Jeff Hunter doesnít aspire to be a professional baseball coach. The former New Hope High School and Mississippi State pitcher also is hesitant to become a high school baseball coach. But Hunterís love for the game couldnít keep him away from the Cotton States Baseball League. On Tuesday, Hunter will take the field as coach for the Golden Triangle Jets when the team plays its first two games of the Cotton States Baseball League - North Divisionís inaugural season.
Players arenít the only ones who are tested in the spring and summer months. While parents have to shuttle their children to and from games, coaches are the ones who are on site hours before games preparing the field and hours after games cleaning up and getting things ready for the next day. Columbus High School baseball coach Jeff Cook and New Hope High assistant baseball coach Chris Ball are two area coaches who will play a variety of roles in the next few months on the diamond.
STARKVILLE ó†Starkville High Schoolís summer team knew it was in trouble in the second game of a Dizzy Dean doubleheader Thursday when New Hope pitcher Jake Upton struck out four in the first inning. Upton accomplished the feat when he threw a wild pitch on the third strikeout and then retired Blake Dawkins swinging to end the frame. The Yellow Jackets could never adjust to Uptonís knuckleball and only got one hit in three innings.
The Columbus High School baseball teamís 2010 team started Thursday night. Josh Tentoni, Tyji Hawkins, and the rest of the Falcons intend to make that season a success. Tentoni had four hits and Hawkins added two and a strong pitching performance to help Columbus beat East Webster 4-3 and 11-3 in the Dizzy Dean opener for both teams at Sammy Fletcher Field. Nick Durrah also had three hits, including the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the seventh to help Columbus turn the page.
The time is right for Brian Alexander. The 17-year coaching veteran didnít know how Russell Brooks found his name, but he didnít dismiss the opportunity that will keep him on the court through the summer. Alexander, a former assistant boys basketball coach for Sammy Smith at Columbus High, is the head coach of the World Basketball Association Exposure Leagueís Tupelo Rock-n-Rollers.
Chad Davis is excited about Columbus. As sales and marketing director for Ring Media Group, itís Davisí job to find new markets to showcase mixed martial arts, one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Davis believes he has found one in The Friendly City ó and at just the right time.
Chris Sykes and Elmo Brown have plenty of basketball left. Now the 34-year-old former Aberdeen High School and Delta State standout has to convince someone heís right. Sykes and Brown, 34, a former basketball player at Columbus High, are two of 10 players on the roster for the Tupelo Rock-n-Rollers of the World Basketball Association Exposure League. They hope to use the league to showcase their talent and to land another job that will pay them to play professional basketball.
Jarvis Gunter was a teenager the first time he experienced Kids With Character. As a member of the Columbus High School boys basketball team, Gunter and his peers volunteered at the free camp and were charged with being a positive influence for the younger kids in the community.
Steve Hancock hopes the building process will continue this summer. In his first season as baseball coach at Heritage Academy, Hancock guided the Patriots to a trip to the Mississippi Private School Association AAA playoffs and a 10-16 finish. Although Heritage Academy lost to Hillcrest Christian in the first round, Hancock was pleased the program raised its competitiveness and its confidence.
STARKVILLE ó Hunting used to be a way for Dawn Branton and Kristi Brown to find time to spend with their husbands. Now their time tracking turkeys, deer, and antelope has become so much more. Not only has hunting helped them build a strong friendship, but it also has helped the women achieve a special honor. Last month in the Sierra Madre mountains in Chihuahua, Mexico, Branton and Brown killed their final turkey to complete their World Slams.
With the support of her parents, Courtney Musgrove was able to open her own business. For three years, the 22-year-old, Mississippi University for Women student has operated the Full Out Tumble and Cheer gymnasium. The gym, which is in Columbus, provides students with opportunities to learn tumbling, cheerleading, and All-Star cheerleading, a competitive form of cheerleading.
The Heritage Academy Patriots went from nearly striking out completely to striking back before finally having their season come to an end Friday night. Heritage was held scoreless on two hits with nine strikeouts through four innings before battling back in a 4-3 loss to Hillcrest Christian in the Mississippi Private School Association Class AAA playoffs. The Patriots (10-16) finished with only three hits and 16 strikeouts and didnít have an RBI hit, but had a chance to win when they scored a run and loaded the bases in their last at-bat.
PEARL ĖĖ Starkville High School boys track coach Cleveland Hudson never lost faith in his teamís chances†to defend its Class 5A state championship despite consecutive second-place finishes in the†division, region and North State meets. Thatís because Hudson had Tavaris Tate on his side. Tate accomplished something that had never been done before in Class 5A by winning the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes, and then pulling the 4x400 relay team through to victory as Starkville scored 66 points to overcome second-place Meridianís 60.
Christian Dale will get an opportunity this summer to watch some of Major League Baseballís future stars. In the process, Dale also will get a chance to develop his skills so he might one day reach that level. Last month, the Lee Middle School eighth-grader attended an Under Armour Tryout Event at Zephyr Field in New Orleans. Dale did so well at the tryout that he earned an invitation to an Under Armour Baseball Factory Specialty Training Camp in Cape Cod, Mass.
Bob McCrory had reason to be both pleased and disappointed Tuesday as he made his season debut with the Baltimore Orioles. McCrory pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, but the team didnít fare as well by suffering a 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at St. Petersburg, Fla. ďThe way I look at it, you have a job to do and thatís go out there and try to get outs,Ē McCrory said. ďItís disappointing we didnít win, but I had a job to do to go out there and try to get outs. Iím happy I pitched well, but I was disappointed we didnít win.Ē
Bob McCrory got an unexpected birthday present this weekend when he learned he will get another opportunity to pitch in the major leagues. The Baltimore Orioles recalled McCrory, 27, on Sunday, and he rejoined the team in Toronto on his birthday.
Even the most talented teams sometimes need a break. The Columbus Severstal Under-12 girls soccer team used two days of championship play and a little bit of good fortune this weekend to win a state title. Columbus defeated the Greenwood Revolution 2-0 in the semifinals and then beat a team from Hattiesburg 2-1 to take the Kohlís Cup championship in Jackson. The U-12 age division featured 16 of the stateís top recreation soccer teams in an eight-on-eight tournament.
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. ďIt wasnít her thing,Ē Val Byrd said of the dance classes. It wasnít difficult for the Byrds to find an alternative. Malloryís love for watching Olympic gymnastics turned out to be the motivation to get involved in the high-speed, high-flying sport.
Jason Williamsí 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.
1. MSU's Stricklin says cost of attendance right way to go COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Columbus Christian boys beat rival Hebron Christian HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Georgia's Frazier knocks out MSU COLLEGE SPORTS
5. New Hope boys, West Point girls earn wins HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS