It didn't take long for Starkville Academy to find a boys basketball coach to replace Clay Stringer as Harrison Central assistant Chris Lyle was named head coach Friday afternoon.
HAMILTON -- With two perfect games and a pair of one-hitters to his credit, the pressure on Hamilton High School pitcher Dylan Earnest to match or exceed his more recent exploits can often times be overwhelming. That pressure dissipated rather quickly Thursday after Bruce High School uncharacteristically touched the senior lefthander for two first-inning hits -- the second of which was a two-run homer by cleanup hitter Caleb Hanley -- en route to 2-0 lead just four batters into the game. Undaunted by falling behind, Earnest quickly reverted back to his usual form and went on to toss six innings of shutout baseball en route to a 6-2 win in the opening game of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 2A North State series.
Turnovers are devastating in any season. A good team makes you pay for them in the spring, too. Buoyed by a strong running attack, the Noxubee County High School football team capitalized on four turnovers to beat New Hope 28-20 in the spring finale for both teams. The result helped Tyrone Shorter, who was officially approved Monday to replace M.C. Miller as the program's new coach, begin his tenure in style against a Class 5A team that has plenty of returning talent from last season when it advanced to the North Half State title game.
STARKVILLE -- The hectic time period the Starkville High Yellow Jackets have gone through under a new head coach will conclude when they play Brandon and Forest Hill in tonight's jamboree at Jackson's Newell Field. For the past three weeks, the Jackets have beat up each other while trying to learn new systems on both sides of the ball and head coach Jamie Mitchell's practice tempo. The first-year Jackets head coach admits there are "loose ends" that still need to be tied up, but he believes the team is on course with where he wanted it to be heading into tonight's 5 p.m. start.
CALEDONIA -- Sarah Guess thought her track and field season would be finished by now. Before the start of her sophomore campaign at Caledonia High School, Guess targeted reaching the Class 4A North Half State meet. In her second year throwing the discus, she figured that would be an attainable goal. Guess' performance Saturday at the North Half State meet at Pontotoc forced her to re-assess her goals.
CRAWFORD -- Two years ago, East Oktibbeha High School didn't have a track program. Saturday, the Titans have a chance to win a state track title. A district title and runner-up regional and Class 1A South State finishes have positioned the Titans to bring the school its first state title -- regardless of sport -- since the girls and boys basketball teams each won state crowns in 2007. Head coach Randy Brooks jump-started the program last year, and with a small group of freshmen sprinters totaled nine points at the state meet last season.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High's girls' track team heads to Pearl with less representatives than usual, but the Lady Jackets could end up with more individual titles than they did in last year's seventh place finish at the state meet. The Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A North State meet yielded just four state qualifiers for fourth-year head coach Mitchell Evans, but the Starkville graduate is banking on experience to push the five-runner team to a solid finish.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. ---- The South Lamar High School softball team earned a berth in the Final Four of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class A State Tournament by winning two games Thursday. South Lamar put its back to the wall with a 4-1 loss to Pleasant Home in its opening game of the double-elimination tournament, but kept its quest for a state championship alive by beating Sweet Water 10-0 in five innings and Waterloo 1-0. South Lamar (37-12) advanced in the tournament at Lagoon Park to play Ariton at 10:30 a.m. today.
Michael Bradley doesn't want past success to go to his players' heads. The New Hope High School football team has lost to the eventual state champion (Noxubee County in Class 4A in 2008, West Point in Class 5A in '09) the past two seasons.
HAMILTON - At most high schools, winning division titles, playing in North Half title series, and competing for state championships are the stuff of dreams. That's not the case at Hamilton High School, however, where the baseball team has garnered more than its share of championships in the past 16 years.
STARKVILLE -- Sometimes, your next direction comes from a divine source. Clay Stringer's faith in God presented him with an opportunity he has relished since he became a high school teacher and coach. And as tough as the decision to leave Starkville Academy was, Stringer followed his heart and accepted a position to be principal at Hillcrest Christian School.
Bruce Branch can't wait to get started. The 2010 baseball season recently ended for Heritage Academy, but Branch, who was hired as the school's new head coach Tuesday, is already rearing to go. "I am excited for the opportunity," Branch said. "I am kind of overwhelmed. I am trying to take it all in."
David Boykin will coach in Class 4A, Region 4, District 4 this season. The only change is he will do his work at a different school. On Tuesday, the Louisville School District approved the hiring of Boykin as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for the Louisville High School football team.
Tyrone Shorter didn't intend to stay in Noxubee County. Fresh off a training camp stint with the NFL's San Diego Chargers and a year with the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos, Shorter moved back to Macon to be closer to his mother, who had just remarried. Shorter's step father knew a man -- M.C. Miller -- who changed those plans. Miller, the coach of the Noxubee County High School football team, remembered Shorter from his playing days at Port Gibson High School, and it didn't take him long to offer him a job as an assistant coach on his staff.
Sammy Smith looks back and smiles when he thinks of where Michael Hall, Akeem Toppin and Bobby Wrench were as freshmen. The ninth-graders didn't have a lot of success on the basketball court, but Smith saw the potential in each young man. "They grew, they grew, the grew and they made steps," Smith said. "The group before them, Philip (Morris) and Josh (Carothers, East Central Community College), made a difference in their lives and made them push a little harder. That made myself and the staff feel real good. I think the community will be pleased with how we have the boys going on (to college) and, hopefully, they will be successful in life and with what they're going to do." All three players recently realized opportunities to have basketball be a part of the next steps in their lives. Hall will continue his athletic career at Southwest Mississippi C.C., while Toppin and Wrench will be teammates at Copiah-Lincoln C.C.
The South Lamar High School softball team will get another chance to win a state championship after finishing runner-up last season. South Lamar has earned a berth in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class A State Tournament for the second year in a row after losing to Speake in last year's championship game. The Lady Stallions (34-11) earned a berth in the state tournament by finishing runner-up to Ragland in the North Central Regional Tournament at Vestavia Hills, Ala., this past Saturday. South Lamar's opening game is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday against Pleasant Home at Lagoon Park in Montgomery, Ala.
Four local high school baseball players were recently recognized for their accomplishments and earned spots on their state's All-State teams.
The best is yet to come for Kelli Petty. The New Hope High School track and field standout took the next to last step in her prep career in style Saturday, winning three individual events at the Class 5A North Half State meet.
VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. -- The South Lamar High School fast-pitch softball team won four games to make it to the championship game and finished as the runner-up in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class A North Central Regional Tournament.
Two weeks ago, Chris Chism told his players his fourth season would be his last as the coach of the Hernando High School baseball team. The Tigers are doing everything they can to make Chism's final run a memorable one. Cody Camp and David Hinkle had RBI singles in the top of the seventh inning to help Hernando beat New Hope 5-3 in Game 2 and sweep its best-of-three Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A playoff series.
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3. Bulldogs ready to forget past, focus on Texas A&M COLLEGE SPORTS
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