Aberdeen coach, Vardaman legend Bray calls it a career

@brandonspeck

Mark Bray is synonymous with Mississippi football. For the first time in a long time next season, the state’s sidelines will be without him on Friday nights.

The Aberdeen head coach and Vardaman coaching legend announced his retirement Thursday night.

“I’ll miss being around the kids on Friday night. There’s nothing like that,” Bray said. “The practices, I enjoyed that, too.”

Bray spent 23 years at Vardaman and made 17 consecutive playoff appearances, when making the playoffs was difficult, fewer teams in tough divisions. Those teams went to four North finals.

Bray took over in Aberdeen in 2012. His overall record is 215-124.

He admittedly is burned out by the non-coaching duties and says after a year, he is open to the possibility of returning somewhere strictly as a head coach.

Bray has coached his share of big-time players, including one still playing, Odie Armstrong with the AFL’s San Jose SaberCats.

Armstrong, the fifth leading career rusher in AFL history, looks back fondly on a moment he and Bray shared after beating Weir with 3 seconds left in the second round of the playoffs.

“The moment we shared on the field, it was more than football,” Armstrong said. “The moment we shared hugging, close to tears, it was an amazing feeling I’ll never forget and still remember 14 years later.”

And in big-time games. He leaves Aberdeen 3-0 against Monroe County-rival Amory. At Vardaman, Calhoun City was the yearly rival.

“The Calhoun City games, the Amory games, those type games, they’ll probably stand out more than anything,” Bray said.

Bray was all All-American player at Itawamba CC and has been inducted into the ICC and MACJC Hall of Fame.

 

Posted in Football

Delivering Payne: Belmont senior manned up in Game 1

@brandonspeck

PEARL – Jarrod Shuck could only lower his head and walk back to the Sumrall dugout, three runs and one out away from the completion of a masterful performance from Belmont pitcher Jon Morgan Payne.

Payne craftily directed and dissected Sumrall in a 5-2 win Wednesday at Trustmark Park, taking Game 1 of the Class 3A championship series.

He did it before and after an 88-minute rain delay.

“John Morgan Payne,” Belmont coach Andy Deaton said, pausing in amazement of his senior, “I’ve never had a pitcher be able to do what he did tonight. That just shows the heart and determination of him.”

It was just Sumrall’s third loss in state, first to anyone not named Oak Grove and first in-state loss in 30 games.

Payne had given up a pair of runs in the second inning, before Belmont tied it in the bottom of the inning on Chad Stephens’ groundout and Bryson Cass’ two-out hit.

When the tarp came out in the bottom of the third, Payne threw some in the tunnel. He told Deaton he wanted the baseball.

“He’s a senior. These guys have played for so long for me,” Deaton said. “When a guy asks you, ‘Let me try,’ you’ve just got to trust them. I trust every one of them.”

In front of a defense that made play-after-play, Payne struck out eight and walked two. He threw 113 pitches, 64 for strikes.

When the delay was over, Isaac Sparks was on first with no outs. Luke Alexander broke the tie, the Mississippi-State signee an RBI single. Against Sumrall’s third pitcher of the inning, Landon White, Kole Timbs reached on an E6 as two runs scored.

“Lights out. He’s our Game 1 starter every time. He’s our ace,” Alexander said.

Alexander, plenty of innings under his own belt, called it “unreal” that Payne was able to come back after the delay, then be so effective.

Alexander made pro-look scoops at short and Stephens, a freshman, ended the fifth by catching a ball and avoiding falling into the tarp down the first base line. Payne made notice of Sparks’ backhand stop from second base that ended the first inning.

“It was tough. I just tried to stay loose the whole time,” Payne said, looking for ice after the game. “I’d like to say it was efficient, but it was a pretty long game.”

The seven innings took 3 hours, 18 minutes. Game 2 is scheduled for Friday at 4 p.m., Belmont after its first title in its first trip to the title series.

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Posted in Baseball

Confident Houston sticking to the plan

@brandonspeck

Houston was literally inches from a potentially different outcome in its 3-2 loss to St. Stanislaus in the Class 4A title series opener. Garrison Howell was thrown out at second, trying to stretch a single into a double.

If the ball to left had been bobbled even a bit, he would have been safe. A single, walk and fielder’s choice followed. Houston coach Scott Gann said he would want the same approach the next time – it’s what got them here.

Reid Carter pitched a complete game in a loss, but struck out six and allowed only one earned run.

Hear from a confident Denver McQuary, whose tripled in the first led to the game’s first run.

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Update B6

Garrison Howell singled to open the inning, but was thrown out trying to stretch the single to a double. Reid Carter singled. Luke Hancock walked. Zack Poteete fielder’s choice has them at the corners with two down for Clay Hillhouse, who flew out to right.

Update:

After 5.5, SSC leads Houston 3-2 thanks to a sac fly from Adam Guillot.

Update

T6

SSC has the bases loaded for Adam Guillot. One out, still tied at 2.

Update: Going T6

Houston and SSC tied at 2.

Early update:

In what has been so far the best game of the day, Houston and St. Stanislaus are knotted at two going to the bottom of the fifth.

Denver McQuary got Houston going with a leadoff triple in the first inning and scored on Garrison Howell’s single.

With runners at first and second, Houston starter Reid Carter escaped trouble by getting Noah Nicaud to fly to Zack Poteete in right.

Posted in Baseball

Smithville-Cathedral updates

@brandonspeck

Smithville had its chances, but left 10 on base in a 13-1 loss in Game 1. Game 2 is scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m.

B6

Smithville got a run across, still trails Cathedral 7-1 going T7.

B4

Neil Knight draws a walk to put two on with two out, trailing 4-0, but for the second straight inning, runners are stranded at second and third.

B3

Smithville strands runners at first and second, trailing Cathedral 4-0.

T3

Smithville trails Cathedral 4-0.

Posted in Baseball

Video: East Webster wins 2A series opener

@brandonspeck

East Webster won its Class 1A opener, 4-3 over Taylorsville Wednesday at Trustmark Park. Reliever Kolby Crowley came in and retired 10 straight before escaping a jam and stranding Taylorsville’s tying run at third in the seventh. Here, some postgame video.

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If you’re interested in live updates from East Webster-Taylorsville, here you go. If you’re not, occupy yourself elsewhere.

East Webster hangs on to win Game 1, 4-3. Kolby Crowley leaves the tying run at third.

B6

East Webster adds insurance. Dillan Silver’s sac turns into a run as J.T. Slay scores on an E3. It’s 4-2 EW.

B5

EW leaves bases loaded, still leading 3-2 after 5.

T5

Kolby Crowley has retired five straight, four of them Ks. After 4.5, EW still 3-2.

T4

Kolby Crowley comes in with runners at the corners and leaves with runners at second and third. Strikes out back-to-back guys looking. After 3.5, EW 3, Taylorsville 2.

B3

John Wofford Williams sac fly makes it 3-2 EW after three. Two walks and a hit batter, no hits in the inning.

T3

Joseph Gateley’s RBI single has tied it at 2 on an unearned run. Austin Moffet singled and a run scored on E8, 2-1 EW.

B2

Luke Wilson tagged out at the plate. EW ends second straight inning at the plate.

B1

EW takes a 2-0 lead on John Wofford Williams’ 2-run triple.

Posted in Baseball

East Webster Game 1 pushed to Wednesday

@brandonspeck

From Pearl this morning, @oxfordcitizenjd reports the rain at Trustmark Park has only affected one game of the baseball state championships.

Class 2A East Webster vs. Taylorsville moves from today to Wednesday, a 10 a.m. start. East Webster coach Wes Johnson talked about that possibility on Monday. Here is a link to that story and the new schedule.

Today

4 p.m., Class 5A, George County vs. Oxford

7 p.m., Class 6A, Oak Grove vs. DeSoto Central

Wednesday, May 20

10 a.m. Class 2A, Taylorsville vs. East Webster

1 p.m., Class 1A, Cathedral vs. Smithville

4 p.m., Class 4A, St. Stanislaus vs. Houston

7 p.m., Class 3A, Sumrall vs. Belmont

Thursday, May 21

1 p.m., Class 2A, Taylorsville vs. East Webster

4 p.m., Class 6A, Oak Grove vs. DeSoto Central

7 p.m., Class 5A, George County vs. Oxford

Friday, May 22

1 p.m., Class 1A, Cathedral vs. Smithville

4 p.m., Class 3A, Sumrall vs. Belmont

7 p.m., Class 4A, St. Stanislaus vs. Houston

Saturday, May 23

Games 3s if necessary, TBA

 

Posted in Baseball

2015 State Baseball Championship Schedule

@brandonspeck

Tuesday, May 19

1 p.m., Class 2A, Taylorsville vs. East Webster

4 p.m., Class 5A, George County vs. Oxford

7 p.m., Class 6A, Oak Grove vs. DeSoto Central

Wednesday, May 20

1 p.m., Class 1A, Cathedral vs. Smithville

4 p.m., Class 4A, St. Stanislaus vs. Houston

7 p.m., Class 3A, Sumrall vs. Belmont

Thursday, May 21

1 p.m., Class 2A, Taylorsville vs. East Webster

4 p.m., Class 6A, Oak Grove vs. DeSoto Central

7 p.m., Class 5A, George County vs. Oxford

Friday, May 22

1 p.m., Class 1A, Cathedral vs. Smithville

4 p.m., Class 3A, Sumrall vs. Belmont

7 p.m., Class 4A, St. Stanislaus vs. Houston

Saturday, May 23

Games 3s if necessary, TBA

 

Posted in Baseball

Scores from Friday, May 15

H.S. Baseball
MHSAA state semifinals
Class 1A
Smithville 11, Ingomar 9

H.S. Softball
MHSAA state championship series
(Best-of-3, Game 1)
Class 1A
Smithville 11, Nanih Waiya 6
Class 2A
Loyd Star 3, East Webster 2
Class 3A
Mooreville 10, Philadelphia 0

Posted in Baseball, Softball, Sports

France’s Garel stateside to stay

@brandonspeck

TREMONT – Pierre Garel’s parents couldn’t make it to his signing. They were probably busy eating supper.

That, and it is a two-day journey involving multiple cities and multiple airplanes, overlapping a seven-hour time difference to Tremont, where in nine months, Garel became a basketball star in the states.

Garel, a French exchange student from Tours not ready to exchange back, signed a basketball scholarship Friday with Blue Mountain.

He has his parents’ blessing, from afar.

“They told me that it was my decision,” Garel said, “I was enough older. And I think it’s something that can be really good for me, the opportunity to keep playing basketball.”

He was certainly good for Tremont, a 6-foot guard who averaged 17.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 3.1 steals per game. He’s also been known to dunk a few. To keep slamming on American rims, Garel will have to apply for an F1 visa to continue to study here.

“One year is one thing, then to basically commit to doing it for four more years at least is even a bigger commitment,” Tremont coach Brian Pearson said, “but it just shows his love for the game. I think he really enjoys the competitiveness of basketball here in America and I think he knows that’s what he’ll get.”

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Posted in Basketball

Watch: Cole “Toothpick” Williams after Smithville evens series

@brandonspeck

INGOMAR – Smithville evened the Class 1A series Thursday with a 7-3 win at Ingomar. Cole Williams’ two-run home run had something to do with that. Williams, who also had am RBI single, went to the plate with a toothpick in his mouth.

Here is the story for Friday’s #DJournal and Williams talking about said toothpick.

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Posted in Baseball

Scores from Thursday, May 14

Baseball
Smithville 7, Ingomar 3
East Webster 10, Hatley 7
Belmont 4, Kossuth 3
Houston 5, Lafayette 1
New Hope 1, Oxford 0

Posted in Sports

Houston headed to 4A title series for first time

@brandonspeck
Houston is headed to the first state championship baseball series in school history.

The Hilltoppers (28-9) completed a North finals sweep of Lafayette Thursday with a 5-1 win on the road, a road that now leads to Trustmark Park to take on today’s Game 3 winner between North Pike and St. Stanislaus.

As exciting as that is, Houston coach Scott Gann has already tempered it.

“It’s exciting,” Gann said. “We’re ready to try and get two more wins.”

Houston was all business in the sweep, defensive gems both night, Thursday diving grabs from Zack Poteete and Garrison Howell.

Houston’s five runs over the first two innings were plenty for starter Clay Hillhouse (6-2) and closer Denver McQuary.

“We played extremely well. They are a great hitting club. Clay battled and gave us five really good strong innings,” Gann said. “We knew he would.”

Tied at one after one, Hillhouse led off the second inning with a double before McQuary cleared loaded bases with a triple off the left-center wall for a 4-1 lead. Howell’s RBI triple to the same spot made it 5-1. Austin Arrington (4-1) took the loss for the Dores (24-8).

Gann, in his fifth year as head coach, eighth overall, led the Toppers to their first division title since 2006.
“When I came in my first year as head coach, I told them this is the expectation,” Gann said. “It has been every year.”

Posted in Baseball

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