STARKVILLE — Just one week away from opening day, Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen is anxious to see how his team takes shape. With a recruiting class ranked eighth-best in the nation by Baseball America, Cohen and his staff reeled in some of the best pitching prospects in hopes of shoring up the biggest weak spot of the Bulldogs’ 25-29 campaign in 2009. Cohen spoke at length about the new look of his team during a preseason press conference Thursday. Words like “exciting” and “potential” were used to describe the squad he’ll send out next Friday in the season-opener against Rhode Island.
STARKVILLE — Building on last year’s success, Al Schmidt and the Mississippi State track teams have seen immediate results on the recruiting trail. MSU’s men added another top-notch sprinter this week with the signing of Alabama prep sprinter James Harris. Harris won the open 400-meter event at the 2009 Junior Olympics and chose MSU over Texas A&M and LSU. MSU also added seven distance runners to the fold Wednesday, including Alabama Gatorade Cross Country Athlete of the Year Nathan Lewis, who won three state titles in his prep career.
STARKVILLE — Back home after playing four of its past five games on the road, the Mississippi State men’s basketball team faces desperate times. During that span MSU (16-7, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) has lost four games — all on the road — ahead of a tip at 8 tonight against the University of Mississippi (17-6, 5-4) at Humphrey Coliseum.
STARKVILLE — Misty Flesher doesn’t like to sit still. She also doesn’t like to do nothing, so imagine her predicament when she encountered more pain in her shoulder at the start of the 2009 season and ultimately was forced to shut it down after only appearing in four games.
STARKVILLE — Now is the time for separation. Eleven years ago, the Mississippi State women’s basketball was 4-5 and right in the middle of the Southeastern Conference pack with five league games remaining.
A season ago, the Southeastern Conference had three teams make the men’s NCAA tournament. A stacked SEC East may change that this season. With Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt all ranked in the top 25 of the ESPN/USA Today and Associated Press polls, the East is in decent shape to send three, maybe more, to the tournament. The disparity between the East and West this season is glaring, as the East holds a 17-4 edge against West opponents this season. Plus, all of the SEC’s ranked teams are in the East.
STARKVILLE — Tysheka Grimes nearly returned to the lineup in style Sunday afternoon. After missing the past 10 games with a plantar fasciitis tear in her right foot, the senior guard/forward drained a 3-pointer with 33 seconds remaining in the first overtime against the University of Florida. The trey gave the Lady Bulldogs a 69-68 lead, only to see Florida’s Lonnika Thompson answer with a 3-pointer of her own. MSU’s Alexis Rack made two free throws with seven seconds left to play to help send the game to a second overtime, where Florida eventually outlasted the Lady Bulldogs 82-80.
For much of the season, April Sykes’ shooting has been as cold as the frigid and snowy weather in Piscataway, N.J. The 6-foot sophomore guard/forward on the Rutgers University women’s basketball team is shooting just 29 percent entering a home game tonight against Seton Hall. Sykes, a 2008 graduate of East Oktibbeha High School in Crawford, has struggled of late, making 1 of 5 shots against South Florida on Saturday and missing all 10 of her attempts the previous game against Notre Dame.
Building Mississippi State University football never stops for Dan Mullen, not even thousands of feet in the air.
STARKVILLE — Another Rick Stansbury media gathering went by Monday with the Mississippi State University men’s basketball coach feeling pretty much the same about his team’s progression and the tools he has to work with.
STARKVILLE — Rima Kalonda isn’t as smooth as Armelie Lumanu. Kalonda also doesn’t have the silky shooting touch or the shot-blocker’s reach of Chanel Mokango. But just because Kalonda has different strengths than her Mississippi State women’s basketball teammates doesn’t mean she isn’t playing a key role in the team’s success.
STARKVILLE — The numbers are staggering. For three seasons, Chelsea Bramlett has laid waste to Mississippi State softball records. As a junior last season, Bramlett established new single-season marks for batting average (.486) and stolen bases (54). In the process, she became the school’s career leader in each category (.438, 146) to add to the fact she already is MSU’s leader in stolen bases percentage (.913), stolen bases per game (0.82), and runs per game (0.92). It’s scary to think even more marks — including NCAA records — could fall this year.
STARKVILLE –– With Friday’s revelation that Mississippi State will petition for Renardo Sidney’s reinstatement instead of appealing the NCAA’s findings on the freshman forward’s amateur status, all that’s left now is for the NCAA to decide what Sidney’s punishment will be. First reported by The Clarion Ledger on Friday, Don Jackson said MSU has moved forward by petitioning the NCAA to reinstate its McDonald’s High School All-American. Mississippi State associate athletic director for compliance Bracky Brett declined comment Saturday.
STARKVILLE — Some folks might differ about the talent in the state of Mississippi, but that suits Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen just fine. Even though rival Ole Miss and MSU virtually split the state’s top 10 recruits, Mullen stepped to the podium Wednesday at the Bryan Athletic Building and repeated what he said at this time last year. “For the second year in a row we’ve recruited 16 high school players from the state of Mississippi, which is more than Southern Miss and the school up north (Ole Miss) combined this year,” Mullen said. “That’s the foundation of our program, recruiting high school players from the state of Mississippi.”
STARKVILLE –– The next step in the Renardo Sidney case is in Mississippi State’s court. Thursday, Sidney attorney Don Jackson forwarded the AMA’s analysis of the NCAA’s Fact Finding Committee’s conclusion. Though most of the findings resulted in what Jackson estimated to be “less than $1,000,” his concern over his client being pegged with a violation of NCAA Bylaw 10.1-(d) was evident when reached Thursday for comment.
STARKVILLE — Some nights you just have to try something else. As shooters go, Alexis Rack has the right mind-set. She takes the court with a swagger and hands at ready to launch daggers from any spot on the court. Usually, the Mississippi State senior prefers to fire away from 3-point range, and those attempts often spark the Lady Bulldogs. But nights like Thursday — when even the easiest look at the basket proves frustrating — have come few and far between this season.
A chance to make history was too much to pass up for Khiry Karriem. That’s why the Itawamba Community College standout decided Wednesday to sign a National Letter of Intent to play football for Georgia State. The Panthers, under the leadership of former University of Alabama, Georgia Tech, and Kentucky coach and ESPN analyst Bill Curry, will kick off their inaugural season later this year. The team will play its home games in the Georgia Dome, the home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
Billy Autrey knew he was going to have to make a decision. Unfortunately, that choice was going to spell the end for one sport and the continuation of another. Autrey’s decision Wednesday to sign a National Letter of Intent to play football at the University of Alabama at Birmingham signified the realization of a dream. Following a strong freshman season on the offensive line at East Mississippi Community College, the former Columbus High standout will have an opportunity to realize his goal of competing at the Division I level.
STARKVILLE –– Dudy Gras just keeps getting bigger, and Mississippi State baseball John Cohen is enjoying every minute of it. The annual parade celebrates the start of MSU’s baseball season, but organizers have taken it to a new level for this year’s edition. In addition to the annual parade that’s marched through Starkville and to Left Field Lounge at Dudy Noble Field, there will be a first-ever Dudy Gras Ball at the conclusion of “Eight Days of Dudy Gras” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Hilton Garden Inn.
STARKVILLE — With a core group of All-Americans, the Mississippi State men’s track team is all about exposure these days. After a nationally televised 4x400-meter relay win (3 minutes, 19.44 seconds) at the Millrose Games on Jan. 29, the Bulldogs made a statement for the upcoming Southeastern Conference season. With a potential Top 10 team and six All-Americans, though, MSU coach Al Schmidt is thinking on a grander scale.
3. Mixed reaction to decision to move MHSAA football title games HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Heritage Academy softball will try to take next step HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS