Hilton Gibson and the New Hope High School baseball team haven’t had a perfect season. Routine plays haven’t been made, pitchers have missed locations, and hitters haven’t delivered in clutch situations. In many ways, New Hope’s season hasn’t been any different than countless other teams across the nation. But what the Trojans haven’t done has made them stronger.
MABEN — Jermaine Liggins’ nickname doesn’t do him justice. Growing up, Liggins earned the moniker “half pint” because of his size. Liggins has matured into a senior leader for the East Webster High School baseball team, and the ping of the baseball off his bat sounds more like someone nicknamed “pint.” Liggins and classmates Blake Love and Reggie O’Briant are just three of the hard-hitting Wolverines who will lead the team Thursday into its best-of-three Class 1A playoff series against Bogue Chitto.
HAMILTON — One bad game was all the Hamilton High School fast-pitch softball team needed. A missed opportunity, an error, or a pitch in the wrong spot could have have ended the Lady Lions’ season too soon. But faced with the prospect of turning in their jerseys for the final time, Hamilton responded and appears to have rediscovered its rhythm. Hamilton (13-10) will try to keep its run going Thursday when it travels to Hatley for game one in the best-of-three series that will determine the Class 2A North Half state champion.
MABEN — A clean uniform just doesn’t feel right to Swayze Hollenhead. The East Webster High School fast-pitch softball standout considers it a badge of honor if she can soil her school colors with a dive to knock down a line drive or a slide into second base to beat a throw. If you have seen the sophomore third baseman play, you know she’s apt to have several layers of the infield on her uniform by the end of a game. Each day, though, Hollenhead washes that dirt from her clothes and returns to practice and games to do it all over again.
STEENS — A new football season has brought a new sense of excitement at Immanuel Christian School. The Immanuel players have two more reasons to look forward to the 2009 season: Shawn Gates and Daniel Merchant. Gates and Merchant took the field Tuesday looking to bring a new energy to the football program on its first day of spring workouts. Gates, 24, takes over for Billy Thomas as the football team’s new coach, while Merchant, who was an assistant football coach at the school last season, will work as defensive coordinator and special teams coach.
STARKVILLE –– The Mississippi State athletic department has acknowledged its football program violated an NCAA bylaw April 10 when former coach Jackie Sherrill visited a spring football practice session. The school has self-reported the secondary violation of NCAA bylaw 184.108.40.206.1.4 regarding the use of outside consultants when Sherrill was seen working with Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen and the kickers to the Southeastern Conference. A letter was sent Tuesday by MSU Associate Athletic Director of Compliance Bracky Brett to SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.
Dan Mullen, Lane Kiffin, and Gene Chizik all have been assigned the same task. The men are in charge of returning three Southeastern Conference football teams to winning ways. Mississippi State, Auburn, and Tennessee all participated in and won bowl games in 2007, but failed in its quests to record winning seasons in 2008.
In her first season at Birmingham-Southern College, Tori Harris helped the softball program reach new heights. Birmingham-Southern ended its season Sunday with the best record in school history. Birmingham-Southern, ranked No. 17 nationally, swept a doubleheader from Hendrix College to finish the season 32-5 for an .865 winning percentage. Harris, a 2006 graduate of New Hope High School, contributed to that success as a junior pitcher and third baseman.
MABEN — Don’t expect a reaction from Jessica Halterman. Whether she allows a hit or a walk or if a batter strikes out or reaches on an error, Halterman’s countenance won’t change.
STARKVILLE — Starkville High School senior sprinter Tavaris Tate is on track to do something that has never been accomplished in Class 5A. Tate is trying to become the first prep runner in that class to win state titles in the 100, 200, and 400 meters.
Rachel Hollivay’s spring recently got a little busier. The New Hope High School freshman was invited last week on behalf of USA Basketball and the Women’s Developmental National Team Committee to participate in the 2009 Under-16 National Team Trials.
Small ball helped the Cleveland High School fast-pitch softball team earn the right Monday night to keep its season alive. Lindsey Mullins’ bases-loaded walk tied the game in the top of the seventh inning, and Cleveland used three fielder’s choices to tack on three insurance runs to rally for a 5-2 victory against New Hope in game three of the Class 4A third-round playoffs at Lady Trojan Field.
Clark Richey won’t realize his goal until June. But he will take another step toward it tonight when the Cotton States Baseball League unveils its four-team North Division at 4:45 p.m. today at the Magnolia Civic Center in New Albany.
The New Hope High School baseball team wrapped up its opening round series in the Class 4A playoffs with Hernando in two games Saturday. New Hope (20-9) won game two 7-4 at Hernando on Saturday after winning the opener 6-1 at home Friday. If New Hope would have lost game two, the teams would have had to play the final game of the series Saturday.
Tyquan Lucious has made clutch and game-winning shots for the West Lowndes High School boys basketball team. But nothing Lucious has done on the basketball court compares to what he did Saturday night on the diamond. The sophomore right-hander pitched his first career no-hitter to lead West Lowndes to an 11-0 victory against Mount Olive in the deciding game of the best-of-three first-round Class 1A state playoff series.
HAMILTON — Kevin McCartney doesn’t do always do things according to plan. But the Hamilton High School right fielder showed Saturday afternoon that as much as he likes to take his hacks at the plate he can show a little restraint. McCartney’s leadoff walk in the bottom of the first inning set the tone for another productive day and helped Hamilton beat O’Bannon 12-2 in five innings to help it sweep the first-round Class 2A state playoff series.
MABEN — The little things make a big difference for teams that have the talent to win a state title. So even with his team leading by six runs in the third inning Friday afternoon, East Webster High School baseball coach Wes Johnson was concerned. After cruising through the first two innings, starting pitcher Blake Love suddenly lost his command, surrendering a double, walk, single, and walk that helped Puckett cut its deficit to four runs. East Webster’s loss of emotion and energy was equally troubling. But things didn’t stay that way for long, which is why the Wolverines have the potential to win their second consecutive Class 1A state title.
HAMILTON — Hamilton High School’s Kelle West didn’t let the struggles of one part of her game affect the other Saturday. West put aside a tough pitching outing to deliver offensively and help the Hamilton fast-pitch softball team beat Eupora 9-7 in the third round of the Class 2A playoffs. After allowing four runs on four hits in the first inning and facing six batters, West got all of the runs back with her bat with a pair of two-run singles.
STARKVILLE — Mark White has come to expect certain qualities from boys basketball players at Starkville High School. In only two seasons as men’s basketball coach at East Mississippi Community College, White has marveled at the contributions former Yellow Jackets have made to his program. Whether it has been Woodie Howard, John Harris, or Coco Ware, the former Starkville High players have brought high skill levels and even better work ethics to Scooba. White feels Jeff Jernagin can do the same.
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State Bulldogs got a taste of what coach Dan Mullen’s spread offense could be on the football field on Saturday night. In a full game scrimmage, the Maroon team came from behind to defeat the White 24-21 in the Maroon-White Game at Davis Wade Stadium. The announced crowd of 31,606 was the largest ever to watch a spring game at MSU. Although the Bulldogs did not show fans an all-out offensive explosion, it was enough to satisfy Mullen.
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