It has been 30 years since his first visit to Mississippi State’s Dudy Noble Field, but LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri said his return this weekend is special. Mainieri’s first experience at the Bulldogs’ home came in 1979 as a player at the University of New Orleans. The Privateers played in the NCAA tournament in Starkville that season. Mainieri’s relationship with the MSU fans took a positive turn in 2000 when he was the head coach at Notre Dame.
STARKVILLE — Softball is serious business in Florida. No one knows that better than Mississippi State sophomore outfielder Brittany Bell. While growing up in the Tampa area, Bell discovered how important the game was in the Sunshine State. Bell will accompany her Lady Bulldogs teammates to her home state this weekend for the NCAA tournament’s Tallahassee Regional. MSU will play California in the first round at 4 p.m. Friday. Florida State will play host to the double-elimination regional.
William Beckwith picked a good time to start swinging a hot bat for the Meridian Community College baseball team. Beckwith, a 2008 graduate of West Lowndes High School, went 12-for-18 with eight RBIs in four games to help MCC win the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament at Baton Rouge, La., last weekend. “I’d been waiting for that to happen,” Beckwith said of getting hot at the plate. “It felt great because I was helping my team get wins. (The ball looked) like a beach ball. It was a great feeling.”
Garrett Harris is looking forward to pitching for the University of South Alabama baseball team. But before he does, his focus is on taking care of unfinished business at Meridian Community College. Harris, a 2006 graduate of New Hope High School who has signed with South Alabama, welcomes an opportunity to pitch for MCC in the NJCAA South Central District Tournament.
Ladarrius Cole arrived at Itawamba Community College just wanting to contribute. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound outfielder from Nettleton High School has done much more than that, and the Indians are reaping the benefits. Cole, who leads the team with a .456 batting average, was one of a handful of players chosen to the All-Region 23 squad on Wednesday. Cole, Pontotoc’s Dustin Lunn (catcher), Auburn signee Justin Bryant (middle infielder), of Remlap, Ala,. and pitcher/second baseman Josh Chism were selected to the first team all-state squad.
STARKVILLE — Mississippi State’s men’s basketball program received good news Monday about a big man for the third week in a row. After the signing of Renardo Sidney and the addition of John Riek, the Bulldogs learned Monday that center Jarvis Varnado plans to return for his senior season.
Jasmine Abrams has her eyes set on higher goals. Her two seasons with the East Mississippi Community College women’s basketball team have made those aspirations more realistic. Now the former Columbus High School standout plans to take her game to the Division I level in hopes of taking the next step toward realizing her goal to play professional basketball. On Tuesday, Abrams, a 6-foot forward, signed a national letter of intent to play basketball in the fall at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
The University of Mississippi baseball team has been known to unleash its “Power” on opponents the past four seasons. As outfielder Logan Power has driven in runs, it has usually led to success for Ole Miss. Since his arrival in 2006, Power has helped the Rebels to a four-season record of 159-86, trips to three NCAA Regionals, and appearances in two Super Regionals.
Mississippi State considers the new three-game contract to play South Alabama in football a win-win situation for both parties. Considering the economics and benefits for the Bulldogs, the deal was too good for the school to pass up.
STARKVILLE — Signed, sealed, and delivered. The much anticipated paperwork confirming the signing of 7-foot-2 center John Riek reached the Mississippi State men’s basketball office Wednesday afternoon.
It’s difficult enough for an athlete to come back from one torn labrum. Mississippi State freshman outfielder Brent Brownlee has suffered that injury three times, and has had to have surgery on each occasion.
Mississippi State men’s basketball coach Rick Stansbury understands that there is no such thing anymore as a quiet offseason. This year, it seems to be louder than usual. First, junior center Jarvis Varnado applied for early entry into the National Basketball Association draft. Then this past Thursday, Mississippi State signed McDonald’s All-American Renardo Sidney, from Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. Now it looks like Mississippi State is on the verge of signing 7-foot-2 center John Riek, of Khartoun, Sudan, via IMG Basketball Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Travis Frembgen was accustomed to being the starting catcher for five years on the Hamilton High School baseball team. But a year after graduating from Hamilton, Frembgen is learning what it means to have patience as a freshman backup catcher to sophomore Dustin Lunn at Itawamba Community College in Fulton. “I’m day-to-day, basically,” Frembgen said. “I didn’t play in many division games, but the guy in front of me does great behind the plate, and he’s a good hitter, also. “I’m just waiting my turn. I know I probably could have started at other junior colleges, but I’m happy I’m here.”
STARKVILLE — Getting Renardo Sidney on the basketball court at Mississippi State might be more difficult than the Bulldogs anticipated. MSU will use sports attorney Mike Glazier to evaluate Sidney’s amateur status.
The University of Alabama baseball team’s offense is intimidating when you look at the numbers. Alabama leads the Southeastern Conference in batting average (.338), hits (550), slugging percentage (.592), on-base percentage (.423), runs scored (423), RBIs (394), doubles (116), and total bases (963). When Mississippi State plays host to Alabama in a three-game SEC series at 6:30 p.m. today, 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, the Bulldogs primary task will be to try to hold down that offense.
Mississippi State’s basketball program might not have a “Varnado” next season, but it will have a “Renardo.” Renardo Sidney, a McDonald’s All-American from Fairfax High School in Los Angeles and the nation’s No. 7 prospect in the country according to ESPN’s Scout’s Inc., signed Thursday afternoon with Mississippi State. MSU spokesman Gregg Ellis confirmed the signing, which ended a week of speculation about Sidney’s destination.
The Road Dawgs Tour is getting closer to Columbus. Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen and other members of the athletic department are making plans to make their Lowndes County appearance at the Plymouth Bluff Center on Monday. It’s one of the stops Mullen is making among 16 cities across the Southeast. Anyone wanting to attend must purchase their $15 tickets by today at Coldwell Banker West Realty or BankFirst in Columbus.
It was tempting for Mississippi State track jumper Priscilla Gaines to participate Saturday at the Mississippi Open in Oxford. After reaching a season-high and regional qualifying long jump of 19 feet, 8 inches at the Mississippi Invitational on April 11, the chance for more success there was inviting. But Gaines has something more important to do Saturday.
A fast start Monday on day one of the 2009 NJCAA Region 23 Golf Championship proved to be elusive for Hal Larkin. Birdies on three of the first five holes gave the former Caledonia High School golf standout reason to believe he could secure a trip to the NJCAA National Championship. But Larkin’s early momentum evaporated.
Nashedra Barry likes to stay busy. In addition to the time she spends with the Columbus High School girls basketball and slow- and fast-pitch softball teams, the senior standout is involved in a host of clubs and other extra-curricular activities.
1. Starkville beats Madison Central for fourth straight shutout HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. No. 1 MSU begins preparations for Kentucky COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Alabama shines with looser mind-set COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Ole Miss will rely on defense COLLEGE SPORTS
5. New Hope softball escapes quicksand at Warren Central HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS