CALEDONIA -- Zia Saraiva doesn't think she is a loud mouth. It's just that when she gets on the soccer field she usually doesn't stop talking. In some sports, Saraiva's gift for gab could take away from her play and distract her team. But the Caledonia High School girls soccer team has gotten used to Saraiva's penchant for constant communication as a defender. In fact, her talkativeness helped anchor the Lady Confederates' defense the past three seasons.
Inexperience never was an excuse for Katie Proctor. When she first joined the Columbus High School girls soccer team as a freshman, Proctor didn't know any way else to play but to go all out. The score or the time remaining in the match didn't matter because Proctor realized even as a ninth-grader it was up to her to set a pace she hoped others were going to follow.
CLINTON -- One down, two to go. Reality can make the high of even a first Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA state championship wear off pretty quickly. Such was the predicament the Starkville Academy girls basketball team faced Wednesday in its first game at the MAIS overall state tournament at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the campus of Mississippi College.
CLINTON -- The Starkville Academy girls basketball team outscored Bowling Green (La.) Academy 18-2 in the fourth quarter Wednesday to rally for a 45-35 victory in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools overall state tournament at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the campus of Mississippi College. With the win, Starkville Academy (36-5), the Class AAA champion, will play the winner of the Mt/ Salus Christian Academy-Jackson Prep game at 1 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
Starkville High executed three different hit-and-run opportunities to perfection Tuesday night. With offensive production like that, the Yellow Jackets did not need the 12 walks and two hit batsman issued by Columbus pitching or the six errors made by the Columbus defense. All of those extras led to a bevy of insurance runs as the Jackets belted the Falcons 18-4 in a five-inning prep baseball contest.
STARKVILLE -- It's only natural for the Starkville Academy girls basketball team to look to Anna Prestridge to be a leader. Many of the Lady Volunteers might not know it, but Prestridge grew up with a basketball in her hands and has played point guard all her life, so it isn't surprising she transitioned into that role at Starkville Academy.
WEST POINT -- With a drenched diamond and gloomy atmosphere, the West Point Green Wave overcame the elements to knock off Caledonia 6-3 in prep baseball action Tuesday night. The Green Wave (1-2) rocked the baseball for the first three innings and scored five runs. Four of those five runs came off the bats of starting pitcher Freddie Reed and eventual closer Leroy Calvert - both with two RBIs apiece.
JACKSON -- The Wayne County High School boys basketball team was simply better than Starkville in every way possible.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School boys basketball coach Greg Carter has a short list of keys to victory for his team at the state tournament. "In the Big House, everybody is really good," Carter said. "It comes down to taking care of the little stuff, that and making shots. I know that sounds simple, but this is not rocket science. The championship teams are the ones who take care of the little stuff and make shots."
PHEBA -- Push, pull, prod, bump, elbow. You name it, Hebron Christian senior center Tori Nichols has felt it from opponents. You can't blame them, really, because Nichols has been so dominant that two and three players often have trouble slowing her down so they have to resort to any means necessary to gain a stalemate or an advantage.
STEENS -- Baseball players and coaches at Hebron Christian have big goals for this season. The Eagles want to win a district championship. "Our expectations are really high this year," Hebron Christian coach Cass Tapley said. "We have raised the bar this year. We are in it to win every game we play. Anything less than a district championship will be a disappointment."
CALEDONIA -- After a dismal performance at the plate during the final preseason jamboree last week, Caledonia High School baseball coach John Wilson thought his team had taken a step back. Caledonia struck out 18 times in 24 at-bats in a pair of four-inning games at Columbus. Sure, the Feds' top two hitters from the previous season were gone, but the rest of the roster was intact. Wilson was keen to see his team close the gap after losing 13 games in which they led after the fifth inning in 2011.
PELAHATCHIE --- Go ahead and call Starkville Academy the comeback champions. For the second time in as many days, the Lady Volunteers basketball team rallied from a double-digit deficit to take home the school's first-ever Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA state championship with a 47-35 win over Madison-Ridgeland Academy Saturday afternoon at East Rankin Academy.
JACKSON -- That one fleeting moment to tie the game. That's all Aberdeen High School boys basketball coach Roy Hazzle thought his team needed to be playing for a Class 3A state championship gold ball trophy next week.
Four sophomores and two seniors earned their first start and first taste of varsity action for the New Hope High School baseball team Friday. It was the perfect time for coach Lee Boyd to get his first look at how his young squad handles a deficit. New Hope overcame a three-run hole with a five-run third inning against Amory High en route to a 6-4 win in the season opener for both teams.
STARKVILLE -- Successful basketball teams excel when players perform their roles. Sometimes the same can be said about families. In the case of the Starkville High School boys basketball team's Mike and Steve Brand, each knows one the other quite well, and the brothers complement each other quite well on and off the court.
PELAHATCHIE -- The Starkville Academy girls basketball team defeated Jackson Academy 34-30 on Friday in the semifinals of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA state tournament at East Rankin Academy.
ABERDEEN -- Aberdeen High School has not lost back-to-back basketball games during the 2011-12 season. That statistic will be put to the test Saturday when the Bulldogs (26-6) face Kemper County (26-8) in a semifinal game Saturday at the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 3A state tournament.
ABERDEEN -- Aberdeen boys basketball coach Roy Hazzle stands on the baseline of Roy Hazzle Gymnasium barking out pointers to four different players on one offensive set. The 59-year-old Aberdeen native is working just as hard as he did on his first day of employment, Halloween of 1977. The hard work continues to pay off as the Bulldogs are headed back to the Mississippi Coliseum to make a sixth-ever appearance in the Mississippi High School Activities Association's state championship tournament.
STARKVILLE -- Armed with a mind-set to "finish" this season, the Starkville Academy baseball team had to like what it saw Wednesday from pitcher Ryan McKell. The senior threw a five-hit shutout to lead Starkville Academy to a 10-0 victory against Oak Hill Academy in a five-inning contest at Volunteer Field.