STARKVILLE — Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen hates to see the last week of two-a-day practice sessions end. Mullen liked the home-away-from-home setting at the intramural fields across campus and wished he had more time there. “The players came out and battled,” Mullen said. “They came out with the right attitude. There were really hard practices Saturday.” With the start of classes Monday, the Bulldogs will return to the team practice fields Tuesday. The team is scheduled to hold meetings, to have brunch, to visit the team chapel, to watch film and to lift weights today.
STARKVILLE — The Starkville High School football team showed its fans Thursday night what it can do in a one-hour scrimmage. The scrimmage was part of “Meet the Players Night,” and Starkville High football coach Bill Lee was careful not to show too much because Noxubee County coach M.C. Miller was one of several coaches at the game. The Yellow Jackets will take on the defending Class 4A state champions Aug. 21 in Macon.
The New Hope High School slow-pitch softball team is going to have a little bit of everything this season. The Lady Trojans are young and inexperienced at several positions. Coach Tabitha Beard’s team also has an assortment of “older” players who have been with the program for two to three years and who are used to advancing deep into the playoffs and competing for state titles. Last season was no exception.
FULTON — Evan Lackey wants to help the Itawamba Community College football team get back to the playoffs. One year after playing at ICC, Anthony Lackey, Evan’s brother, wants to help his new team at Kentucky Wesleyan reach the same goal. Evan Lackey will begin that journey at 5 p.m. today when ICC plays Copiah-Lincoln in a scrimmage at Lambert Stadium. The game action will be the first for the former Amory High School standout, who has impressed the coaches in the past few months.
STARKVILLE — Nothing Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen saw Thursday in the team’s first full scrimmage of the season gave one quarterback an edge. After observing the two-hour scrimmage, Mullen said senior Tyson Lee, of Columbus, and sophomore Chris Relf are “dead even.” Mullen went on to say it probably would be a three-man race if freshman Tyler Russell had enrolled at MSU in January and would have participated in spring practice.
STARKVILLE — A year ago, Lyndsey Haynes was trying to find her groove. A torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee forced her to wear a brace that affected her delivery. The injury also left the right-handed pitcher on the Starkville Academy fastpitch softball team wondering whether she would regain her form. But last weekend Haynes showed she has found her groove again.
STARKVILLE –– Mississippi State entered the second week of preseason football practice Monday and none of the players are confident enough to say they have earned a starting position. Senior quarterback Tyson Lee, of Columbus, said there’s competition at every position, which is just the way coach Dan Mullen wants it. “It’s wide open on offense and defense,” Lee said. “Coach continues to stress that. Whoever wants the job, that’s who he is going to give it to.”
STARKVILLE -- Before wrapping her arm in ice after pitching four games on Saturday, Starkville Academy’s Lyndsey Haynes got to wrap her hands on a championship trophy. The Lady Volunteers remained in the winner’s bracket throughout and won the Starkville Invitational Tournament for the first time. The event was held at the Mississippi State Recreation Complex. Starkville Academy (8-1) defeated Winston Academy 6-3, Central Academy 8-7 and Pillow Academy 8-0 and 5-4 in eight innings to claim the title.
STARKVILLE — Jenny Hazelwood’s excitement is contagious. It took only one hour in the team’s first meeting Thursday for the new Mississippi State volleyball coach to get her players fired up. That energy carried over to the court Friday when the team opened its preseason with a pair of practices. “She is 100 percent invested in our program,” senior setter Dorey Gray said Friday. “She is so good at inspiring us and knowing when to say the right things to us.”
STARKVILLE — The Humphrey Coliseum at Mississippi State is going through some changes. In the past few weeks, new lighting has been installed and upgraded in the arena and a new arrangement of banners has been put in place. Renovations to the women’s basketball locker room recently were completed, and the men’s locker room is being refurbished. The installation of a new basketball court with new MSU marks and logos is another piece of the athletic department’s $2.1 million investment to enhance all of the facilities on campus.
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State opened two-a-day football practices on Saturday with a two-hour session in the morning and a shorter workout in the afternoon. The Bulldogs have changed locations from the football practice fields to the intramural field where they could be alone. Well, almost. “We’re in training camp now and it’s a work-oriented location,” Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen said. “We’re away from the fans and the media. When we got out there, it was just us and the cows. The cows were up on a hill in the next field over. They were out early. We might have to get up and go earlier (today) so we can beat the cows out to work.”
STARKVILLE -- Derek Sherrod has always had a family member available to encourage him at Mississippi State. He just didn’t always realize it. One of the reasons Sherrod chose to play at Mississippi State was because his older brother, Dezmond, was already there as a tight end in Sylvester Croom’s West Coast offense. After Dezmond graduated and signed a free agent contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Derek missed having a family member around. That’s until Sherrod found out he had a cousin also with the Bulldogs in Tobias Smith.
WEST POINT –– The Heritage Academy Lady Patriots had a run taken off the scoreboard Thursday afternoon, but didn’t need it to claim a 5-3 victory against Oak Hill Academy. The Lady Patriots (2-1) scored three runs in the second inning and would have scored four if one hadn’t been taken away. The Lady Patriots thought they tied the score 2-2 in the second when Logan Waggoner crossed the plate on a fielder’s choice and the home plate umpire extended his arms to signal safe.
STARKVILLE –– The girls who make up the Starkville Academy soccer team weren’t born when Artie Cosby was a record-breaking kicker at Mississippi State. All they know is he one day he could lead them to a championship. Cosby takes over the reins as soccer coach at Starkville Academy, and he’s enjoyed preparing for the season.
The championship feeling still lingers in Krisi Boren’s mind. A year ago, the Heritage Academy girls soccer team had a season to remember, falling to River Oaks (Monroe, La.) in its first appearance in a Mississippi Private School Association (now MAIS) state title match. The landscape will be different this season for the Lady Patriots. Heritage Academy, which finished 11-4 last season, will move from Division II to Division I this season. The transition means tougher divisional games against the likes of Starkville Academy, Pillow Academy,Washington School, and Magnolia Heights.
STARKVILLE — The intensity seemed to rise with the temperatures Thursday morning at the Mississippi State football practice fields. The Bulldogs seemed to take things a little more seriously in their second day in pads. “They came out better than (Wednesday),” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. “They weren’t really used to being in pads, but this was what we expect our normal practices to look like.”
Josh Carothers and Kendall Jackson have learned to trust Sammy Smith. The Columbus High School boys basketball players believed their coach when he said he would do his best to find them a college where they could continue their careers. The only thing Smith asked his players to do was to stay patient and to believe. The wait ended Wednesday afternoon.
STARKVILLE — Jenny Hazelwood knows how to surprise people. In coaching stops at Centenary College (La.) and at Austin Peay, the former Mississippi State volleyball player has exceeded expectations and helped her programs reach new levels of success. Hazelwood believes she can follow that same formula at MSU.
STARKVILLE –– Starkville Academy’s Lyndsey Haynes mixed her pitches to mix up the Central Academy Lady Vikings at the plate. Haynes scattered four hits Tuesday afternoon to lead Starkville Academy to a 9-1 victory at home. “I didn’t throw one pitch in the same place the whole time,” said Haynes, who allowed three bunt singles. “If I threw outside and she’d foul it off, I’d go inside and high. Every pitch changed completely. It messed them up. The game (against Kemper Academy on Monday) I threw too much in the same place and I messed up and they would hit it.”
There’s something to be said for sure-handedness. For Heritage Academy’s Kristyn Atkins, all it took Tuesday was a rosin bag to help her feel more comfortable. The senior pitcher used rosin to keep her right hand dry en route to a complete-game three-hitter in an 8-1 victory against Hebron Christian. Atkins (1-1) struck out four, walked one, and never was in any serious trouble.
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