Mallory Byrd likes to move. To satisfy her daughter, Val Byrd signed Mallory up to participate in dance classes so she could learn ballet, tap, and jazz steps. She quickly discovered Mallory needed a certain kind of movement. “It wasn’t her thing,” Val Byrd said of the dance classes. It wasn’t difficult for the Byrds to find an alternative. Mallory’s love for watching Olympic gymnastics turned out to be the motivation to get involved in the high-speed, high-flying sport.
MABEN — East Webster High School baseball coach Wes Johnson knows good pitching when he sees it. As a pitcher who played for coach Ron Polk at Mississippi State, Johnson understands the importance of commanding the strike zone.
The Columbus High School assistant football coaches already are in midseason form. The CHS players are doing their part to join them. Judging from the players’ performance Friday in an intrasquad scrimmage, the Falcons have made the most of their offseason workouts and are attacking spring football with enthusiasm.
Philip Tice doesn’t hesitate when asked what qualities make a clutch hitter. “Confidence,” Tice said. In his first year as a varsity starter, Tice is showing confidence beyond his years.
It was tempting for Mississippi State track jumper Priscilla Gaines to participate Saturday at the Mississippi Open in Oxford. After reaching a season-high and regional qualifying long jump of 19 feet, 8 inches at the Mississippi Invitational on April 11, the chance for more success there was inviting. But Gaines has something more important to do Saturday.
A fast start Monday on day one of the 2009 NJCAA Region 23 Golf Championship proved to be elusive for Hal Larkin. Birdies on three of the first five holes gave the former Caledonia High School golf standout reason to believe he could secure a trip to the NJCAA National Championship. But Larkin’s early momentum evaporated.
Nashedra Barry likes to stay busy. In addition to the time she spends with the Columbus High School girls basketball and slow- and fast-pitch softball teams, the senior standout is involved in a host of clubs and other extra-curricular activities.
STARKVILLE -- Tavaris Tate will stay home to run track collegiately. The Starkville High School senior has committed to Mississippi State to remain close to family and friends. He will officially sign Friday. The sprinter had many choices to consider, but said he couldn’t go wrong with Mississippi State.
South Lamar softball coach Tony Seals hopes to have a full compliment of pitchers when his team hosts the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class A, Area 10 Tournament. South Lamar’s pitching staff has been decimated by injuries and sickness in recent weeks and Seals hoped the Lady Stallions would be at full strength when the tournament began this morning. Seals had to pitch seventh-grader Kayla Jones for the first time in a varsity game against Gordo on Friday because Brittany Sanford has been sick, and Laken Hancock and Kendra Wilson have been injured.
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State baseball and softball teams have something in common at the top of its batting orders. Although both teams are struggling in the Southeastern Conference, baseball’s Grant Hogue and softball’s Chelsea Bramlett have enjoyed personal success stealing bases. Hogue leads the SEC with 28 stolen bases and is tied with Dave Klipstein for second most steals in a season in Mississippi State history. He is fifth in school history with 53 career stolen bases. As far as Bramlett, she has already set the Mississippi State single-season record for stolen bases with 49 and her 141 career thefts are tied her for the most all-time with Iyhia McMichael.
As a redshirt freshman on the Delta State baseball team, Brent Hallmark hasn’t had many opportunities to pitch. But Hallmark has made the most of the opportunities when he has gotten to take the mound. Hallmark, a 2007 graduate of New Hope High School, has appeared in four games for the Statesmen this season and he hasn’t allowed an earned run.
Mississippi State center Jarvis Varnado may not be able to get much bigger, but he can get better. That’s why another season at Mississippi State would benefit the two-time Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Varnado announced Monday that he was making himself eligible for early entry into the NBA Draft. He has until June 15 to decide if it is in his best interest.
Jason Williams’ professional mixed martial arts career is off to a rousing start. The Columbus native knocked out Roy Davis 10 seconds into round one of their fight Thursday at the Gladiator Challenge at the Pauma Casino in Pauma Valley, Calif. Williams saw an opening for the knockout after Davis threw a left-handed punch. He said he was surprised Davis was going to try to stand with him and punch, and he countered with a left hand.
Some players would have lost focus the moment they didn’t get the job done. But when you have been locked in at the plate like Philip Tice has been this season, no situation is too overwhelming. Stuck in an 0-2 hole after missing two bunt attempts, Tice lined a two-run triple down the right-field line Friday night to lift the New Hope High School baseball team to a 7-6 victory against Pontotoc in game two of its Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A second-round best-of-three playoff series at Trojan Field.
Speed and athletic ability are keys to winning baseball games at West Lowndes High School. In the 12 years that Todd Stanley has been the baseball coach at West Lowndes, the Panthers have tried to use an aggressive style on the basepaths to score runs. That was the case Friday night when West Lowndes manufactured a pair of runs to beat the Edinburg Eagles 2-0 and advance to the third round of the Class A state playoffs.
MABEN –– Tanner Roberson, of the East Webster High School baseball team, didn’t need nine lives Saturday afternoon. Two of them turned out to be very beneficial, however. Roberson’s good fortune began an offensive outbreak for East Webster as the Wolverines defeated the Bogue Chitto Bobcats 14-4 in six innings to clinch the second round Mississippi High School Association South Class A playoff series. East Webster (27-3) won the first game 17-2 Thursday.
HAMILTON — A bloop proved to be just the spark the Hamilton High School fast-pitch softball team needed. Katie Beth Dahlem’s bloop single paved the way for key hits by Miranda McCormick and Kelle West in the bottom of the sixth inning Saturday afternoon and helped Hamilton defeat Hatley 7-6 in game two of the Class 2A North State best-of-three state playoff series. With the victory, Hamilton (15-10) advances to the Class 2A best-of-three state title series Friday to play the winner of Enterprise and Loyd Star at Freedom Ridge State Park in Ridgeland.
MABEN — Jessica Halterman didn’t need to make any adjustments Saturday. One game after hurling a complete-game, four-hitter, the East Webster senior was even more dominating — and nearly perfect. Halterman pitched a no-hitter, struck out 14, and allowed only four baserunners to lead East Webster to a 7-0 victory against Bogue Chitto in game two of its Class A South State best-of-three state title series.
Will Swedenburg wants to do more at 10 a.m. Monday than help the Heritage Academy golf team just qualify for the Mississippi Private School Association Class AAA State Tournament. Playing on their home course at Columbus Country Club, Swedenburg and his Heritage Academy golf teammates feel they have a shot to challenge Pillow Academy and the rest of the top teams at the North AAA Tournament.
STARKVILLE –– Mississippi State’s football coaches believed the team progressed in all phases of the game during spring practice, but the common opinion throughout the program is that there is much improvement yet to be made. The Bulldogs spent 15 NCAA mandated practices in the spring, mainly trying to install the spread offense. On the defensive side, coordinator Carl Torbush liked going against the spread in practice and said his unit benefited from having many things thrown at it.
2. Starkville High's Talbert leads talented defensive line group HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Kelly sees signs of growth at Caledonia HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. New Hope's Tackett sees progress despite winless start HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS