WEST POINT — ChyAnne Cunningham already has made a name for herself in Northeast Mississippi. Krista Donald has earned the distinction of being one of the top girls basketball players in the state of Mississippi. Both girls and plenty of others from the area will try to broaden their horizons even more next week when they travel with the Mississippi Hoop Dreams Amateur Athletic Union girls basketball teams to Bloomington, Ind.., for the Adidas Hoosiers Nation Hardwood Championships.
The summer is the time to reload. That’s why Jeff Smith enjoys spending so many of his hours in the “offseason” helping the basketball players in West Lowndes stay sharp. Smith has been working as an Amateur Athletic Union basketball coach in the area for 12 years. This year, he is coaching a 17-and-under boys basketball team, one of four AAU age-group teams in West Lowndes, and helping those players (and others from local schools) prepare for what could be an even better 2009-10 season.
The answer is a resounding yes. The Columbus Nationals 10-year-old Dizzy Dean baseball team will go to the World Series in Tupelo. The Columbus Nationals took care of the first part of the equation earlier Wednesday night, beating Clinton 13-3 to win the South Half state title at Propst Park.
The Columbus Nationals battered opponents to the tune of 47 runs in their first three games in the Dizzy Dean 10-year-old South Half state tournament. After suffering their first loss of the tournament Monday to Clinton, the Columbus Nationals rebounded Tuesday in a big way. Logan Sneed delivered a complete-game effort to help the Columbus Nationals defeat Ackerman 8-4 in the final game of the losers’ bracket. Columbus then benefited from 11 walks in the nightcap to beat Clinton 16-6 in four innings.
The Columbus Crush will attempt to make it three in a row this weekend when it plays in the Mississippi Amateur Softball Association 10-and-under slow-pitch state tournament. The Crush will bid for the title Saturday in Meridian after winning the State Games of Mississippi on June 20 in Meridian and the USSSA state tournament in Philadelphia this past Saturday. Columbus is undefeated in seven games after beating the Grenada Lady Slammers in the championship games of the State Games and the USSSA state tournament.
GRENADA –– Prior to playing in the Dizzy Dean 7-year-old South State Invitational, the Columbus All-Stars paid special attention to hitting in practice. It paid dividends as Columbus didn’t lose a game en route to winning the tournament. Columbus averaged 23.3 runs per game in beating Batesville 25-9 on Friday, Grenada 25-10 on Saturday, and Starkville 20-12, and Grenada 23-8 on Sunday.
Momentum is a key ingredient of games at any age level. But Uncle Mo’ is especially important when you’re competing for a chance to advance to a World Series. The Clinton Arrows showed Monday night how crucial getting momentum on their side can be. Parker Lee worked out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the first inning to help Clinton preserve a lead en route to an 8-4 victory against the Columbus Nationals in a winners’ bracket game of the 10-year-old Dizzy Dean South Half state tournament at Propst Park.
The Columbus Nationals might be on the verge of putting it all together. One day after delivering a solid defensive and pitching effort, Columbus Nationals’ bats got hot again to help it take a step closer to a title. Tyler Anderson and LaQuinston Sharp hit home runs Sunday to help the Columbus Nationals 10-year-old All-Stars beat Eupora 21-4 in four innings at the Dizzy Dean South Half state tournament at Propst Park.
EUPORA -- The Starkville Freshman 11-year-old All-Stars were happy to claim an easy win after two high-scoring one-run decisions to open the Dizzy Dean South State Tournament. After losing 19-18 to Grenada on Friday night and beating Louisville 12-11 in the first game Saturday, Starkville had an easier time by knocking off Greenwood 13-3 in four innings. Starkville coach Will McWhorter was happy to see pitchers Cameron Johnston and Matthew Oxford respond with good outings.
Three weeks isn’t a lot of time to perfect the deception needed to collect a cooler, to sneak up on a coach, and to deliver a victory dousing. But Chuck Rose was willing Saturday night to give his players the benefit of the doubt. Judging from their performance on the field, the Grenada Pink Sox just might have to work on their sneak attack.
Balance and depth have been keys for the Columbus Nationals and the West Point 10-year-old All-Stars teams in the first two days of the South State Tournament at Propst Park. Both teams won their opening games Friday night and returned to the field Saturday to record their second-consecutive victories. West Point edged Caledonia 9-8, while the Columbus Nationals beat Grenada Youth 11-1 in five innings to stay in the tournament’s winners’ bracket.
STARKVILLE — Starkville’s Dizzy Dean All-Star baseball teams are looking to celebrate more than Independence Day this weekend. The teams hope to add South State championships and a trip to the World Series to the holiday fun. Jim Moorehead’s age group seeks to defend its state championship when it plays in the Freshman 12 South State in Winona at 3:30 p.m. today. Starkville received a bye and will play the winner of the Winona-Grenada game.
WINONA –– The Columbus Nationals won their opening two games Thursday in the Dizzy Dean 12-year-old South State Tournament. The Nationals beat West Point 14-7 and Ackerman 12-1 to advance to Saturday. The Nationals, coached by Marty Stillman, had seven hits against West Point and eight against Ackerman.
Kiki Patterson is working toward a dream. There already have been plenty of stops on that road, and there will be plenty more in the next three years. But the length of that journey isn’t going to affect Patterson. Instead, it is going to encourage her to work even harder so she accomplish her goal of earning a scholarship to play basketball at a Division I school. Patterson’s play with Team Memphis Elite, an Amateur Athletic Union team out of Tennessee, is helping her get noticed.
STARKVILLE -- Shane Grantham has been given the responsibility of teaching 7-year-old All-Stars more about the game while playing in a competitive situation this weekend. The Starkville 7 Coach-Pitch All-Stars begin the Dizzy Dean State Tournament at Grenada when it plays Water Valley at 1:30 p.m. Friday. Starkville played two practice games and also scrimmaged against Columbus in getting ready and Grantham believes his squad is prepared for tournament action.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville Academy believes it has an up and coming point guard in freshman Tiffany Huddleston. Having a summer league to help develop her talents has been considered a good thing for the Lady Volunteers. The Starkville Park and Recreation Department provided just that and concluded its June high school basketball league on Tuesday.
The West Point High School softball program continues to build. After taking over as West Point’s fastpitch coach last season, Libby Forrester saw the Lady Green Wave go from two wins to eight in the spring, while the junior varsity won 12 games. Although the varsity didn’t achieve a winning season, Forrester sees progress being made. Forrester has taken advantage of the high school summer softball league offered by the Starkville Park and Recreation Department, and it was able to get her younger players some experience.
Hebron Christian softball coach Cass Tapley believes he has a good team that’s getting better. The high school summer league that was held at the Starkville Sportsplex has helped that along. For a program that has only been in existence for six years, the Lady Eagles have fastly become competitive. Tapley, who became the coach at Hebron last year, thinks his squad can be better than in 2008 when it was 13-7 and won the district championship with a 9-1 mark.
Bigger doesn’t necessarily always mean better. Take the Dizzy Dean High School World Series in the Golden Triangle this past weekend for example. Althoough the World Series consisted of only 17 teams, Dizzy Dean Baseball officials Richard Ellis and Stacy Hester were pleased with the results. Although the response was the lightest in the seven years the Golden Triangle has hosted the World Series, the spirit and competition remained strong.
There is something to be said for togetherness. The way Johnny Suggs sees it, this just might be the year for the Caledonia 10-year-old All-Stars to compete for a title. Caledonia will be one of 16 teams that will begin play Friday at Propst Park in Columbus in the Dizzy Dean Baseball South State Tournament. The five- to six-day event also will feature teams from Columbus (Americans, Nationals), Starkville, Louisville, West Point, and Hamilton.
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