GRENADA ---- Josh Neal and Octavian Stallings combined on a three-hitter Thursday to pitch the Columbus Xplosion past the Mathiston All-Stars 14-2 in the Dizzy Dean 10-year old South State Tournament. Neal allowed one hit and struck out five in two innings and Stallings gave up two hits and fanned four in two innings as Columbus won by the 10-run mercy rule in four innings. Neal and Stallings were backed by a seven-hit attack, led by Jeremy Tate with an RBI triple and single. Also contributing were Cade Odom and Nathan Wilson with a double each, Neal with a single and two RBIs, and Leo Bell and Cody Bolin with a single each.
When it came time to select all-stars, coaches in the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority 11-12-year old baseball league decided to form two teams. As a result, Columbus will have two teams in the Dizzy Dean 11-12-year old South State Tournament at Winona this weekend. The Columbus American All-Stars and Columbus National All-Stars will be among 17 teams that will begin play Thursday in the South State Tournament.
During the summer as the coach of the Columbus Dental Yankees in the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority 10-year old baseball league, Bruce Neal didn't know what it was like to lose a game. Neal coached the Yankees to the league championship with an unblemished 15-0 record. "I asked the park how long it has been since a 10-year old team has gone undefeated and they couldn't tell me," Neal said. "They can't tell me how long it has been since that happened or if it's happened."
The Columbus All-Stars won't have to rely on a scouting report for their opening game in the Dizzy Dean Baseball 8-year old South State Tournament. Columbus will play an opponent its familiar with when it takes the field for its opener at noon Thursday at Winona. Columbus will get a chance to redeen itself when it plays Caledonia, which it recently lost to in a warmup tournament.
EUPORA __ The Columbus American All-Stars hit the ball Thursday the way coach Kelvin Smith believed they could. The Americans smacked the ball to win their first two games in the Dizzy Dean 7-year old South State Tournament, beating East Central 24-2 and Louisville 25-3. "We're having fun," Smith said. "We're trying to go all the way." The American are scheduled to play at 5:30 p.m. today against the Columbus National All-Stars, who beat Eupora 26-5 on Thursday.
As a pitcher in high school and college, it was Andy Brown's objective to throw pitches the batters couldn't hit. Brown has an entirely different mindset now that he's a coach in the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority coach-pitch league. Brown, a 1995 graduate of Columbus High School who pitched at East Mississippi Community College, wants to place his pitches where his players can hit the ball. The 33-year old Brown hopes to be successful doing that when he coaches the Columbus National All-Stars in the Dizzy Dean 7-year old South State Tournament at Eupora.
The Columbus All-Stars will attempt to make their best pitch when they play in the Dizzy Dean 9-year old South State Tournament. Columbus coach Chad Altmyer is counting on pitching when his team plays in the tournament at Winona. "I think we have a very good group that's very competitive," Altmyer said. "I think it will depend on our pitching. As with 9-year olds, consistency is always the key. If we can be consistent on the pitchers' mound, I think we'll have a good shot to do really well." Columbus begins play in the tournament at 2 p.m. today when it goes against Winona.
One run was all that prevented West Point from playing in championship game of the Dizzy Dean High School World Series. West Point came up short in its bid to make it to today's championship game at Columbus High School's Sammy Fletcher Field by suffering a 5-4 setback to Center Hill in the semifinals. Center Hill will play for the championship at 6 p.m. today when it meets Neshoba Central.
The bigger-than-life portraits are gone from behind home plate, but the tradition remains. History -- in the form of signs on the outfield wall -- greets visitors once they enter Trojan Field. Beginning from the left-field corner and stretching around the field to the right-field corner, the yellow signs chart the success and the records of past New Hope teams. Members of the 2011 New Hope High School team hope one day to add to that tradition.
The rapport between a pitcher and his catcher is the most important relationship in baseball. The pitcher has to trust his partner behind the plate not only to call the right pitch, but he also has to believe his teammate behind the mask will stop whatever he throws. A catcher's job can be thankless. It requires toiling in the dirt and taking a beating from foul tips and pitches that fall just a little short of their intended mark.
CALEDONIA -- Caledonia and Ridgeland are at different points on the baseball spectrum. The Confederates have struggled to escape district competition the past few years, while the Titans have built their baseball program into one of the best in state. Last month, Ridgeland finished as the runner-up to Long Beach in Class 5A.
It may be summer ball, but Buddy Wyers is adamant West Point's progression to today's elite eight of the Dizzy Dean World Series will pay off in the spring. West Point, which improved to 10-14, will play at 4 p.m. today at Columbus High School's Sam Fletcher Field after topping Columbus 4-2 and Tupelo 19-2 on Friday. Despite a 12-2 loss to Neshoba Central on Saturday, West Point won its pool on a rain-soaked day that saw the site moved from West Point to Heritage Academy.
Starkville Acadedmy's three Dizzy Dean World Series losses this weekend ended its chances of progressing to today's elite eight. The young squad began Saturday's doubleheader with an 11-4 rain-soaked loss to Neshoba Central, which saw the entire West Point site shift to Heritage Academy Saturday due to rain and lightning. Starkville Academy's final Dizzy Dean game against West Point was not finished before press time.
Four years of patrolling the paint for Mississippi State culminated in a dream come true for Jarvis Varnado on Thursday. The 6-foot-9 shot-blocking specialist realized a dream by being selected in the second round of the NBA Draft by the Miami Heat. The Heat, a playoff team a year ago, took Varnado with the 41st overall pick. The team didn't have a first-round selection.
Jeffrey Cook can focus today on baseball. That will be fine for the Columbus High School baseball coach, who spent Wednesday night hashing out a handful of brackets in anticipation of the Dizzy Dean High School World Series. When Cook gathered the 14- and 15-team brackets for Thursday's welcoming meeting for the annual event, they quickly became scrap paper.
DENVER -- Seth Smith is like any major leaguer that wants to play every game. But relegated to a reserve role with an occasional start, the objective of the Colorado Rockies' outfielder is to contribute whenever he's called upon The 27-year old Smith, who played at Ole Miss from 2002-04, has produced when given the chance to play as he's tied for the team lead in homers (10) and tied for second in RBIs (31).
STARKVILLE -- Anthony Alford has heard the talk. The rising junior at Petal High School is a standout quarterback who is considered a college prospect. But Alford is attracting even more attention for his exploits on the diamond.
Thomas Velek can't help but smile. In five days, Velek and the rest of the world will watch as the World Cup begins in South Africa. The United States Men's National Team will play England in its first game Saturday in what it hopes will be a month filled with excitement. Velek, who is a professor at the Mississippi University for Women, has another reason to be proud as the world's biggest sporting event begins. As competitive director for the Columbus United Soccer Club, Velek can look back with pride at how Columbus teams fared in the third year of competitive soccer in the city and in the club's second season.
STARKVILLE -- In an effort to spark youth interest in tennis, Starkville Tennis Association is beginning a program that's been in the works for the past three years. Quick Start, a United States Tennis Association program, is aimed at giving children 10-years old and younger the chance to learn the sport using modified scoring, special equipment and smaller court dimensions. With solid tennis infrastructure in Starkville, Quick Start will help strengthen area tennis by making the game more appealing for youth.
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