Today, The Dispatch presents its annual All-Area Prep Basketball Players and Coaches of the Year.
In 2011, Ole Miss brought prestige to the state when it played host to the Southeastern Conference softball tournament for the first time. Ole Miss spent more than $1 million in renovations to prepare its stadium for the eight-team tournament after it had passed on earlier invitations to serve as tournament host. The enthusiasm was dampened, however, when the home team won three conference games and failed to qualify for the event. This season, the roles were reversed. Mississippi State made the field as the last of the 12 seeds.
In the summer of 2013, the world of college softball was surprised to learn Clint Myers was leaving the Arizona State softball program to take over as head coach at Auburn. In eight seasons as head coach of the Sun Devils, Myers had led his alma mater to seven Women's College World Series appearances and two national championships.
STARKVILLE -- Southeastern Conference fans like to beat their chests year round about playing in the best football conference in the nation.
Television personalities Beth Mowins, Michele Smith, and Kayla Braud held a spirited debate Sunday about the merits of Florida's Tim Walton and Kentucky's Rachel Lawson being named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year during the SEC Network's coverage of softball.
What a ride. The Mississippi State women's basketball team arrived back in Starkville on Saturday with the carnage of a 98-38 loss to three-time reigning national champion Connecticut fresh on its mind.
The target was on the back of the Columbus High School boys basketball team from the day Luther Riley was hired.
The Mississippi State softball team will play important games against Southeastern Louisiana (tonight) and Central Arkansas (Wednesday, SEC Network) at Nusz Park. While the MSU-SLU and MSU-UCA games won't determine bids to the Women's College World Series, both are big for the Bulldogs. MSU is 19-8 and 1-2 in the Southeastern Conference after winning one of three league games against No. 3 Auburn last weekend. In the first Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) figures released by the NCAA on Monday, MSU checked in at No. 31. That number will be more than sufficient for MSU to earn a fifth-straight regional berth under fifth-year coach Vann Stuedeman.
Roughly 15 minutes after Mississippi State point guard Morgan William dribbled away the final frantic seconds and heaved the ball into the air as a roaring crowd of 7,094 at Humphrey Coliseum erupted in celebration of a 74-72 victory against Michigan State, Spartans' coach Suzy Merchant sat before her post-game press conference with a glum trio of players.
The awards continue to roll in for the Mississippi State women's basketball team. On Tuesday, sophomore Victoria Vivians and junior Dominique Dillingham were named to The Associated Press' All-Southeastern Conference team. Vivians, the Bulldogs' leading scorer at 17.2 points per game, earned first-team honors, while Dillingham, who leads the team with 49 charges taken, received honorable mention accolades. The honors were the latest to come in another history-making season that will continue at 1:30 p.m. Friday (ESPN2) when No. 5 seed MSU (26-7) plays host to No. 12 seed Chattanooga (24-7) in the first round of the NCAA tournament's Bridgeport Regional at Humphrey Coliseum.
It appears to be a number's game at this point for the Mississippi State women's basketball team.
Glenn Schmidt always believed a career in coaching would be fulfilling. Turns out her 39-year coaching career was that and then some. After 13 seasons at Starkville Academy, Schmidt informed the Board of Trustees at the school last week she was retiring and wouldn't return as girls basketball coach and athletic director.
It's time for the Southeastern Conference to pick a site for its annual women's basketball tournament. By the time most of your read this, the first games in this year's event in Jacksonville, Florida -- Alabama vs. LSU and Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt -- already will have been played. The five-day marathon comes on the heels of a 16-game regular season that seeded all 14 teams for the chance to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Jacksonville is the 14th city to play host to the marquee event for what remains one of the nation's best women's basketball conferences. An event of this magnitude deserves a site that will show it off and a fan base that will create a great environment for the all of the games.
The stretch run is here, and the Mississippi State women's basketball team is poised to add a new entry to another history-making season.
STARKVILLE A few weeks ago, ESPN.com's Charlie Creme called the Mississippi State women's basketball team's 65-63 overtime victory against Tennessee a "season-saver." It didn't matter that the win was MSU's first in 37 meetings against Tennessee. Creme was more concerned about how the victory bolstered the Bulldogs' resume for NCAA tournament consideration. As ESPN's women's basketball "bracketologist," Creme believed the win solidified MSU's standing to earn one of the top 16 seeds and a chance to play host to the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.
The games count for real now. For the past two decades, the Mississippi State softball team has been a model of consistency. On an annual basis, the team has won more games than it lost and, more often than not, has made postseason play. It has earned a few national rankings, but it hasn't reached elite status in the Southeastern Conference.
Tyrone Shorter sets the tone in every way for the Noxubee County High School football team. Whether it's his desire to keep the program's field house spotless or his edict that his players wear a buttoned-down shirt, a tie, and a blazer on Fridays during the season, Shorter wants his players to look and to act like one of the top programs in the state of Mississippi.
STARKVILLE At 8:25 p.m. on Wednesday April 15, the Mississippi State women's basketball team officially became the hunted. On that night, MSU coach Vic Schaefer said to the crowd at the team's annual banquet that the Bulldogs would face a different road in 2015-16. In many ways, the 2014-15 season was a coming out party for MSU. It rode wins over Mercer, Arkansas State, West Virginia, and Western Kentucky to a Preseason Women's National Invitation Tournament title that served notice to the rest of the nation. Those victories were part of an 18-0 start that helped the Bulldogs climb back into the national rankings and sent them on their way to a return trip to the NCAA tournament.
"Season saver" and "gauntlet" carry extra meaning with a month to go before the Southeastern Conference women's basketball tournament.
It's time. Coming off a strong performance in front of a record crowd at Humphrey Coliseum, there would be no better way for the Mississippi State women's basketball team to take the next step than to make more history Thursday night. On Sunday, then-No. 10 MSU lost to No. 2 South Carolina 57-51 before a crowd of 10,626, which exceeded the listed capacity of Humphrey Coliseum by 126. The crowd was the biggest in MSU's history, the largest to see a women's basketball game in the state of Mississippi, and the fourth-largest in the history of the Hump.
1. Williams emerges as force for Starkville High's defense HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Calvert fuels West Point's ground assault HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. Couch wants to make most of his chances at WR COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Starkville Academy will try to clinch district title HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. Kentucky top pick in SEC again COLLEGE SPORTS