When New Hope High School started its 2015 baseball season, senior Josh Stillman knew the Trojans had tradition.
WEST POINT -- The stories have blended into each other throughout the years.
Jeffrey Bryan Dean was ready for a new challenge two years ago. Dean's Letcher County Central (Ky.) High School baseball team was coming off a trip to the state tournament and a 29-win season. In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, which doesn't have size classifications to separate smaller schools from larger ones, it was natural for Dean's success with the Cougars attracted attention and earned him interest from other schools that were looking for a baseball coach.
Under the leadership of outgoing Athletic Director Dr. Stan Miller, Starkville High School has quickly become one of the elite programs in the Mississippi High School Activities Association.
Mary Virginia "Gigi" Fields has been playing tennis for only three years. But it takes only a few seconds before the Heritage Academy rising freshman offers an important qualifier. "(It has been) two years seriously," Fields said. That's not a lot of time in any sport, but Fields' use of "seriously" shows how her thinking toward the sport changed following a conversation with Heritage Academy tennis coach Billy Clark. The talk came prior to Fields' seventh-grade year, which was her first season on the team.
STARKVILLE -- Officially, Tuesday morning's event at Starkville High School was listed as an introductory news conference for the Yellow Jackets' new athletic director and football coach. For Milton Smith, it was a homecoming. Smith, a 1986 graduate of Starkville High who spent 13 seasons as football coach at Laurel High, was welcomed back as Starkville High's athletic director. He was introduced with Ricky Woods, the school's new football coach.
STARKVILLE -- New Starkville High School football coach Ricky Woods sees his latest career stop ending in one of two ways. "They will either fire me or retire me," Woods said. While the comment was made in jest, Woods used his introductory news conference at the Starkville Athletic Center to bring home the point that this would be the last job of his highly decorated coaching career.
STARKVILLE -- It's now official.
Eric Crawford II had worked too hard in pursuit of his dream to play college baseball not to continue to believe.
STARKVILLE -- Around the Starkville High School football program, the news traveled fast Thursday afternoon.
The Columbus Municipal School District is moving ahead with plans to fill several coaching vacancies at Columbus High School.
Lee Boyd is fond of saying the New Hope High School baseball team always has to have one guy step up. Will Godfrey took that notion to heart last week in one of the Trojans' biggest moments of the season. Locked in a scoreless tie with Oxford in the bottom of the seventh inning in Game 2 of their Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State title series, Godfrey turned on a fastball middle in and smacked it over the left-field fence to lift New Hope to a 1-0 walk-off victory. The win helped New Hope force a winner-take-all Game 3 in Oxford that originally was scheduled for Friday, but rain forced it to be delayed until Saturday. In Game 3, Oxford earned a 10-3 victory that ended New Hope's season and its quest for a third-straight Class 5A championship.
Brent Harris didn't want Anthony Sharp to become complacent. With multi-sport standouts Landon Ellis and Tyler Jones set to graduate from Victory Christian Academy, Harris knew no other way to get his point across to Sharp than to challenge the rising sophomore.
STARKVILLE -- It's fitting the Wilson black and white volleyball shared center stage Friday. Nestled in front of an iron Yellow Jacket welded onto a base that is a cutout of the state of Mississippi, the volleyball had an ideal vantage point to celebrate Vicky Vo's hard work.
OXFORD -- Through two games in their Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State championship series, the New Hope and Oxford high school baseball teams traded thrilling wins, alternating walk-off victories. First, the Chargers celebrated thanks to a game-winning, two-run home run by Ben Bianco for a 3-2 win in Game 1 Tuesday night. On Thursday night, the Trojans countered with a game-winner of their own, a solo home run by junior catcher Will Godfrey that gave new Hope a 1-0 win and pushed the series to a Game 3. There wasn't a walk-off in the finale.
Laura Lee Holman has a new challenge. The fact that it will take her four hours away from New Hope High School, where she played for state titles and led teams in pursuit of championships, was a daunting proposition, but Holman decided last week that it was one worth taking because it will help push her to be an even better coach. Last Friday, Holman resigned from her job as physical education teacher and girls basketball/volleyball coach at New Hope High to take a job as girls PE teacher and girls basketball coach at North Pike High in Summit in Pike County. Summit is about 75 miles south of Jackson and about 100 miles south of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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