Sports / Outdoors – 2/24/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 24, 2006

The Panolian: SPORTS – February 24, 2006

  From the 2/24/06 issue of The Panolian       

Boren gets grand slam for SP
     South Panola Tiger David Renfroe (right) was named the Most Valuable Player in the Wes Smythe Classic game Tuesday night. He received the trophy from Smythe’s father, Stan.
By Myra Bean

The South Panola Tigers depended on the pitching arm of freshmen relief pitcher David Renfroe and the "big bat" of senior Josh Boren to secure a win for the Tigers opening night Tuesday.

The Tigers defeated Cleveland 11-5 in the annual Wes Smythe Classic game, as the temperature dropped into the mid-30s as more rain threatened to moved in.

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Renfroe was named the Most Valuable Player and received the plaque from Stan Smythe, father of Wes.

The B-team Tigers also won their game 1-0.

The varsity Tigers got on the boards first on a center field home run by Renfroe in the bottom of the second inning.

Cleveland erased that lead in the top of the third inning with a single RBI (run batted in) and a two-run homer for the 3-1 lead.

The game was at a stand still in the bottom of the fourth inning until starting senior pitcher Barrett Johnson doubled to left field to get on base and then advanced to third on a pass ball. Senior left fielder Kyle Crofford grounded out to first base for the second out but drove Johnson home for the score.

The Tiger bats were ready to work in the bottom of the fifth inning. Lance Hendrix walked to get on base then the Tigers got the first two outs.

It seemed like the inning would be over but Jameson Rodgers was up to bat. On a 1-2 (one ball, two strikes) pitch, he singled to advance Hendrix to third base.

Senior right fielder Jonathon Flint singled to drive home the tying run. Johnson singled to load the bases. Then Boren was up.

On a 0-1 pitch, he drilled the ball right over center field for a grand slam homerun and the 7-3 lead.

The Tigers never looked back.

Cleveland scored on a dead ball walk in the top of the sixth inning. The ball bounced off Boren’s glove and went out of play and all the runners advanced one base.

Tiger head coach Patrick Robey substituted some players in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Renfro doubled. Freshman pinch hitter Ethan Bright doubled and drove Renfro home. Tyler Benson got hit by a pitch to get on base. Rodgers singled to drive home Hendrix, who came back in the game to run. Flint doubled to drive home Rodgers for the Tigers’ final score of the evening.

Cleveland scored one run in the seventh but it was not enough to overcome the Tiger lead.

Johnson started and pitched four innings with three strikeouts, four hits, four earned runs and one walk. He was relieved by Kyle Crofford for one inning.

Renfroe came in for the last two innings and had four strikeouts, three hits and one run.

In the B-team game, the Tigers’ lone score came when Dearlo Miles doubled in the third inning to advance Cody Alford to third base. Brandon Taylor ground out to first and scored Alford.

The Tigers have changed the date with Desoto Central to Monday at 6 p.m. at Desoto Central.

Tonight the Tigers will be in Hernando for games at 5 and 7 p.m.

Saturday the Tigers will participate in the Tupelo Tournament. They will play Oxford at 3 p.m. and Tupelo at 5:30 p.m.

Tigers advance to semi-finals
By Myra Bean

At the beginning of the season, South Panola Tiger power forward Anthony Nelson vocalized his dream of the basketball team going to Jackson.

"I will be the first one to say, it went in one ear and out the other," Tiger head basketball coach Charlie Howard said. "I said, ?We’re not real big. We’re not real tall. We’re not physical. There ain’t no way this team will get past district, maybe.’"

Gladly, the Tigers made their coach eat those words as they defeated Southaven last Friday for the district championship and defeated the Greenville-Weston Hornets in the first round of the playoffs Tuesday night, 78-63.

Senior guard Rodney Gray led all scorers with 25 points, followed by Nelson with his season best 23 points.

"I’m going to tell you there is no team who plays harder than we play," Howard said. "If you can show me another team who is going to get after it ? dive on the floor for balls, go the extra miles to make it happen, I’d like to see them"

This win put the Tigers in the semi-finals of the north state playoffs. They will play Provine tonight at 6 p.m. at Madison-Central. Win or lose they will play Saturday night at the same place.

The winner of this game will meet the winner of the Madison Central-Grenada game Saturday at 7:30 p.m. for the north state championship.

The losers will play for the number three spot at 6 p.m. Saturday. The top three teams will earn a playoff berth to the state championship. The number two North team will play the South number 3 team Thursday, March 2 at 8 p.m. in the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.

The number three North team will meet the number two South team Friday, March 3 at 2:30 p.m.

The number one teams in each district got a bye for the first week.

The number one North team will play the winner of the North 3/South 2 game Thursday March 9 at 2:30 p.m. The number one South team will play the winner of the North 2/South 3 game on Wednesday, March 8 at 8 p.m.

The state championship game will be played Saturday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m.

SP v. Greenville
The Tigers never let up against Greenville who had lost to Madison Central in their district championship last Friday night.

The Tigers jumped out on top 6-0 with four minutes left in the first quarter, then turned on the heat and led 16-10 going into the second quarter.

The Hornets showed why they had made it this far with a comeback in the second quarter. With 4:14 left in the second quarter, South Panola had a slim 20-18 lead.

Greenville started forcing fouls and went to the line to take care of some of the Tiger lead. After talking things over with the coaches during a timeout, the Tiger heat was turned back on with all the Tigers on the floor contributing to the 33-20 halftime lead.

The players were all over the floor in the second half as the Hornets refused to go down easy. The Tigers battled for every point. The Hornet crowd questioned every call by the official.

The Hornet coach caught a technical foul toward the end of the game as they realized their season was at an end. At the end of the game, the Hornets had been credited with 26 fouls, while the Tigers had 19.

Both teams were in the penalty shots at the end of the third quarter.

Nelson was not scared to get in the low post and take the fouls the Hornets were dishing out.

The Hornets went to their outside game to pull within eight points, 44-36, on back-to-back field goals with 3:22 left in the third.

That little threat did not last long as the Tigers were back up by 10 at the end of the quarter, 54-44.

Most everything was the same in the fourth quarter as the Tigers kept piling up the points as Greenville kept piling on the fouls.

This style of play of the Tigers has gotten them this far, Howard said.

"We couldn’t ask for anything more," Howard said.

Howard related that one of the players came up to him after the ball game and said he never thought they would get that far.

"He said, ?I’ve never gone this far on a basketball team,’" Howard remembered.

"That makes you feel real good to know they realize that and they care about that," Howard continued.

The main point is the basketball team did all the hard work themselves. The crowd and the coaches could do nothing but support them and cheer them on.

"They played the game," Howard said. "It’s them. We can give them all the X’s and O’s we want but they are the ones out playing the game"

Howard said during practice and in the locker room the players talk about everything but basketball. He said he never has to walk in and tell them to "loosen up. It’s just a game"

"You would think they were just about ready to go to a party of something," Howard said. "They have been loose since day one. So the fact is they don’t let big games bother them. They take all the games the same"

Enid Lake reschedules cleanup day
By Frank Laster
Enid Lake Park Ranger

Enid Lake Clean Up Day
The annual Clean Up Day sponsored by the Enid Lake Volunteers for Waste Management is the next volunteer event at Enid Lake.

This event was cancelled due to severe weather conditions. The event has been rescheduled and will take place this Saturday, February 25 at 7 a.m.
Volunteers interested in participating in this event can meet at one of the following four areas at 7 a.m. the Enid Lake Field Office, Chickasaw Hill Boat Ramp, Lawler’s Grocery, or the Point Pleasant Boat Ramp.

Enid Lake personnel would like to invite everyone to pitch in and help clean up your lake. For more information please contact the Enid Lake Field Office at 662-563-4571.

Special Turkey Hunt
Enid Lake is now accepting applications for a Special Turkey Hunt at the Springdale Wildlife Management Area. Applications for the hunt may be obtained from the Enid Lake Field Office or from public service announcements published in the area newspapers.

All applications must be returned to the Enid Lake Field Office and received no later than 9:00 a.m., March 8, 2006. This year’s hunt will be divided into three sessions with each session restricted to a maximum of 30 hunters. A public drawing will be held at the Enid Lake Field Office at 10 a.m. on March 8 to determine who will be eligible to hunt in the three sessions.

Bag limit is one adult gobbler or one gobbler with six inch or longer beard per day, three per hunting session. (State law limit is 3 per season.) The first session will be for young hunters, 10-15 years of age, and will consist of 7 days, (March 15-21).

An adult at least 21 years of age must accompany these young hunters. The second session will be 7 days, (March 22-28) and will be for hunters age 16 and up.

The third session will be 7 days, (March 29? April 4) and will also be for hunters age 16 and up.

The Resource Manager of Enid Lake, Billy J. Samuels, or his designated representative will issue all permits. In addition to state laws, participants will also be required to comply with special regulations for the Springdale Wildlife Management area.

For more information contact Mike Robinson, Ranger for the Corps of Engineers at Enid Lake. (Phone 662-563-4571)

Diamond Tigers prepared
By Myra Bean

The South Panola Tiger baseball team is just as determined as ever to slice out a chunk of the respect of North 1-5A baseball as the other three DeSoto teams in the district.

The Tiger diamond team expects a good fight on the field and is not about to back down in this newly started season.

South Panola started the season off right with an 11-5 win over Cleveland Tuesday night. (See story on C2 for details.)

Fourth year head coach Patrick Robey has a solid field of seniors who have been with him since he got to South Panola and who he expects to lead the team.

Robey sat down in a preseason interview to talk about this year’s team and the upcoming season, district and non-district. He is very upbeat about the potential of this team as some players this year have blossomed in their potential as they had to step into the shoes of some others who graduated.

Robey also talked about the players who have been leaders in their junior year and how much influence they have on the team this year.

One of his main seniors on the team is Josh Boren, third year starter at first base. Boren hit a grand slam in the game against Cleveland.

"He’s got a big bat," Robey said of Boren. "We will depend on Josh to swing the bat. If he can play solid defense, that’s a plus. He is definitely an offensive guy"

The other is center fielder Jonathon Flint.

"Jonathon Flint is our anchor," Robey said. "He is basically the captain for our outfield: runs well, second year as starter, hit over .300 last year. We expect him to hit over .300 again this year.

"Jonathon doesn’t make a lot of mistakes out there," Robey added. "He does make some. He is very solid defensively"

Other starters in the outfield include Kyle Crofford in left field, Heath Bolton and Barrett Johnson in right, depending on who is pitching. Crofford can also play center when Flint is on the mound, according to Robey.

Pitching is always a main concern and it is no less at South Panola.

All of the previously mentioned outfielders pitch: Johnson, Crofford, Flint and Bolton. Also in that list Robey included sophomore Colton Ales and freshman David Renfroe, who got the win Tuesday night.

"We feel like we will score runs but we have to have some guys on the mound who will keep us in the game and give us a chance to win," Robey said.

The Tigers retained all the major pitchers from last year with the exception of graduate Walt Love.

"With that in mind, it’s a good thing," Robey said. "They are all a little stronger, physically and mentally"

The infielders include Renfroe, at third base.

"There is no question about it," Robey said. "I feel real secure with David over there. He’s a freshman. He is really mature mentally and physically"

At shortstop is Jameson Rodgers, a four-year starter. If Rodgers is on the mound, Tyler Benson can play shortstop, Robey said.

"Tyler is kind of a utility guy who can fill the hole at second or third if we need him there," Robey said.

At second base is senior Lance Hendrix.

"He (Lance) is a guy who has just been waiting in the wings," Robey said. "If you are looking for a kid who has great character, a great work ethic, determination and always does what you ask, Lance is that guy. He played very little for three years. He has been very patient and very determined and he’s going to play second and he’s going to do a great job"

Backing up Boren at first base will be freshman Ethan Bright. Robey said Bright has shown them he can play first base at the high school level.

"As young as he is, he can swing the bat well," Robey said. "I look for him to be in the lineup a lot"

At catcher are junior Mitchell Houston and senior Bud Barthold.

"They push each other," Robey said. "They have a good working relationship. It is fun but it is also a job. If you have someone pushing for your spot, it is a little motivation. They compliment each other well"

The teams of Horn Lake, Southaven and Olive Branch, along with South Panola make up the district. Teams will meet each other twice during the season.

In the preseason polls, Olive Branch was ranked No. 3 with a new coach, Bo Reynolds, at the helm.

"Everybody in our district is solid," he said. "We just have to go out and execute"

Robey said those teams have always had a couple of good pitchers which goes back to the beginning of their programs.

"There are not that many good arms on those teams as there have been in the years past," Robey said. "That is a positive for us. If I had to say if one team was stronger than another, it would be Olive Branch. They probably have more experienced pitchers than anyone else in the district"

Robey said Southaven has one dominant pitcher who is already fielding offers from Florida, Memphis and other division one schools.

"But he can’t throw every game," Robey said. "Just like our best guy can’t throw every game either.

"We like our chances," Robey added. "It will be a dogfight from game one, but our guys are prepared"

The coaching staff puts the players in pressure situations in practice so they can handle them when they come up in the games, according to Robey.

On the coaching staff is Chim Stogner, who is in his second year from Petal; Drew McGehee, a student volunteer from Ole Miss; Brad Lightsey, first year, former Tiger; and Amir Hunt, first year math teacher at South Panola.

"Drew helps as much as he can on a volunteer basis," Robey said. "He’s certainly a good student of the game and knows the game. The kids respond to him well"

Lightsey attended Delta State and was named to the All-American team. He and Robey received the same baseball training.

"Brad is a super young man with a great mind for the game," Robey said. "He is a great guy for me to have because I can just turn the pitching staff over to him"

Hunt has basically taken over the junior high program and is the outfield coach for the high school, Robey said.

"The kids like him," Robey added. "He is real energetic"

Robey was bursting with excitement about this year’s team and its potential.

"It’s a fun team," he said. "The kids know what is expected of them. They keep you on your toes"

Lady Tigers better than ever
By Myra Bean

First year South Panola softball head coach John Sherman has his hands full right now as assistant coach of the Tiger basketball team in the state playoffs and trying to kickoff the softball season.

Inclement weather has delayed the start of the Lady Tiger softball season but was expected to get started Thursday afternoon if the sun would cooperate and dry the field.

According to assistant coach John Davis, the opening game against Madison Central will be rescheduled for later this season. The Lady Tigers were scheduled to go to Oxford Thursday but a change of venue had Oxford playing in Batesville.

The Lady Tigers should be all set to go for their home game against Grenada tomorrow at noon at Trussell Park.

Davis counted up the weeks of practice the team has been engaged in and came up with eight.

"We are ready to play some games," Davis said.

With returning pitchers junior Lauren Suratt and sophomore Whitney Kiihnl on the mound, the Lady Tigers are stronger than ever, according to Davis.

"I told them the first day, I am depending heavily on them," Davis said. "Both are a big part of the team. When one’s not pitching, both are good hitters"

Both pitchers plus others on the team take private pitching lessons to hone their craft and learn different pitching styles and pitches.

Davis spoke candidly of how much time it takes for coaches to learn the different pitches and to be able to advise the pitchers on what they did on a certain pitch.

Since the inception of fast pitch in Mississippi High Schools within the last 10 years, the sport has grown bigger and more popular. It is faster-paced than its centuries-old counterpart, slow pitch. The ball is thrown straighter. The runners can steal base and lots of other different nuances.

At first the game was perceived as a pitcher/catcher game.

"If you had a good pitcher, catcher and third baseman, you were set," Davis said. "But now people are learning to hit the pitches. They can tell what’s coming by the rotation of the ball.

"If you don’t put the bat on the ball, all they have to do is 1, 2, 3 and you’re out," Davis added. "Hopefully, we won’t see a lot of that. If you do, they will be swinging"

Davis said he told the team that one of his pet peeves is to stand and watch his players watch "strike three" go by.

The strategy Davis uses to get the team to bat at the ball is to tell the three things an opposing team has to do when the ball is hit: they have to field it, throw it and then they have to catch it.

With those thoughts, Davis spoke of the upcoming season.

"We are loaded up," he said. "We don’t have any weak teams on our schedule. Every game we have to be ready to play"

The 1-5A district is the toughest in the state, according to Davis.

Southaven won the state championship last year but lost head coach Morris Hunter late last year to heart failure.

"New coach Shane Staten is just carrying on what Hunter did," Davis said. "He was a great asset to the program. They will be just as tough"

Olive Branch is under first year softball coach Ernie McLellan.

"He is probably the best coach in the state," davis said.

Davis predicts Horn Lake will be just as tough this year. Horn Lake beat an always tough Grenada team 7-6 Tuesday. DeSoto Central, one of the non-conference teams on the schedule, defeated Olive Branch 7-0 Tuesday.

As for the makeup of this year’s team, Casi Brooks was moved to catcher after the graduation of Jessica Anderson. Lindsey Thaggard took over first base after Angela Waller graduated. Leann Parrish moved from centerfield to the shortstop position after Kelley Capwell graduated.

In other positions in the outfield will be Kiihnl when not pitching, Haley Hood, Hillari Plummer and Bethany Moore.

Other infielders include Haylei Plummer at third and A.J. Hudson at second.

When Sherman came in at head coach, he did not want to make a lot of changes, according to Davis.

"Most of these girls have been playing together a long time," Davis said. "It’s really just the process of maintaining what they’ve been taught"

There will be a junior varsity game each date except for one.

Plans are in the works to have enough junior high girls sign up to field junior a high team like baseball does, according to Davis.

Young ND team takes field
By Myra Bean

North Delta head coach David Hardy hopes all the other teams are having as much trouble getting the season started due to weather as he is.

The game with Lee, Ark. was not played Monday due to rain and wet fields. It was rescheduled for yesterday if the weather held or will be played this afternoon. The information was not available at press time.

The game against Marvell has been changed to March 27, a doubleheader at North Delta. Marvell girls are still in basketball playoffs and the softball coach is also working with that team.

As for the Green Wave team that will take the field, it could best be described as relatively young.

Only four seniors are returning from last year and two seniors are new this year.

Chris Pike, Dustin Maples, Bryce Raddatz and Pittman Harrison return to lead the Green Waves through another tough season. Joining the team this year are Hunter Darby and Matthew Locke, who did not play the last two years.

"Matthew is showing a lot of drive in practice," Hardy said.

Also new in the dugout is assistant coach John Howell Jr. who in addition to coaching is the elementary school principal and an English teacher at the high school.

"His presence on the field is very welcomed," Hardy said. "He is obviously known by all the kids. He is a super positive person to be around and well-respected by the players. He is definitely a great addition to the baseball program"

Green Waves around the diamond include Chris Pike at catcher and pitcher with Bateman Greenlee and Jim Tyler Dalrymple catching when Pike pitches.

Dalrymple will be starting in the outfield and also pitching. Pittman is the starting shortstop/pitcher. Darby will start at third base and also pitch. Raddatz moved to the first base starting position.

"Bryce is dealing with it well," Hardy said.

Maples is back at center field where he has been the last two years.

"There are still some areas up in the air the players will compete for: second base and right field," Hardy said.

Locke is showing strong for the right fielder position, according to Hardy. Competing for second base are Matthew Pike, Geri Lamm and Taylor Herron. Josh Ratliff can be a designated hitter, according to Hardy.

North Delta will also field a junior high team and some players will find some time on the varsity team, according to Hardy.

As for the district, Bayou Academy won it last year with a relatively young team. They only lost two players to graduation last year.

"I keep throwing young around and we are, too," Hardy said. "They will all be a little more experienced. We lost some impact guys to graduation last year"

Lee Academy of Clarksdale is expected to be one of the strongest in the district, Hardy said. Indianola will come in with some strength, too.

"Kirk is in what they call a rebuilding year but they are good year-in and year-out," Hardy said. "They might not be as strong as they have been but they will have a good program"

Carroll was a young team last year and defeated North Delta both times. Marshall was young last year too but North Delta got the better of them in both games.

With clearer weather conditions predicted, hopefully North Delta will soon take the baseball diamond.

"Hopefully everybody is getting the same weather we are and we will all be on the same page," Hardy said.




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