STARKVILLE -- When fall camp opened last season, Mississippi State wide receiver Michael Carr had no idea what was going on. He hadn't worked out with the team in summer while he finished academic work and awaited certification from the NCAA Clearinghouse.
After winning two games Saturday, New Hope High School softball coach Tabitha Beard thought her team was poised enough to make it a sweep in the nightcap at Propst Park. For three innings, New Hope was on cruise control with a 2-0 lead against Northeast Lauderdale and had allowed just two batters to reach base.
Whitney Kyles utilized a simple yet effective technique Saturday afternoon en route to the second win of her brief fast-pitch softball career: Just throw it. Aim for the catcher's glove. Kyles, who is more comfortable in her normal role as catcher, started the second game of Columbus High School's busy day at Propst Park, a 5-4 victory against Caledonia that was more than enough to impress coach Rusty Greene.
Columbus High School's baseball team needed a win in a major way. Losers of eight straight ball games, the Falcons entered Senior Night against Caledonia High with a senior making his first start of the season on the mound.
Justin Verner, a junior at Columbus High School, defended his Class 6A state powerlifting title Saturday in Jackson, winning the 242-pound division at Mississippi Coliseum.
Lee Boyd insists the gray hair is there. He tips his cap and, sure enough, there are a few specks of gray on the sides of his head. It remains to be seen just how much of that gray Boyd can blame on his New Hope High School baseball team.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State baseball's new weekend rotation will have its first go this weekend, and coach John Cohen isn't second-guessing the decision. The Bulldogs, coming off a 6-4 loss to the University of Alabama-Birmingham on Wednesday, will kick off a three-game Southeastern Conference series at 7 tonight at the University of Arkansas (24-8, 6-6 SEC).
This is where Vincent Sanders wants to be. Right here, in the University of Mississippi football team's huddle. Jogging to the line. Sprinting down field, reading the defense. Finding an opening near the sideline. His eyes following the football to his hands as he fights off double coverage to make a leaping grab, placing him one catch closer to becoming the consistent, big-play receiver the Rebels lacked one season earlier while he redshirted.
STARKVILLE -- Four boys and three girls from Starkville High School have powerlifting gold on their minds. At Saturday's Mississippi High School Activities Association State meet at the Mississippi Coliseum, two senior Lady Yellow Jackets will look to repeat first-place North State finishes, while Marcus Tate will try to capture his second straight gold medal after winning the 275-pound boys class at North State.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State men's tennis is back. With back-to-back wins against the University of Alabama and Auburn last weekend, MSU clinched the Southeastern Conference Western Division title, snapping the University of Mississippi's nine-year stranglehold on the division. Up until last weekend, MSU hadn't won a division or league title since 1996, when it won the SEC tournament.
Defending state champion Justin Verner dips his hands in a bucket of chalk to combat perspiration.
Anna Holley and Brandi Brantley break into big grins when asked to relate their favorite "moments" with New Hope High School softball coach Tabitha Beard.
STARKVILLE -- Mark Alexander is back in Starkville, and he has no plans to leave. The Mississippi State graduate and former sports reporter transitioned from working in journalism to coaching basketball five years ago and found instant success in Tennessee and at Manchester Academy in Yazoo City. On Wednesday, Starkville Academy announced Alexander as its new boys basketball coach effective at the end of the current school year.
STARKVILLE -- Linda Bell was anxious to organize efforts to honor her son's memory. The mother of Nick Bell, the late Mississippi State football player, Linda started the Nick Bell Mentoring Memorial Foundation at the beginning of the year to keep alive Nick's passion for education and mentoring. On Wednesday, Linda and her daughter, Monica, visited MSU and started a pair of scholarships through the school's Alumni Association.
The University of Alabama will add more history to campus on Saturday when a statue of Nick Saban is unveiled beside likenesses of other Crimson Tide football coaches who won national titles.
STARKVILLE -- The bats are alive and well. Throughout much of the Starkville High School baseball team's season, its offensive numbers have dipped and its effectiveness with runners in scoring position hasn't been up to a game-winning standard.
Senior Anna Holley made sure the New Hope High School fast-pitch softball team survived a slow offensive start Tuesday night. Holley had two hits and drove in three runs as New Hope sealed a Class 5A, Region 3 title with an 8-1 victory against West Point at Lady Trojan Field.
The Junior Sunbelt Classic will honor one of its founding fathers in June when former New Hope High School baseball coach Stacy Hester is inducted to the National Sunbelt Classic Hall of Fame.
OXFORD -- Less than a week ago after a particularly disappointing practice, Mississippi linebacker D.T. Shackelford was among the team's most outspoken players, pushing his teammates to raise their performance. The coaches weren't surprised. Houston Nutt called him one of the unquestioned team leaders. Defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix marveled at how a still relatively young player could command so much respect. But now that leadership almost certainly will be lost for the upcoming season. Shackelford, a 6-foot-1, 244-pound junior, has a torn ACL in his right knee and will be out six to eight months.
STARKVILLE -- Changes are on the horizon for the Mississippi State baseball team's pitching rotation. MSU coach John Cohen has been encouraged by the solid innings junior Nick Routt has provided since sliding into the Sunday role, but ultra-talented junior Devin Jones has faltered as the Friday starter in league play. Cohen said Monday he and his staff have discussed the possibility of bumping Routt to Saturday and current Saturday starter Chris Stratton to Friday. The moves are being contemplated in an effort to protect the bullpen, which is lauded as the strength of the team.
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