Even the most talented teams sometimes need a break. The Columbus Severstal Under-12 girls soccer team used two days of championship play and a little bit of good fortune this weekend to win a state title. Columbus defeated the Greenwood Revolution 2-0 in the semifinals and then beat a team from Hattiesburg 2-1 to take the Kohl’s Cup championship in Jackson. The U-12 age division featured 16 of the state’s top recreation soccer teams in an eight-on-eight tournament.
The West Lowndes High School baseball team didn’t want or expect its season to end the way it did Saturday. Losing two-straight games in the third round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A playoffs wasn’t what the Panthers had in mind. Vicksburg St. Aloysius opened the series with a 10-1 victory at West Lowndes on Friday and then defeated the Panthers 4-2 at home Saturday to clinch the series.
HAMILTON — The “freebies” the Hamilton High School baseball team allowed Friday night turned out to be even more costly than anyone would have imagined. Shonquayle Jenkins pitched six strong innings Saturday to lead the Water Valley High School baseball team to a 2-0 victory against Hamilton in game two of its Mississippi High School Activities Association best-of-three Class 2A third-round series. The victory sends Water Valley (20-9) into the next round where it will face the winner of the Belmont-Ackerman series. Game two of that series was rained out Monday. Hamilton ends its season at 21-7.
MABEN –– The East Webster High School baseball team believes it can defeat Stringer two-straight games and advance in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A playoffs. Beating the weather was a different story on Saturday, however. After an estimated two inches of rain fell in approximately 10-to-15 minutes, the second game of the series was suspended in the top of the second inning. It will resume at 6 p.m. Monday. East Webster (27-4) was looking to bounce back a day after losing the first game of the series to Stringer 4-3 in nine innings.
Phillip Morris isn’t the best 3-point shooter. He didn’t have eye-popping numbers as a senior point guard for the Columbus High School boys basketball team. But the key for coaches when they recruit is to identify players who have the intangibles, are willing to buy into a team concept, and who are willing to listen and to be coached. Morris gets a perfect score in those categories, which is why Friday was a special day for him and his family.
STARKVILLE — Gloria Jamison has a special perspective on Tavaris Tate. As minister at Columbus’ Maranatha Faith Center, Jamison has known for some time that Tate is destined for great things. She became convinced of that one day when she was standing at the altar and Tate approached her. At that moment, Jamison said, God showed her Tate would excel as a track and field athlete. Tate is proving Jamison’s vision correct.
RIDGELAND — Champions make you pay for your mistakes. Whether it is a pitch in the wrong location, an errant throw, or a missed groundball, the East Webster fast-pitch softball team has capitalized all season on miscues by its opponents. The Mississippi High School Activities Association Class A state title series was no different. East Webster took advantage of two critical errors in a five-run third inning Saturday and then rode the pitching of Jessica Halterman to an 8-2 victory against Smithville to clinch the best-of-three series at Freedom Ridge State Park.
Jessica Halterman was in a zone. The East Webster High School senior pitcher was so focused Saturday afternoon she didn’t appear ready to celebrate after recording the final out in an 8-2 victory against Smithville in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A best-of-three championship series. While some of her teammates tossed their gloves into the air, Halterman left the circle and moved toward her team’s dugout. She appeared to mouth the word, “Wow.”
RIDGELAND — The miracle rally turned out to be incomplete. Three singles in the top of the seventh inning by the Hamilton High School fast-pitch softball team gave it hope. Brooke Delaughter and her Loyd Star High teammates ended the Lady Lions’ dream with a bang-bang play. Delaughter retired Caitlyn Atkins on a close play at first base to help preserve Loyd Star’s 3-2 victory in game two of the Mississippi High School Activities Association best-of-three Class 2A state championship series at Freedom Ridge State Park.
The New Hope High School baseball team’s quest to sweep its third consecutive series in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 4A playoffs was put on hold Saturday. New Hope was scheduled to play at Saltillo in the second game of the best-of-three third-round series, but the game was postponed due to rain. The game has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at Saltillo. The Trojans are seeking another sweep after beating Hernando and Pontotoc in the first two rounds. New Hope took a 1-0 lead in the series Friday with an 8-3 victory at Trojan Field.
The University of Alabama baseball team’s offense is intimidating when you look at the numbers. Alabama leads the Southeastern Conference in batting average (.338), hits (550), slugging percentage (.592), on-base percentage (.423), runs scored (423), RBIs (394), doubles (116), and total bases (963). When Mississippi State plays host to Alabama in a three-game SEC series at 6:30 p.m. today, 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, the Bulldogs primary task will be to try to hold down that offense.
Mississippi State’s basketball program might not have a “Varnado” next season, but it will have a “Renardo.” Renardo Sidney, a McDonald’s All-American from Fairfax High School in Los Angeles and the nation’s No. 7 prospect in the country according to ESPN’s Scout’s Inc., signed Thursday afternoon with Mississippi State. MSU spokesman Gregg Ellis confirmed the signing, which ended a week of speculation about Sidney’s destination.
HAMILTON — This weekend is the Hamilton High School fast-pitch softball team’s chance to shine. The Lady Lions will try to do it with fire and desire. “Fire and desire” was the slogan on a sign taped to the wall in Hamilton’s dugout Saturday when it faced Hatley in game two of its Class 2A North Half title series. Hamilton (15-10) won that game 7-6 to earn the opportunity to play Loyd Star at 6 p.m. today in the first game of the Mississippi High School Activities Association best-of-three Class 2A state championship at Freedom Ridge State Park in Ridgeland.
MABEN — Another championship walk would suit the East Webster High School fast-pitch softball team just fine. Last week, the three-time defending champion Lady Wolverines concluded their most recent South Half state title with a 7-0 victory against Bogue Chitto. After the final out was recorded in senior Jessica Halterman’s no-hitter, East Webster coach Bill Brand talked to his team and then had seniors Halterman, Iyeshia Thomas, Jordan Sisk, Darlynda Wilson, and Caitlyn Williamson had join arms and walk from the center field fence to the backstop.
If baseballs are going out to left or right field the Stowers brothers have them covered. West Lowndes High School’s Ryan and Trevor Stowers have provided the defense necessary to keep the Panthers in games and have delivered key contributions to help them make the third round of the Mississippi High School Association Class A playoffs against Vicksburg St. Aloysius. Trevor said he never knows when a play he makes in the outfield might be a difference in a game.
HAMILTON — Part of the beauty of sports can be found in the numbers. Some statistics are hard to comprehend, regardless of how many times you look at them. Chase Reeves still finds it difficult to believe he owns one of those numbers: Zero. The junior left-hander has allowed 11 runs this season — all unearned.
Sometimes, for whatever reason, players who appear to have an unlimited upside go unnoticed. Devin Malone is one of those players. The West Lowndes High School senior showcased his skills on the court earlier this year as he helped lead the school’s boys basketball team to the Class 1A state tournament in Jackson. Malone hopes to play a similar role with the West Lowndes High’s baseball team.
STARKVILLE — Spring football practice started this week at Starkville High School, but Billy Shed isn’t ready to take that field just yet. As the football team worked out on a nearby field, Shed and fellow members of Starkville’s 4x400-meter relay team were preparing on the track for Saturday’s Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State meet at Madison Central High School. Shed will be a returning safety for coach Bill Lee this fall, but right now track and field is a priority.
The Road Dawgs Tour is getting closer to Columbus. Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen and other members of the athletic department are making plans to make their Lowndes County appearance at the Plymouth Bluff Center on Monday. It’s one of the stops Mullen is making among 16 cities across the Southeast. Anyone wanting to attend must purchase their $15 tickets by today at Coldwell Banker West Realty or BankFirst in Columbus.
CALEDONIA — Jelisha Hackman has explosion. Typically, though, when you compete in the 100 meters you’re pushing off a block fastened to the track at the start of a race. Hackman’s propulsion in the sprint comes from a standing start, in part because of the lack of track and field facilities at Caledonia High School. But Hackman, just like many of her teammates, has learned to live and to succeed with what she doesn’t have.