Sideline View by Dale McKee

Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 10:36 AM CDT
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The Ole Miss Rebels baseball team is 6-0 in Southeastern Conference play for the first time in 52 years, since 1969 when they made it to the College World Series with legendary coach Tom Swayze. The names I remember of that time were Archie Manning, Whitey Adams, Johnny Shaw, Riley Myers and Buddy Bowen leading the way. This year’s team is loaded with future household names, but the next three weekends will give us a better gauge of what may lay ahead for this edition. A trip to Gainesville is up beginning Thursday before hosting Arkansas the following weekend. Ole Miss then makes the short drive to Starkville (April 16-18). Southern Miss (14-9, 1-3) lost three of four games versus No. 21 La. Tech (17-6, 3-1). The Golden Eagles will now head to UTSA on Thursday for another four-game C-USA series. Arkansas (19-3, 5-1) swept a three game set from Mississippi State (17-7, 2-4) over the weekend in Starkville. This week the Bulldogs travel to Kentucky. Jackson State (14-6) diamond guys are leading the SWAC with a perfect mark (9-0) and are also the top ranked team in the HBCU poll.

The Ron Polk Ring of Honor has three new members as Bobby Thigpen, Eric Dubose and Paul Gregory were inducted this weekend, bringing the total membership to eight. The 2019 inaugural class included Jeff Brantley, Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro, Boo Ferriss and “Dudy” Noble.

Boys of spring are back

The Major League Baseball season opens this Thursday as all 30 teams will be in action. The Atlanta Braves open their season on the road in Philadelphia and then make the two-hour drive down I-95 to Washington for another three-game set. The Braves’ home opener is scheduled for Friday, April 9. Another Mississippi favorite, the St. Louis Cardinals will also travel to Cincinnati and Miami before returning home on Thursday, April 8, for their home opener against Milwaukee.

Spring Football

Will Hall’s first spring training is in the books. USM completed 15 days of football practice with a Saturday scrimmage. Hall’s biggest impact this spring was changing the attitude within the program. USM will open the 2021 campaign on September 4 at South Alabama. Mississippi State began spring practice on March 18 and will hold their Maroon-White spring game on April 17. Ole Miss began spring practice on March 23 and will hold their Red-Blue spring game on April 24.

The Belhaven Blazers (3-2) completed their first winning football season since 2012 with a 38-17 win over Howard Payne last Saturday in Texas. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes attended the game as his best man in his upcoming wedding Jake Parker is the Yellow Jackets’ leading receiver. Jackson State (3-1) will host Southern of Baton Rouge on Saturday afternoon after a bye week. Mississippi Valley (0-1) will host Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday.

Cage Action

The Mississippi State Bulldogs (18-15) fell to Memphis State in the championship game of the NIT last Sunday in Frisco, Texas. The Ole Miss Lady Rebels (15-12) fell to Rice in the championship game of the Women’s NIT played in Memphis.

The nations’ top-ranked Jones College Lady Bobcats ended their regular season play at 16-0 overall. The Lady Bobcats and the Pearl River Wildcats won the South Division titles in the Mississippi JUCO basketball league. Coahoma and Itawamba shared the women’s North Division while the Northeast Tigers won the North title.

Mississippi College Athletic Director and head basketball coach Mike Jones ended his storied 33-year career with the Choctaws earlier this month. His 19-year career head coaching career record was 342-127, which included five conference championships and three appearances in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Odds & Ends

Belhaven softball was ranked #10 this past week in the NFCA Division III poll.

Vicksburg native and former New England Patriot and Tennessee Titans defensive back Malcolm Butler signed with the Arizona Cardinals.

Dale is a Waynesboro resident who has been writing sports since 1973.

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