Sports Year In Review

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hoisting that 5A fastpitch softball state championship trophy meant the world to first year head coach Ashleigh Hicks. The Panolian photo by Billy Davis

Sports 2007 Year In Review
Goals: Schools strive to bring home State Championships

By Myra Bean

With the advent of State Championships, each school sets its sights on grabbing as many as it can. Panola County schools are no exception.

This year was a banner year for South Panola as two state championships came its way.

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The fastpitch softball team brought home its first ever state championship with back-to-back, 1-0,  3-1 wins over Oak Grove under first year head coach Ashleigh Hicks.

Hicks was named The Clarion-Ledger’s coach of the year. Whitney Kiihnl was named Miss Softball. Seniors Leann Parrish and Lindsey Thaggard were picked for the All-Star team. Kiihnl was also the Gatorade Softball Player of the Year. Kiihnl has signed a national letter of intent to play at Lipscomb University in Nashville.

•The South Panola football team brought home its fifth straight state football championship with a 28-21 win over George County. This was the team’s seventh state championship and came under new head coach Lance Pogue.

Another big happening in the sports world was the news that five-year head coach Ricky Woods was leaving the program he had helped turn around and led to a 74-1 record in January. In February Pogue was hired from Eupora to come aboard to continue the winning tradition.

Pogue led South Panola to its fifth-straight undefeated season and the longest active win streak in the country of 75-0.

Chosen to play in the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star game were Darius “Tig” Barksdale, Quin Sanford and Terrance Pope. Barksdale was also chosen to play in the U.S. Army All-American game. He was named Mr. Football for 2007.

The Tigers along with other teams in north Mississippi had to deal with an unprecedented heat order: Chancery Court judge Mitchell Lundy, who serves the counties of Desoto, Tate, Panola, Yalobusha, Grenada and Montgomery, issued a temporary restraining order against the school districts in all counties except Grenada to halt “any and all school sponsored activities (i.e. sports related activities) which include physical exertion.” The order was declared null and void a few days later by the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Toyota Line of Scrimmage came and spent a week in Batesville shooting various scenes surrounding the football team.

•Bringing more national attention to South Panola are the competitive cheerleader squads. The junior high squad placed fifth in the nation in its first ever trip to Orlando, Fla. The high school squad was ranked No. 6 in the nation.

•In basketball, the South Panola Lady Tigers won the district with an upset win over Olive Branch, but fell in the north half tournament. Sabrina Townsend was chosen for the All-star team.

• South Panola head boys basketball coach Charlie Howard was inducted into the first ever Junior College Sports Hall of Fame.

•North Delta baseball team made the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. Stoney Stone has been hired as assistant coach to the baseball team.

•Though Ole Miss is in Oxford, happenings in the football realm affects Panola County. Ed Orgeron was ousted as head coach after three years and legendary coach Houston Nutt of Arkansas was hired to replace him three days later.

•South Panola and Panola County lost a great supporter in the death of Bob Norris. Norris was dubbed “The Voice of The Tigers” for many years as he brought the football games into the homes of those who could not attend.

•In other college news, Randy Pippin resigned from Northwest as head football coach and former South Panola coach Ricky Woods was hired as the new coach.

•North Panola’s football program was looking good, but Vincent Johnson resigned suddenly in July and left the school scrambling to find a head coach at this late of date. With just two weeks before the first game, former coach Clifton Davis Jr. was rehired and he took the team to the first round of the playoffs.

•The North Delta football keeps improving each year and won the district but lost in the second round of the playoffs. Chosen to play in the All-star game were J.T. Dalrymple and Andy Barns.

•The North Delta fastpitch softball team won the 1-1A district and advanced to the North State round. They placed second in North State and advanced to the Class A state tournament round where they lost in the  third round. Melanie Gaters and Lauren Tidwell were chosen for the All-Star team.

•The Deshea Townsend camp had a record attendance of 769 participants.

*In community news, Michael Cook was the grand champion in his karate division. The Wooly-Boogers won their USSSA State Championship.