STARKVILLE -- Jamie Mitchell's Starkville High School football team has gotten mentally and physically tougher, but he will find out just how much progress his squad has made when it faces Jackson Callaway on Saturday at the New Hope High jamboree at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium.
STARKVILLE -- The Robert Gardner era at Starkville Academy kicked off Thursday with an 11-0 rout of Washington School. The first-year Lady Volunteers' coach watched his side score seven goals in the first half and hold Washington to just one shot on goal in its season opener at the Starkville Sportsplex.
MERIDIAN -- Taylor Baudoin had three goals and an assist Thursday to lead the Immanuel Christian girls soccer team to a 6-1 victory against Russell Christian in its season opener.
MACON -- The Central Academy fast-pitch softball team scored two runs in the first inning and three more in the second Tuesday en route to a 6-0 victory against Oak Hill Academy. Paige Buchanan went the distance in the pitching circle and was the winning pitcher for Central. The leading hitters for Central Academy were Megan Banks with a double and single, Kendall Taylor with a double, and Blake Rigdon with a single.
There is something to be said for a high school football team playing host to a 10-team jamboree at its school. It's another thing when that team gets a chance to play host to the event at Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field.
CALEDONIA -- Marlana Dolan has to be ready for anything. As a setter, she would love to receive perfect passes so she has time to set up and to pick her hitters to help them deliver kills for the Caledonia High School volleyball team. But any setter knows that is a dream that is rarely realized.
STEENS -- The prospect of not having any seniors would scare some coaches and players. But Ray Campbell and his Immanuel Christian girls soccer team are looking forward to the challenge of building with youth.
Rachel Hollivay already is one of the best girls basketball players in the Class of 2012. Ranked in the top 10 by nearly every national recruiting service, the Heritage Academy junior has attracted interest from coaches from all over the country. But Hollivay did something last week that made all of the scouts and coaches take notice.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville Academy and Central Academy posted the only victories Saturday by local teams at the Starkville Academy tournament at the Mississippi State Recreation Complex. Oak Hill and Heritage Academy lost both of their games in the tournament. Starkville Academy opened the day with a 6-4 victory against Central Academy, but it lost its next two games to Leake Academy (2-1) and to Pillow Academy and was ousted from the double-elimination event.
STARKVILLE -- As Starkville Academy's third head coach in the last three seasons, Robert Gardner has the attacking tools to make the Lady Volunteers a postseason threat. But will defense and youth be too much to overcome? One year removed from a Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA playoff berth, the Lady Volunteers are unsettled on who'll man the back line. Also, the team has just one senior (Shelby Carpenter), and no juniors.
Former Hamilton High School baseball standout Dylan Earnest has added another honor to his array of accomplishments. In June, Earnest was chosen to the Louisville Slugger High School All-American team. Earnest, a left-handed pitcher/outfielder, led the Lions to the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 2A title series, where they lost in two games to Richton. He is playing with the Pontotoc Red Sox in the American Legion Mid-South Regional in Grand Prairie, Texas. He will attend Itawamba Community College when he returns.
STARKVILLE -- Jeff Terrill's positive energy is infectious. And it's a good thing as Starkville Academy's football program is attempting to climb out of the valley and to the top of the mountain. Today's home scrimmage against Leake Academy gives the Volunteers their first chance to play against a different team since Terrill took over at the beginning of the year. Eager, hungry, anxious and antsy, the Vols have been buoyed by Terrill's diligence in creating an expectation to be better than they've been since winning a state title in 2005.
CALEDONIA -- Samantha Brooks loves to build. Three seasons ago, Brooks took over as head coach of the Caledonia High School volleyball program with a stable of sophomores. She realized at the time those players had the potential to help establish the foundation for a program. The best thing about sophomores is they become juniors and then seniors.
STARKVILLE -- Playing as a team is a goal every athlete and coach will list at some point of the season. And as cliché and obvious as the concept might seem, a team won't get far with individual play. Starkville High School volleyball coach Lauren Love has been drilling that concept to her squad since she took over last season. Communication is vital for solid team play, but the spirit of playing for one another can help overcome any deficiencies or lack of experience.
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.
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