 12-10 victory in game two and salvage a split of their doubleheader.
HAMILTON — Kevin McCartney’s solo home run in the bottom of the first inning Thursday got the Hamilton High School baseball team off to a good start. The rest of the Lions did their part, too. McCartney’s fourth homer of the season was the first of 12 hits for Hamilton in its 11-1 victory against East Union in six innings. McCartney hit his home run to center field on the first pitch by Craig Bullock.
PONTOTOC –– The New Hope Trojans responded to playing without coach Stacy Hester on Thursday by beating Pontotoc 15-5 in five innings in game one of their best-of-three Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A second-round state playoff series. New Hope (21-9) played without Hester, who was suspended for three days by Lowndes County Superintendent Mike Halford and New Hope Principal Lynn Wright for unspecified reasons. Hester, who is in his 17th season as New Hope’s coach, was suspended after an alleged incident during the Trojans’ playoff game at Hernando this past Saturday.
CALEDONIA — Stephanie Gonzalez started pole vaulting in less than ideal circumstances. The then-Caledonia High School sophomore ran on grass and fell into a pole vault pit made up of mattresses. She probably still has the scrapes on her legs from the experience.
STARKVILLE — Cleveland Hudson is in his 30th year as Starkville High School’s boys track coach. The Yellow Jackets rewarded Hudson for his years of service last season by winning the Class 5A state championship. In his milestone year, the team would like nothing better than to win another title. Starkville senior sprinter Tavaris Tate appreciates the guidance and support Hudson has provided him in his track career.
A chance to play host to the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A, Area 11 Tournament will be on the line for the Lamar County High School softball team Monday when it plays Oakman.
Even though he was not in town to see it, Mississippi State Athletic Director Greg Byrne could not have been more proud of the turnout for Super Bulldog Weekend.
HAMILTON — Isaac Winders has given up basketball, at least for the next month.
STARKVILLE — Starkville High School baseball coach Danny Carlisle will see a familiar face in the opposing dugout tonight in his team’s first game of the Class 5A playoffs.
Whether it’s on the field or on the court, Devin and Demetrius Malone have made it a family affair at West Lowndes High School.
New Hope High School baseball coach Stacy Hester was suspended Wednesday for three days and will miss his team’s Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A second-round playoff series against Pontotoc.
STARKVILLE –– The Mississippi State athletic department has acknowledged its football program violated an NCAA bylaw April 10 when former coach Jackie Sherrill visited a spring football practice session. The school has self-reported the secondary violation of NCAA bylaw 220.127.116.11.1.4 regarding the use of outside consultants when Sherrill was seen working with Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen and the kickers to the Southeastern Conference. A letter was sent Tuesday by MSU Associate Athletic Director of Compliance Bracky Brett to SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.
Dan Mullen, Lane Kiffin, and Gene Chizik all have been assigned the same task. The men are in charge of returning three Southeastern Conference football teams to winning ways. Mississippi State, Auburn, and Tennessee all participated in and won bowl games in 2007, but failed in its quests to record winning seasons in 2008.
In her first season at Birmingham-Southern College, Tori Harris helped the softball program reach new heights. Birmingham-Southern ended its season Sunday with the best record in school history. Birmingham-Southern, ranked No. 17 nationally, swept a doubleheader from Hendrix College to finish the season 32-5 for an .865 winning percentage. Harris, a 2006 graduate of New Hope High School, contributed to that success as a junior pitcher and third baseman.
Hilton Gibson and the New Hope High School baseball team haven’t had a perfect season. Routine plays haven’t been made, pitchers have missed locations, and hitters haven’t delivered in clutch situations. In many ways, New Hope’s season hasn’t been any different than countless other teams across the nation. But what the Trojans haven’t done has made them stronger.
MABEN — Jermaine Liggins’ nickname doesn’t do him justice. Growing up, Liggins earned the moniker “half pint” because of his size. Liggins has matured into a senior leader for the East Webster High School baseball team, and the ping of the baseball off his bat sounds more like someone nicknamed “pint.” Liggins and classmates Blake Love and Reggie O’Briant are just three of the hard-hitting Wolverines who will lead the team Thursday into its best-of-three Class 1A playoff series against Bogue Chitto.
HAMILTON — One bad game was all the Hamilton High School fast-pitch softball team needed. A missed opportunity, an error, or a pitch in the wrong spot could have have ended the Lady Lions’ season too soon. But faced with the prospect of turning in their jerseys for the final time, Hamilton responded and appears to have rediscovered its rhythm. Hamilton (13-10) will try to keep its run going Thursday when it travels to Hatley for game one in the best-of-three series that will determine the Class 2A North Half state champion.
MABEN — A clean uniform just doesn’t feel right to Swayze Hollenhead. The East Webster High School fast-pitch softball standout considers it a badge of honor if she can soil her school colors with a dive to knock down a line drive or a slide into second base to beat a throw. If you have seen the sophomore third baseman play, you know she’s apt to have several layers of the infield on her uniform by the end of a game. Each day, though, Hollenhead washes that dirt from her clothes and returns to practice and games to do it all over again.
STEENS — A new football season has brought a new sense of excitement at Immanuel Christian School. The Immanuel players have two more reasons to look forward to the 2009 season: Shawn Gates and Daniel Merchant. Gates and Merchant took the field Tuesday looking to bring a new energy to the football program on its first day of spring workouts. Gates, 24, takes over for Billy Thomas as the football team’s new coach, while Merchant, who was an assistant football coach at the school last season, will work as defensive coordinator and special teams coach.
Clark Richey won’t realize his goal until June. But he will take another step toward it tonight when the Cotton States Baseball League unveils its four-team North Division at 4:45 p.m. today at the Magnolia Civic Center in New Albany.
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