Yandell Harris wasn't thinking about coaching basketball three weeks ago.
STARKVILLE - When the season started, the Mississippi State softball team knew the importance of the middle two weeks of April. The Bulldogs have an eight-game stretch of games against teams in the Ratings Percentage Index Top 28, with seven of those being against the Top 13. With an RPI of 22, MSU is looking for a late push to secure a high seed in an NCAA regional with the outside hope of hosting a regional.
Zaria Jenkins was scared. Jay Jay Swanigan was nervous.
STARKVILLE - When workouts began prior to this basketball season, Starkville High School senior Kayla Minor listed one of her goals as helping her team advance to the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A State Tournament in Jackson. Turns out, Minor returned in time to help that goal become a reality.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State pitcher Lucas Laster noticed a difference the moment he picked up the new flat-seam baseball.
Infectious is a great way to describe La'Quesha Clemons' game. At 6-foot, Clemons wasn't always the tallest player on the court. The West Lowndes High School senior forward also didn't have the usual girth to bang bodies with other post players in the paint. But Clemons never let what she didn't have slow her down. Instead, she approached every minute on the basketball court as a challenge and a chance to let her love for the game shine in her performance. Although she might not have realized it, Clemons' energy and enthusiasm for the sport rubbed off on her teammates and helped push them to bigger things. On Wednesday, Clemons' high-energy style of play paid dividends for her, as she signed a letter of intent to play basketball at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba.
Neal Hanley used to run in the Frostbite Half Marathon in Starkville, so he is well accustomed to all of the activities available to Golden Triangle residents. Hanley also used to be an early morning running partner of Brad Atkins when he lived in Columbus. Hanley fondly remembers the five- to seven-mile runs he and Atkins used to do probably three times a week about a year ago.
STARKVILLE -- The margin of error is gone for the Mississippi State baseball team. After losing 14 of its last 22 games, MSU is on the outside looking in for an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament after losing three of its first four Southeastern Conference series. It only gets tougher from here. Starting at 6:35 p.m. Friday, MSU (21-14, 5-7 SEC) will face No. 2 Texas A&M (31-2, 9-2) in Game 1 of a three-game series in College Station, Texas. The series will be the Bulldogs' first of three in the next four weekends against ranked teams. The Aggies are ranked No. 1 in the Collegiate Baseball and USA Today polls. They are No. 2 in the Baseball America rankings.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State softball coach Vann Stuedeman told her team to treat Wednesday night's midweek game against No. 1 LSU just like any other midweek game. Then she told her standout pitcher something different. The non-conference game between Southeastern Conference rivals was designed to enhance both teams' Ratings Percentage Indexes (RPI) and postseason hopes, but MSU got the most mileage out of the game thanks to a 9-4 upset before a standing-room only crowd at the MSU Softball Field.
STARKVILLE -- It's called the Ricketts Effect. When Samantha Ricketts was hired as an assistant coach and hitting instructor in the offseason, her task was to rejuvenate the Mississippi State softball team's offense. Ricketts was hired to produce performances like Wednesday night, when MSU had 11 hits and dominated two of the Southeastern Conference's best pitchers in a 9-4 victory against No. 1 LSU in a non-conference game before a capacity crowd of 902 at the MSU Softball Field.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Avery Johnson envisions leading the Alabama men's basketball deeper into the NCAA tournament than it has been and ambitiously chooses five-time national champion Duke as his model program. Johnson, who was introduced as the Crimson Tide's coach Wednesday, fully embraces the prospect of coaching at a school which boasts arguably college football's equivalent of Duke hoops. He met with football coach Nick Saban -- Alabama's version of Coach K -- for about 30 minutes before taking the podium.
STARKVILLE -- For the Mississippi State softball team, this is not your ordinary midweek game.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Geno Auriemma and his UConn Huskies are a perfect 10.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Mississippi State still couldn't break away from the midweek doldrums Tuesday night.
WEST POINT - Home is where the heart is.
STARKVILLE - Starkville Academy junior outfielder Colt Chrestman sensed his baseball team could be special long before it ever played a game this season.
STARKVILLE -- Aeris Williams found the hole, turned upfield, and saw two defenders in his way. Like he had done on numerous occasions, Williams didn't hesitate and crashed into the linebackers, driving them 6 yards past the point of contact and turning an innocent run into a 9-yard gain. To prove it wasn't an aberration, Williams got up and did it again.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- In front of a national television audience, the Mississippi State softball team used a 12-hit attack to beat Arkansas 16-4 in six innings Monday night at Bogle Park. The victory helped MSU (29-10, 8-7 Southeastern Conference) earn its first SEC series sweep and its second series win in the league. The win also helped MSU move over .500 in SEC play at the latest date in the season since it was 10-8 following a win against Auburn in Game 1 of a three-game series on April 13, 2002.
1. Getting to the point: Newman buys into Howland's plan COLLEGE SPORTS
2. MSU's Alwal signs contract with WNBA's Atlanta Dream COLLEGE SPORTS
3. New Hope baseball advances in playoffs HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Prep Softball: Caledonia advances in playoffs HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. MSU's Smith anticipates draft call COLLEGE SPORTS