STARKVILLE -- The movements reflect experience. Shuffle step, shuffle step, pause, read ... go. Maegen Ellis slides safely into third base and springs up ready for more. She inches off the base while looking at second base. When she sees the throw go there in an attempt to retire a teammate, she is off again. Just like the last time, Ellis' speed catches the defense off guard and she slides in safely with the first run of the game.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School coach Jamie Mitchell knows what is priority number one going into the 2012 season.
PHEBA -- David Hudson still is adjusting to hearing the word "coach" before his name. Not that Hudson doesn't know the game of fast-pitch softball. He assisted head coach Cass Tapley the past two seasons at Hebron Christian School. But when Tapley decided not to coach the team this season, Hudson stepped forward and accepted the offer to lead a young team.
Summer has developed a well-earned reputation for being a time to sit back, to relax, and to kick your feet up, or to travel to a fun-filled vacation getaway. If you ask Chris McCullough and Christian Dale, though, their travel plans have been filled with plenty of work.
WEST POINT -- Time has stood still for five years in the Oak Hill Academy baseball/softball fieldhouse.
STARKVILLE -- Consider the 2011 season a first step.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville Academy shortstop Mary Austin Barber understands she will need to take on a leadership role this season. However, since she is the only senior on the 2012 fast-pitch squad, Barber will be happy to get some help from her friends.
MACON -- Confidence can work wonders with youth.
The indecision was eating at Anna McCrary.
"It's always fun to make history." That's the message Laura Lee Holman imparted Monday in her first official duties as New Hope High School volleyball coach.
Maggie Proffitt sensed the chemistry. Instead of questioning their roles on the Kenner (La.) Angels Amateur Athletic Union girls basketball team, Proffitt could feel all of the players coming together and developing an ability to play with each other.
Tiffany Huddleston and the rest of her Chicago Fire Juniors of Mississippi club members are ready to experience the sights, sounds, and food in a big city. Huddleston, a rising senior at Starkville Academy, won't have a lot of time for sightseeing in her fist trip to the Chicago suburb, but she will be sure to pack her appetite for one thing: Deep dish pizza.
DeShuni Sanders never considered herself a trailblazer. Growing up, DeShuni was like countless other children in the New Hope community of Columbus who grew up playing softball. It didn't take long for DeShuni to gravitate to the game. Little did DeShuni know that the love for the game that enveloped her was catching.
Many times the work athletes do on the field overshadows the things they do in the classroom and behind the scenes. But Noxubee County High School linebacker Javancy Jones has his priorities in order. From an early age, his parents stressed he needed to make good grades before he was allowed to participate in sports.
Daniel Merchant has a vision to sell.
There's no better time than the month of July to make an impression.
WEST POINT -- When completing his degree work at Mississippi State University, Stan Hughey thought he was preparing for a long baseball coaching career.
PHEBA -- Hebron Christian School basketball player Tori Nichols was not persuaded by Southern Arkansas University's athletic facilities. Instead, an animal or two helped tip the scales.
STEENS -- Immanuel Christian senior boys basketball player Ross Moore never doubted he would return to the court. However, Moore wasn't sure his shooting touch would return when he was back in uniform. Immanuel Christian coach Billy Thomas shared those concerns. Thomas knew Moore would bring leadership to the squad, but he knew the team also needed the offensive touch Moore could provide to help put the Rams over the top.
STEENS -- When making dinner arrangements with Columbus businessman Billy Thomas, you might want to call well in advance. In addition to being a owner of Benco Foods, Thomas devotes quite a bit of time at his other job: boys basketball coach at Immanuel Christian.
1. Ole Miss football team makes changes to coaching staff COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Griffin announces lineup for Joe Horne Christmas Classic HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Heritage Academy excited about chance to play in Memphis HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Ross, Simmons, Lewis earn All-SEC honors COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Mullen, MSU eager for another bowl opportunity COLLEGE SPORTS