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.
CLINTON, La. -- As the sun was setting on the Oak Hill Academy baseball team's season Thursday, coach Marion Bratton watched his players pack their gear and head to the team buses. The Raiders had just lost to Silliman Institute 6-0 in Game 2 of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AA championship series. Silliman's players, coaches, friends, and family celebrated their championship in the background.
Home run hitters don't cherish the long ball. Ask them how many home runs they have hit in practice or in games and they're liable to tell you they don't know because they all run together. Will Godfrey doesn't have that problem because he isn't a home run hitter -- at least until Thursday night. That's when the junior catcher smacked a walk-off home run to left field in the seventh inning to lift the New Hope High School baseball team to a 1-0 victory against top-ranked Oxford in Game 2 of the best-of-three Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State championship series at Trojan Field.
Home run hitters don't cherish the long ball. Ask them how many home runs they have hit in practice or in games and they're liable to tell you they don't know because they all run together.
Tabitha Beard doesn't know how many tears she cried in the past few weeks trying to figure out how to wrestle with a legacy. When you play for and then follow a coach like Cary Shepherd, who helped establish New Hope High School softball as one of the state's premier programs, there is an undeniable weight involved in maintaining that tradition. After watching Shepherd win nine slow-pitch championships, Beard kept New Hope among the best in the state, guiding the program to five consecutive slow-pitch state titles from 2007-11 and leading the fast-pitch program to the Class 5A title series in 2012.
CALEDONIA -- The hat fits perfectly. A few days ago, Cole Gullette admits his hair looked a little "shaggy," so any hat, especially the one he will wear next, didn't feel just right. That's why the Caledonia High School senior infielder/pitcher planned stop at the barber shop Tuesday one day before his scheduled appointment to sign a National Letter of Intent to play baseball at Mississippi Valley State.
"Streaming." That's the best word to describe the flow of blood from Anthony Sharp's nose 20 minutes prior to the Victory Christian Academy baseball team's game against New Life Christian for the Alabama Christian Athletic Association championship. Pressure worked to stop the bleeding for a little bit, but it started again as the start of the game approached. Faced with the prospect of not being able to pitch in the biggest game of his team's season, Sharp did what any competitor would do: He stuffed napkins and Kleenex into his nostrils to stop the bleeding.
OXFORD -- The New Hope High School baseball team played potentially its best game of the season Tuesday night. Unfortunately, one swing turned its fortunes the wrong way. Ben Bianco's two-run, walk-off home run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning lifted top-ranked Oxford to a 3-2 win against New Hope in Game 1 of the best-of-three Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State championship playoff series at Edwin Moak Field.
WEST POINT -- Marion Bratton has been around long enough to know you're not going to beat many teams when you have only one hit. That's why the Oak Hill Academy baseball coach had to tip his cap to Jordan Talley on Tuesday after the senior right-hander pitched a complete-game one-hitter to lead Silliman Institute (La.) to a 4-1 victory in Game 1 of the best-of-three Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AA championship series.
WEST POINT -- The smile can't mask the emotion Brett Blaise feels for Marion Bratton. There are plenty stories Blaise could tell about his former baseball coach at Heritage Academy. Judging from the grin on Blaise's face, you can tell he believes it's best to keep those tales tucked away so his current "boss" at Oak Hill Academy doesn't revert to the form he remembers Bratton having when he led the Patriots.
When Lee Boyd was hired, the New Hope High School baseball program was looking to return to the state's elite. In his six seasons as head coach, the Trojans have climbed back to the top of mountain. Apparently, they plan to stay there. New Hope will face No. 1 Oxford tonight in Game 1 of the best-of-three Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State championship series. This team has shown Boyd has built a program with staying power.
STARKVILLE -- Kate Mattox strives for perfection. That is why some parts of the track and field season for this Starkville High School sophomore have been a disappointment. "I really want to always get better," Mattox said. "This season has been difficult. I feel like I haven't performed as well as I wanted to. I was behind some of my personal times. That is really when my sisters and my teammates have picked me up. They have kept me encouraged through the good and the bad times."
WEST POINT -- There are so many pieces needed to have success in the playoffs. While there was plenty of timely hitting and fielding in the Oak Hill Academy baseball team's second come-from-behind series victory in a row in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AA last week, the Raiders also received two dominating pitching performances to help it win the North State title.
It's time for the New Hope High School baseball team to take the next step. Granted, this one will be the team's toughest. New Hope (24-5) will play for the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State championship for the fourth-straight season. Top-ranked Oxford (31-0) will be the opponent when the best-of-three series kicks off at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Edwin Moak Field in Oxford. Game 2 will be at 7 p.m. Friday at New Hope. If needed, Game 3 would be at 7 p.m. Saturday in Oxford.
WEST POINT -- Frozen between second and third base, Ken Dill knew he better make a decision quickly. If you have seen the Oak Hill Academy baseball team play this season, it shouldn't be difficult to figure out which way Dill decided to go. True to the Raiders' aggressive style of play, Dill went to his right to third base, even though Prairie View catcher Nolan Wharton had scooped the pitch in the dirt and was holding the baseball with Dill in his sights.
HAMILTON -- Ray Weeks never forgot the words. After more than 20 years as a coach, Weeks always kept the advice of Jerry Crowe, his first coaching boss at Bayou Academy in Cleveland, somewhere in the back of his mind to help him stay grounded. "You will know when it is the right time" to step aside," Crowe said, undoubtedly in one of those teaching moments veteran coaches have with young coaches.
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