Krisi Boren saw the progress last season. After making it to the Division II state title game in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools in 2008, Boren watched as her team adjusted to playing against Division I competition in '09. The Lady Patriots experienced their share of growing pains, going 6-7 and finishing fourth in their district.
Michael Bradley isn't alone. Like most of his peers, the New Hope High School football coach was elated to start another season. Bradley has an extra bounce in his step because the Trojans are coming off an 11-win season in 2009 and have a team that has the potential to be even more successful this year. But as eager as Bradley is to get this season started, he wasn't very happy about when his team had to begin its preseason workouts.
Chloe Tapley is used to taking the initiative. As a pitcher, Tapley is one of the area's most proficient strikeout artists. At the plate, where she admits she doesn't feel she is as productive, Tapley has learned to slap or to get on base to help her team any way she can.
WEST POINT -- Sometimes it is as easy as sling it or chunk it. Julianne Jackson admits she doesn't have an array of pitches, but Monday she showed a simple approach is extremely effective.
What a way to kick off the season. Coming off a victory Friday against Starkville Academy, the Hebron Christian fast-pitch softball team knew Saturday could be a long day at the Winona Christian tournament. The team's stay nearly lasted as long as it expected. After losing their first game in their second game at the double-elimination tournament, the Lady Eagles battled back to win their next three games before eing eliminated with a 5-1 loss to Canton Academy.
Jessica Dickens hopes the work the Starkville Academy fast-pitch softball team put in in the offseason will pay dividends this season. If Saturday is any indication, the Lady Volunteers should be just fine. Coming off a loss to Hebron Christian on Friday, Starkville Academy defeated Heritage Academy 19-2 in five innings and Central Academy 16-13 before losing 8-3 to Oak Hill Academy in its third and final game at the Heritage Academy tournament at Propst Park.
Mamie Allen was ready. The Oak Hill Academy pitcher had talked with coach Marion Bratton, so she knew she likely would start in the circle Saturday for the team's first two games of the Heritage Academy tournament at Propst Park. The sophomore right-hander didn't mind she would have to shoulder such a load in 90-plus degree heat.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School's first fall scrimmage during head coach Jamie Mitchell's tenure had a little bit of everything Saturday morning. But the multitude of pre-snap penalties and fumbled snaps were potentially offset by a string of long plays from sophomore skilled players. The long grind of opening week culminated with an intrasquad scrimmage in front of an estimated crowd of 100 Yellow Jacket fans.
WEST POINT -- Depth was a problem for Oak Hill Academy fast-pitch softball coach Marion Bratton in 2009. Season-ending injuries to Paige Dawkins and Mary Helon Hays left the Lady Raiders without two starters and created openings for younger players. Without two key contributors on offense, Bratton's team had little margin for error and was forced to live with the growing pains associated with an inexperienced squad.
Cass Tapley hopes experience equals urgency this season. A year ago, the Hebron Christian fast-pitch softball coach could only scratch his head and wonder about his team. The Lady Eagles sputtered through the first part of the season and seldom resembled the team Tapley knew it could be.
Bud Lowe will play a numbers game this season. The hope for Lowe, who is in his first season as Heritage Academy fast-pitch softball coach, is that those numbers -- how many players he has on his team and how many victories the squad gets -- will only get bigger.
Bubba Davis and Aaron Lee are excited to be part of the Immanuel Center for Christian Education's growth. For Davis, it's only natural he will work in his role on the football field. The former football coach at West Point and Columbus high schools recently finalized plans to work as an assistant coach to Shawn Gates on the ICCE football team. Davis already has begun work with Gates and assistant coach Daniel Merchant and Lee, who also will work as an assistant football coach, girls track and field coach, and a Spanish teacher at the school.
STARKVILLE -- A move here. A move there. Let's see if that works. For much of Jessica Dickens' time as head coach of Starkville Academy softball, that has been the order of readying the team for the 2010 season. The former Leake Academy standout spent two seasons as an assistant on Randy Haynes' staff and took over in the spring following his swan song in 2009.
Rusty Greene has always enjoyed dabbling in the graphic arts. When he attended Mississippi University for Women, he thought that area of study would be something he would do professionally for the rest of his life. But Greene changed his mind just about when he was ready to receive his degree and decided to go back to school to become a teacher and a coach.
MACON -- The names might be different, but the approach will stay the same. That's the message Sammy Lindsey and the rest of the Central Academy fast-pitch softball team want opponents to know this season.
Hours of summer workouts, 7-on-7 games and time spent at college camps culminate today with the start of practice for area high school football teams. For the coverage area's two largest high schools, Columbus and Starkville, today's two-a-days mark the start of new coaching regimes. Jamie Mitchell had the spring to acclimate to his players at Starkville, while his Class 6A counterpart, Tony Stanford, made the transition of Bubba Davis' sudden retirement easier by being promoted from defensive coordinator to the top job on July 2.
HAMILTON -- Leaders do it all. Dylan Earnest and Katie Beth Dahlem epitomized that concept this season for the Hamilton High School baseball and fast-pitch softball teams.
Lamar County High School football coach Ken Adams didn't have to look at game film of all of the candidates to know three of the linebackers he wanted to play for the North in the 14th annual Alabama All-Star Sports Week game. Adams, the linebackers coach for the North, selected three linebackers he knows quite well -- Lance Bobbitt and Jimmy Lann of Lamar County and Sulligent High's Ahmad Walker -- to play in the game, which will be at 7 p.m. Friday at Louis Crews Stadium on the campus of Alabama A&M in Huntsville, Ala.
Deion Curry has no intentions of letting an injury keep him from showcasing his skills as an all-star. The Pickens County High School senior intends to take part in the 14th-annual Alabama All-Star Sports Week in Huntsville, Ala., this week despite recovering from a knee injury. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Curry was selected to play for the South in the boys basketball game, which is scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday at Spragins Hall on the campus of the Univerity of Alabama at Huntsville.
Make your plans now, the West Point High School football team is gearing up for a road trip. The Mississippi High School Activities Association defending Class 5A state champion Green Wave will take on Mainland (Fla.) at 7 p.m. Aug. 27 in Daytona Beach, Fla., to kick off the Gridiron Challenge at Daytona Municipal Stadium.
2. Baseball Bulldogs hit road for major weekend COLLEGE SPORTS
3. MSU softball faces No. 8 Kentucky for weekend series COLLEGE SPORTS
4. MSU, Alabama, Ole Miss women fall in SEC Tournament COLLEGE SPORTS