ACKERMAN -- The Hamilton Lions survived a late scare from Ackerman to post a 9-8 win Saturday and advance in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 2A playoffs. Hamilton (20-3) dethroned the defending state champions by building a 7-2 lead in the fourth inning and holding on through a furious rally that saw the desperate Indians plate four runs in the sixth inning. Relief pitcher Chase Reeves rebounded from the shaky sixth by striking out three batters in the final inning.
Five innings wasn't enough for Olivia Ladner. While some pitchers would have taken the opportunity to rest after a six-run inning created an eight-run deficit for her team, Ladner preferred to finish what she started. That final deficit in Game 2 changed only slightly, which allowed the New Hope High School fast-pitch softball team to force a third game 20 minutes later. The break apparently worked wonders for Ladner.
HAMILTON -- The Hamilton High School fast pitch softball team learned a valuable lesson here Saturday afternoon -- when you live by the sword, sometimes you also die by the sword. Last week, the Lady Lions switched to a "small ball" strategy en route to a 7-3 win against East Union in the second and deciding game of their best-of-three series with the Lady Urchins in the opening round of the MHSAA Class 2A playoffs.
Junior Noel was stunned. For the past two seasons, Noel worked to make the East Mississippi Community College men's and women's soccer programs respectable. The results weren't eye-popping, but Noel and those in the area who follow soccer believe EMCC was improving. That progress was put on hold earlier this week when the EMCC Board of Trustees voted to suspend the men's and women's soccer programs for one season.
STARKVILLE -- Scott Stricklin's introduction as Mississippi State's 16th athletics director had the feeling of a family reunion or and Easter Sunday gathering. With Stricklin's family and friends gathered together Friday, the Mississippi State alum and employee spoke for the first time in a position he called "his dream job."
If Junior Noel was stunned to learn the East Mississippi Community College soccer programs he coached were going to be suspended, imagine the surprise of the freshmen on the teams when they heard the news. Former Starkville High School forward Eduardo Fumo, who was a freshman on the EMCC men's soccer team in the fall, said he first learned of the school's decision to suspend the men's and women's soccer programs in a phone call from Brian Bennett, his former coach at Starkville High.
The East Mississippi Community College Board of Trustees' decision Monday to suspend the school's men's and women's soccer programs has surprised and confused many coaches and followers of the teams. The surprise is understandable given that EMCC coach Junior Noel, who coached the men's team for the past three years and the women's team the past two years, had no idea a move like that was going to be made until Tuesday morning, when he also was informed his contract would not be renewed.
Scott Stricklin's introduction as Mississippi State University's 16th athletics director had the feeling of a family reunion or an Easter Sunday gathering.
It's not a good time to be a rookie trying to earn a roster spot in the WNBA.
Former Mississippi State women's basketball standout Armelie Lumanu has learned that fact, and former teammates Chanel Mokango and Alexis Rack hope they don't suffer the same fate.
But Boris Lelchitski, the agent for all three players, said Mokango (with the Atlanta Dream) and Rack (with the San Antonio Silver Stars) are doing well and remain in competition for roster spots.
HAMILTON -- Support comes in all varieties.
In baseball, teammates can back their pitchers with solid defense, timely hitting, and a selfless approach.
The Hamilton High School baseball team is fortunate because it has five seniors who provide that support in every facet of the game.
Left-handed pitcher Dylan Earnest and outfielder Kevin McCartney probably are the two of Hamilton's most recognized players, but designated hitter Devin Hopper, shortstop Nathan Cockerham, and outfielder Cole Johnson have played integral roles in the Lions' success this season.
Survive and advance.
It sounds simple, but nothing is easy in high school athletics.
Even the most "outmanned" teams can give an opponent a test to remember.
Neshoba Central reminded the New Hope High School baseball team of that fact in the first round. The Rockets used stingy pitching and stout defense to stretch the Division 2, District 1 champions to three games before Blake Roberts' complete-game effort pushed the Trojans to the second round.
EUPORA -- Ten runs usually is enough for any fast-pitch softball team to win comfortably.
The way the Hamilton High School Lady Lions have been playing, scoring double-digit runs virtually guarantees a victory.
"If you would have told me we were going to score 10 runs I would have thought we would have won," Hamilton coach Jason Cobb said.
But funny things happen at playoff time.
Tony Montgomery loves East Mississippi Community College.
The former New Hope High School baseball standout played the sport at EMCC, spent eight years as an assistant baseball coach to head coach Bill Baldner, and the past four seasons as the Lions' head baseball coach.
Montgomery doesn't know why, but he said there is something about Scooba he enjoys.
STARKVILLE -- A familiar season-ending situation faces the Mississippi State softball team this weekend against national championship favorite Alabama.
Mississippi State (26-26, 7-15 Southeastern Conference) hopes to force its way into the SEC and NCAA tournaments, but can't afford repeat of last weekend's doubleheader loss to Florida.
Tournament scenarios for the SEC include MSU having to finish better than Ole Miss and Auburn, both of which are vying for the eighth and final spot. MSU holds the tiebreaker against Auburn, while Ole Miss holds the tiebreaker against MSU. However, Auburn is a half-game ahead of MSU entering the weekend.
Mississippi State will introduce Scott Stricklin as its 16th director of athletics at 2 p.m. today, capping the university's month-and-a-half long search to replace Greg Byrne.
Anna Holley does everything at game speed.
Whether she's hustling to second base to take infield grounders or she's catching her pitcher and popping the ball back to the circle, Holley helps set the tone for the New Hope High School fast-pitch softball team.
HAMILTON -- The pieces usually come together at this time of the season for the Hamilton High School fast-pitch softball team.
Led by seniors Katie Beth Dahlem, Lyndsey Williams, Shelby Savage, and Chauncia Willis, the Lady Lions are focused on adding another title to the slow-pitch crown they won in the fall.
Two pitchers have helped the South Lamar High School softball team keep opponents off stride at the plate.
The Lady Stallions hope the trend continues when they play in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class A North-Central Regional Tournament.
Reclassification meant opportunity for the Noxubee County High School boys track and field team.
Coach Tyrone Shorter knew the Mississippi High School Activities Association's decision to add a sixth classification and the subsequent moves of Oxford and Pearl high schools from Class 4A to Class 5A would favor his program.
WEST POINT -- A program six years in the making finalized its first recruiting class Wednesday as East Mississippi Community College signed nine area student-athletes to rodeo scholarships.
When EMCC President Dr. Rick Young started in 2004, he envisioned a scholarship-based rodeo program that would lead to an equestrian program.
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