STARKVILLE -- R.J. Johnson's remarkable senior season started with a commitment to make up for his junior year. The Starkville High graduate had the size, athleticism, and arm strength to be one of the state's top players. He knew it, and his coaches saw that potential years before the Milwaukee Brewers selected him earlier this month in the 36th round of Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Freshmen are lucky to have an impact in a game, much less a season. But not every freshman is built the same way. Some surprise and become the team's best player. Meet Lauren Holifield.
Armed with two dominant pitchers, Tabitha Beard entered her fourth season in charge of New Hope High School fast-pitch softball looking to add a state title to the slow-pitch hardware the Lady Trojans have added since 2006.
Brent Younger remained focused. While longtime teammates were deciding on schools nearly every month, Younger believed that years of training and work on the baseball field would pay off.
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.
1. Offensive line plays key role for Starkville Academy HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Injury to Market means Bryant will play bigger role COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Confidence will help Nevitt make her mark COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Central Academy's Robbins has no trouble in clutch HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. No. 6 EMCC rolls past Holmes C.C. COLLEGE SPORTS