STARKVILLE -- Thursday's softball game between Starkville High and Starkville Academy featured teams in similar situations. Both are trying to break in a new starting pitcher and to replace starters who graduated in the spring.
Craig Shannon didn't have an idea Bubba Davis was retiring until a week ago. That's why Shannon wasn't taken aback Monday when Davis announced his retirement after two seasons as head football coach at Columbus High School.
Bubba Davis always said if he could get up every day and go to a job he enjoyed he would coach for as long as possible. That was no longer the case for Davis at Columbus High School. As a result, the Falcons are looking for a new football coach. On Monday, Davis officially announced his retirement as Columbus High's football coach. He met with his players and assistant coaches and told them his decision didn't have anything thing to do with them.
STARKVILLE -- If Monday was any indication of things to come for the Starkville Academy girls' basketball team, count on seeing plenty of front-court action. Freshman forward Sallie Kate Richardson scored 22 points and transfer forward Anna Lea Little scored 14 in the Lady Volunteers' 56-30 win against West Lowndes. With Starkville Academy losing forwards Anne Claire Craig and Maggie Gladney to graduation, having a pair of 5-foot-10 players to step in certainly doesn't hurt the rebuilding process, no matter their age.
R.J. Johnson has a big decision to make. Will the hard-throwing right hander turn professional after being drafted Tuesday by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 36th round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft? Or will he head to college?
Two sources Tuesday confirmed that former Nettleton and Hamilton High School head football coach Ricky Kendrick will be the head football coach at Caledonia High School. Kendrick and the sources declined to comment before Friday, when the hiring is expected to be approved by the Lowndes County School Board. Kendrick coached Hamilton to records of 3-7 in 2003 and 7-3 in 2002.
STARKVILLE -- Ja'nae Poe and Tarshayla Stephenson would love to continue to play volleyball in college. In the eight months since their high school volleyball careers ended, the Starkville and Columbus high school standouts have started to piece together the next phases of their lives. Next month, though, Poe and Stephenson will have what could be their final chance to make an impression on the volleyball court when they compete July 14 for the North team in the Mississippi Association of Coaches All-Star game.
The number of injuries to pitchers might not have happened like Brandon Johnson thought, but that doesn't mean plenty of lessons weren't learned in the 2010 high school baseball season. Johnson, a certified athletic trainer at Rehab at Work, a physical therapy clinic in Columbus, said at the beginning of the season that he saw a "potential for an increase in arm trouble" after the Mississippi High School Activities Association cut the amount of preparation time teams had before the start of the season.
Rachel Hollivay's goal is to become the best basketball player she can be. The 6-foot-5 junior also knows improved academic performance will help provide her with a solid foundation. Hollivay's desire to enhance her study habits recently led her and her family to explore transferring to other high schools in the area. After much consideration, the Hollivays decided Rachel would transfer from New Hope High School to Heritage Academy, a private school in Columbus.
Tradition-rich high school baseball programs New Hope and Hamilton will be well represented Saturday in the D.M. Howie Mississippi High School All-Star Baseball Games. Both schools will have two players take the field at Trustmark Park in Pearl for the games sponsored by the Crossroads Diamond Club. New Hope will be represented on the North squad by Jake Smith and Philip Tice in the Class 4A-5A-6A game at 1 p.m., while Hamilton's Dylan Earnest and Kevin McCartney will play for the North in the Class A-2A-3A game at 6 p.m.
It was Karoline Holsonback's ambition to be the best player she could be to help the South Lamar High School softball team win games. Holsonback realized her goal. The freshman catcher was instrumental in helping the Lady Stallions make it to the Final Four of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class A State Tournament this season.
Chase Davidson has seen Brach White make a difference in two years as the Pickens Academy baseball coach. Pickens Academy is 40-10 in two years, including 17-6 and making it to the second round of the Alabama Independent School Association Class AA state playoffs this season. "We've won 40 games in two years compared to us winning nine games in three years before he came so he's definitely helped us out," Davidson said. "He's taught us a lot about the game. "He keeps us fired up. He doesn't let us quit."
Athletes from West Point and Aberdeen Friday were recognized as players of the year, during a Dispatch party to celebrate the launch of a new sports magazine, Sports Review.
STARKVILLE -- Change is something Starkville Academy athletics became used to in 2009-10. Win-loss records, experience, head coaches, confidence, spirit -- all were affected greatly by a down year in boys athletics. The football and basketball programs managed one win between both seasons.
PEARL -- The approach is the same regardless of how many are out. It just so happens that two was the magic number Wednesday for the Richton High School baseball team. As a result, the Rebels will have to clear another space in their trophy case.
PEARL -- Pitchers don't always take the adage "you can't break a plane of glass" as a source of pride. Kameron Mills didn't mind Wednesday that the radar gun at Trustmark Park might have had difficulty measuring the speed of some of pitches.
HAMILTON -- Dylan Earnest and Chase Reeves want to write a different ending. For the past three seasons, Earnest and Reeves have seen their Hamilton High School baseball seasons end on the wrong note. In 2007, Hamilton lost to Gulfport St. John in two games in the Class 1A State title series. In 2008, Richton defeated Hamilton 6-5 in game three to take the Class 2A crown.
PEARL -- For three and a half innings Tuesday, the Hamilton High School baseball team looked like a squad that was going to defy the odds. Not only did the Lions put the controversy with Bruce High School behind them, but they also used a strong start by Dylan Earnest to quiet the Richton High School bats and take an early two-run lead. But one of the most unusual sequences in recent state title series history helped the Rebels tie the game and changed the momentum to put the Lions' season in jeopardy.
STARKVILLE -- With track and field season completed, Shay Bonner can look back on a prep career filled with multiple state meet memories. The Starkville High senior earned second- and third place laurels a year ago in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, respectively, and followed that with duplicate results in both events this year. Bonner felt her chances to win the 100 would be greater this year because she'd significantly improved her speed. She also ran a leg on the Lady Jackets' 4x400 and 4x200 relay teams.
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3. Walters column: Prep football season coming closer LOCAL COLUMNS