MADISON — The Madison Central baseball team scored 11 runs in two innings and had a mammoth day at the plate Thursday to beat Starkville 16-6 to open the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A state playoffs. Madison Central leadoff hitter Josh Crowder ended the game with a two-run, walk-off homer in the fifth inning to give the Jaguars a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series. Starkville used four pitchers, walking nine batters against one of the best lineups in the state.
Routine equals success. Whether it means taking hundreds of groundballs or swinging several hundred more times in the batting cage, baseball players use repetition to perfect their technique. Philip Tice and Brent Younger grew up following those practices. In the field, Tice grew accustomed to the angles and throws he had to make from second base, while Younger learned how to range to both sides and how to play the variety of hops a shortstop sees every game. But Tice and Younger learned change is just as big a part of athletics as routine.
Empress Shirley was tempted. Even though she had practiced and played softball for years, there was a voice inside Shirley’s head that told her it might be a good idea to quit the New Hope High School softball program. After all, Shirley would have more time to spend with some of her friends. She also would have more time to find a job or simply hang out and relax and enjoy her senior year. The Lady Trojans are glad Shirley didn’t give in to temptation.
CALEDONIA — Jelisha Hackman has lofty goals this season. The Caledonia High School junior wants to crack 36 feet in the triple jump. She also wants to help the school’s 4x400-meter relay team advance to the Class 4A state meet next month. But Hackman’s biggest goal likely is breaking the one-minute barrier in the 400. ”I am going to do it before the year is over,” Hackman said. “I am going to get a 58.” Hackman nearly reached the first part of her goal at the District 4 meet at Kosciusko, winning the event with a time of 1 minute, 1 second. Hackman knows that time won’t be good enough if she wants to continue to advance, so she has her sights set on breaking one minute Saturday when Caledonia is scheduled to compete in the regional meet at Mississippi Valley State University. West Lowndes also will compete Saturday at Mississippi Valley State in the Class 2A, Region 2 meet.
STARKVILLE — Danny Carlisle has an interesting approach to the Starkville High School baseball team’s opening-round playoff series against Madison Central. The Jaguars (24-2) play host to the Yellow Jackets (14-7) at 7 tonight in the first game of the best-of-three Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A series.
Lewis Earnest and Jason Cobb feel their teams are ready to make postseason runs. Those journeys will start a day earlier than expected when the Hamilton High School baseball and fast-pitch softball teams begin play today in the opening rounds of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 2A playoffs. The Hamilton baseball team (16-3) will play host to Broad Street in a doubleheader at 4 p.m., while the softball team (15-8) will play at 6 tonight at East Union.
South Lamar High School baseball coach Lane Wright has seen his team peak at the right time of the season. South Lamar is just 11-17, but has advanced to the third round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class A playoffs by sweeping the first two rounds.
STARKVILLE — This time last year, Jamie Mitchell was leading one of the top football programs in the state. But much like he’s shown with resurrection projects at South Tippah, Olive Branch and Itawamba Agricultural, diving into a new situation yields results. He expects the same at Starkville High School— his latest project and coveted job from 10 years ago.
CARROLLTON, Ala. — The Pickens Academy baseball team put itself in a situation without many options early in the season. Three region losses left the Pirates in danger of missing out on their first goal of the season: Making the playoffs. “The losses rallied the team and we knew we had to win out,” junior pitcher Chase Davidson said. Faced with the prospect of seeing their season end too soon, the Pirates responded to help secure their postseason chances.
There are plenty of questions surrounding the status of Rashad Perkins. But Chipola College (Fla.) men’s basketball coach Jake Headrick is certain about one thing. The first-year Chipola coach confirmed Monday night that Perkins, The Commercial Dispatch Large Schools Boys Basketball Player of the Year, Mississippi’s Mr. Basketball, and Southern Mississippi signee will play for the junior college for the 2010-11 school year.
CALEDONIA — Jessica Comer is gearing up for a challenge. The Caledonia High School junior plans to be ready.
KOSCIUSKO — The Caledonia High School girls track and field team won the Class 4A, Division 4, District 4 title Thursday at Kosciusko High School. Caledonia scored 164 points to beat Noxubee County (second, 118 points) and Amory (third, 113). Louisville was fourth with 42 points. Caledonia’s Jessica Comer won individual titles in the 800 (2 minutes, 29 seconds), 1,600 (5:41), and 3,200 meters (12:31). She also teamed with Brooke Lester, Isis Perkins, and Jelisha Hackman to win the 4x400-meter relay with a time of 4:31.
STARKVILLE — Greg Carter thought being the only team in the state to end the season with a win would feel different after years of playoff disappointment. The euphoria from winning the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A state title gave the Starkville High School boys basketball coach a myriad emotions. The victory lifted a burden from Carter’s shoulders and certified his tenure at the school with a tradition-setting run that finally provided the hardware to prove it. But if returning to the court after failing to accomplish all you set out for is difficult, getting over the jubilation of being the best team in the state has proven just as laborious.
STARKVILLE — If there was a more dominant, exciting, and pivotal player than Starkville High’s Rashad Perkins in The Commercial Dispatch coverage area, it might be his alley-oop launcher Edward Townsel. What put Perkins over the top in The Dispatch’s voting process was his performance in the Class 6A state semifinals and final, where he averaged 23 points and 14 rebounds. He set the tone with a Herculean effort of 25 points, 14 rebounds, 13 blocked shots and five steals against Biloxi. The future Southern Miss Eagle didn’t suffer any lag against Rodney Hood and Meridian.
Laura Lee Holman entered her first year in charge of the New Hope High School girls basketball team by setting the bar at a milestone that hadn’t been reached in 18 years. As a former Lady Trojan, she never experienced the joy of lifting a district championship trophye. Many players came before her and finished their New Hope basketball careers in the same fashion. The goal, in all likelihood, was the same New Hope coaches before Holman had set.
WEST POINT — Sometimes, toughness is ingrained in a player. Growing up in a large family of boys and as a self-proclaimed “country girl,” West Point High School point guard Kelsei Ewings has turned what usually is a disadvantage into a weapon. At 5-foot-5, Ewings is used to being one of the shortest players on the court. But while height typically is coveted at every position, Ewings’ blend of speed, vision, shooting, and grit has given West Point coach Jemmye Ann Helms a dynamic weapon the past three years. Ewings averaged 22 points, five assists, four rebounds, and five steals a game this season, leading the Lady Wave to a 17-7 record and a spot in the first round of the Class 5A North Half State playoffs, where they lost to Yazoo City.
WEST POINT — Brook Robinson’s college plans didn’t initially include softball. Instead, the West Point High School senior intended to concentrate on her interest in art in hopes of possibly becoming a graphic designer or illustrator.
LOUISVILLE — M.C. Miller is coming home. The veteran football coach, who had recently accepted the job as head football coach at Harrison Central High School, left the Red Rebels to return to his hometown Louisville Wildcats after the Louisville School District approved the hiring Wednesday night.
New Hope High School baseball coach Lee Boyd was sure to make note Tuesday of his team’s 13-1 record since the end of March after the Trojans beat Saltillo 13-3 to clinch the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A, Division 2, District 1 championship. Boyd wants everyone to remember there’s a difference between the way the Trojans are playing now and prior to its hot streak. Offensively, the team is more complete and producing clutch hits.
The power of protection is fueling the New Hope High School baseball team. At the heart of the engine, seniors Davis Lee and Jake Smith are doing all they can to help make sure the Trojans realize their goal of winning a state title this season.
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