Monday, February 17, 2020   
Mississippi State president visits Biloxi High School
If you're a junior or senior high school student on the Gulf Coast, you've probably heard Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum speak. On Friday, he spent time with Biloxi High School juniors and seniors and spoke about their college career choices. "I use these opportunities to inspire them to go and get an education, but to come and possibly be a student at Mississippi State," Keenum said. "I love talking to high school students, especially about how the future is changing and the workforce is changing. The skill sets required to become successful in this world are becoming more challenging and they need to know what kinds of careers to pursue." Keenum also told these students that by 2030, many of the jobs they'll be competing for haven't even been created yet.
Mississippi State University President, Ambassador of Uzbekistan discuss cooperation
Photo: Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum welcomed Ambassador of Uzbekistan to the United States Javlon Vakhabov and U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan Daniel Rosenblum to campus Wednesday [Feb. 12] to discuss potential collaborations, the University said. The state of Mississippi and Uzbekistan have developed distinctive partnerships in military training and trade. Last year, MSU and Uzbekistan's Tashkent State Agrarian University signed a memorandum of understanding for future academic and research collaborations.
MSU Libraries to host 14th Templeton Ragtime and Jazz Festival, Gatsby Gala
Mississippi State University's Mitchell Memorial Library is bringing the late 19th and early 20th centuries to life during the 14th annual Charles H. Templeton Ragtime and Jazz Festival. Taking place Feb. 27-29, the festival kicks off on the 27th with the seventh annual Gatsby Gala in the library's main lobby. The 6 p.m. fashion show features 1920s apparel designed by MSU School of Human Sciences fashion design and merchandising students and modeled by MSU Fashion Board members. The theme of this year's festival centers around the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment's passage, granting women the right to vote. "The history of U.S. women" is among MSU Assistant Professor of History Courtney Thompson's research interests. She said women fought hard for at least 70 years for their right to vote, and they continued to fight for true enfranchisement and political representation after the 19th Amendment's passage.
Fear and resiliency: Chinese natives in Golden Triangle combat coronavirus anxieties with hope, action
On a late-January flight back from Shanghai to Starkville, Ronghua Wu lost sleep. The woman sitting next to him wouldn't stop coughing. All passengers were wearing masks, including him. The mask straps were pressed tightly against his face, he recalled, leaving marks on his cheeks and causing pain that he found hard to endure. "The atmosphere on board was depressing," Wu said. "I wore that mask for about 24 hours and my ears were hurting so much ... but I never dared take it off." Wu, a visiting scholar in agriculture at Mississippi State University, had just returned home to China to spend the Lunar New Year with his family in Fuzhou, Jiangxi, amid the coronavirus outbreak. No case has been confirmed in Mississippi, but Wu still stayed home for two weeks as soon as he arrived in Starkville. During the self-quarantine, he said, he video chatted with his family every day. "I think none of the Chinese really enjoyed the New Year this time," Wu said. Saijuan Chen, a visiting scholar in poultry science at MSU, worried for her family's safety when the virus first broke out. But, Chen said, she's not that anxious anymore. Instead, she said she is excited to be part of a volunteer group that has been buying supplies and sending them back to China where resources are needed the most, she said.
SHS bridge bids too high for city
An ongoing attempt to upgrade a city bridge has run into another roadblock. City Engineer Edward Kemp informed the mayor and Board of Aldermen at Friday's work session bids for a project to replace a bridge at Starkville High School came in higher than expected. "We received only two bids, and we're a little bit disappointed by the amount of responses we had," Kemp said. The lowest of the two bids was about $672,000, while the project has a budget of approximately $430,000. Kemp said the city's engineering department would ready new plans and cut some items from the project before rebidding the project. The new plans should be completed by the end of next week, Kemp said. "We are in the process of going through and revising our scope," Kemp said. Replacing the bridge, which sits on the southern end of the SHS campus and runs over Hollis Creek, has been in the works since the end of 2018, Kemp said, when the Mississippi Department of Transportation deemed it and another bridge on Old West Point Road as having problems warranting their replacement.
Floods put Mississippi capital in 'precarious situation'
With the waters in the Pearl River continuing to rise in and around Mississippi's capital city and more rain on the way this week, the governor warned residents that it would be days before flood waters start to recede. Gov. Tate Reeves said Sunday morning that the Pearl would continue to rise throughout the day, and he warned that the state faces a "precarious situation that can turn at any moment." In one Jackson neighborhood, residents paddled canoes, kayaks and small fishing boats to check on their houses, giving lifts to other neighbors. Some were able to get inside while others peeked into the windows to see what, if any damage, had been done inside. Outside floodwaters lapped at mailboxes, street signs and cars that had been left in driveways. In a bit of good news, officials at a reservoir upriver of the capitol said Sunday that water levels in the reservoir had stabilized, allowing them to send less water downriver.
Not just the Pearl River: More rivers, creeks overflow as flood risk reaches beyond Jackson
Around 20 people had to evacuate from a neighborhood in the Hopewell community of Copiah County late Saturday night as the Pearl River continued to rise. Copiah County Emergency Management Director Randle Drane said flooding was in the area around Hopewell and Gatesville roads. "Hopefully those that didn't evacuate don't need us, but we have measures in place in case they do," he said. The Pearl River, south of Jackson, was nearly 10 feet above flood stage at Rockport in Copiah County at 8:30 a.m. Sunday. The river is expected to crest around 36 feet on Tuesday. Other areas of the state are expected to continue experiencing some flooding along creeks and rivers. The Pearl River at Columbia was at 19 feet -- 2 feet over flood stage -- Sunday morning. It is expected to crest there at 24 feet on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in Jackson. Mike Edmonston, chief meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, said a slight warm front was moving in Monday night, increasing the chance of rain throughout the state.
Analysis: Legislators approaching busy part of 2020 session
Mississippi lawmakers have had a slow start to their four-month session, but the pace is about to quicken as committees start debating bills dealing with the criminal justice system and other issues. March 3 is the first big deadline. That's the last day for House and Senate committees to either pass or kill the first round of general bills filed in their own chamber. Mississippi's prison system is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department after outbursts of violence that killed some inmates and injured others. Cliff Johnson, director of the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi law school, told members of two House committees Thursday that prisons are crowded and understaffed.
Mississippi gave $2M in welfare money to wrestler's group
The state of Mississippi gave more than $2.1 million in federal welfare money to a ministry run by former pro wrestler Ted DiBiase Sr., who was known in the ring as "The Million Dollar Man." DiBiase is the father of a man recently indicted on charges of embezzling federal welfare money from the state. Ted DiBiase Sr. himself hasn't been indicted. The Clarion Ledger reported that DiBiase's Heart of David Ministries had a contract with the Mississippi Department of Human Services for a subgrant of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families funds. DiBiase has said he became a Christian minister after struggling with alcohol and drugs and cheating on his wife while on the road for wrestling events. A woman who answered the door at the home of Ted DiBiase Sr. in Clinton called the Clarion Ledger's past reporting "fictitious."
GOP Wants to Override Jackson's Abortion Clinic 'Buffer Zone' Law
Jackson's medical facility "buffer zone" law, which minimizes protest activities in the immediate vicinity of the state's only abortion clinic, may be short-lived if a Republicans bill in the Mississippi Legislature becomes law. Republican-sponsored House Bill 628 would amend State law to prohibit cities from regulating "directly or indirectly, any medical facility, hospital, clinic, or other health care facility in a manner that restricts free speech or other fundamental rights in the immediate vicinity of the facility" without "prior legislative approval." Mississippi House Rep. Randy P. Boyd, R-Mantachie, admitted to the Jackson Free Press on Thursday that the bill is a direct response to Jackson's ordinance. "That's what brought it about. I won't beat around the bush," Boyd said. "The reason for the bill is I don't think any part of the government should limit the free speech of individuals on public grounds."
'I'll always be here.' Fans remember beloved 83-year-old Mississippi rodeo clown
State Rep. Randall Patterson of Biloxi was one of the last people to talk with beloved rodeo clown Lecile Harris, who died at age 83 after performing one last time at the Dixie National Rodeo in Jackson. Patterson also has admired Lecile for many years. They met and chatted twice while Patterson strolled the fairgrounds after finishing his duties at the Capitol. Patterson saw Lecile at the fairgrounds before Tuesday's rodeo and decided after the night's performance that the Legislature should honor the clown from Lake Cormorant, Mississippi. Patterson's plan was to get biographical information before the rodeo ended and present Lecile a resolution on the House floor in 2021. Patterson said that he and Lecile visited for about 10 minutes Wednesday afternoon, then the clown left for the rodeo. Lecile was humble, Patterson said, and appreciated the Legislature wanting to honor him. Now, Patterson says, he wishes he had gone to the rodeo again Wednesday night so he could have seen Lecile perform one last time.
Judge Percy Lynchard Jr. seeks Mississippi Supreme Court seat
Currently the Senior Chancellor for the Third Chancery District of Mississippi, which includes DeSoto County, Judge Percy Lynchard Jr. Friday announced his intentions to run for the Mississippi Supreme Court. Lynchard Friday morning announced his intentions on social media as a news release was being distributed by the committee formed to support his election. At the same time, Lynchard filed his qualifying documents with the Mississippi Secretary of State's office to be a candidate for the Supreme Court District 3, Place 3 position. In speaking about his candidacy, Lynchard was quick to point out the seat he is running for is not the seat Associate Justice Robert (Bobby) Chamberlin of Hernando currently holds. Associate Justice Josiah Dennis Coleman of Choctaw County has the District 3, Place 3 position. Coleman was first elected in 2012 and has been on the state's high court since that time. Chamberlin holds the District 3, Place 1 spot on the high court. "He (Chamberlin) is a good judge and I wouldn't run against him," Lynchard said. The chancellor is in his seventh term in the district that includes DeSoto, Tate, Panola, Yalobusha, Grenada, and Montgomery counties.
Mandy Gunasekara, who pushed for U.S. to drop out of Paris climate accord, to become EPA chief of staff
Mandy Gunasekara, who pressed for President Trump to exit the Paris climate agreement as the Environmental Protection Agency's top air-policy adviser, is poised to return to the agency as its next chief of staff, according to two individuals briefed on the matter. Gunasekara left the EPA a year ago to start what she called a "pro-Trump nonprofit" in her home state of Mississippi. As head of the advocacy group Energy 45, she has argued on behalf of the president's support for fossil fuels and other energy policies, writing that his approach "has brought both economic prosperity and cleaner air and water." The EPA's chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, is stepping down later this month to work as the top lobbyist for the National Mining Association. The two individuals briefed on Gunasekara's hiring spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision had not been publicly announced. Gunasekara declined to comment.
Trump hopes to ride U.S.-China deal to win reelection
After nearly two years of economic warfare with Beijing that rattled stock market investors and cost farmers and companies billions in lost sales, President Donald Trump appears -- for now, at least -- uneager to replay those events ahead of the November election. Instead, as Trump prepares for his phase one trade deal with China to take effect Friday, he has shifted from beating up on China to boasting about how he took them on and won. Beginning Friday, China takes on increased commitments to crack down on the counterfeiting and piracy of American goods and to stop practices that force American companies to transfer valuable technology to participate in China's market. It also has promised to expand market access to U.S. financial services firms, refrain from manipulating its currency for an unfair trade advantage -- and in the agreement's most eyebrow-raising provision -- increase purchases of U.S. manufactured goods, agricultural products, energy and services by $200 billion over the next two years.
NIH official says coronavirus 'on the verge' of becoming global pandemic unless containment becomes 'more successful'
A top official at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said Sunday that the coronavirus outbreak is "on the verge" of becoming a global pandemic unless containment of the deadly disease becomes "more successful." Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS's "Face The Nation" that multiple person-to-person transmissions need to occur in multiple countries in order to reach the pandemic threshold. Fauci said that as of Sunday, 24 countries have more than 500 cases, with several of them reaching the second and third transmission of the virus. "Technically speaking, the [World Health Organization] wouldn't be calling this a global pandemic. But it certainly is on the verge of that happening reasonably soon unless containment is more successful than it is right now," he said.
Courting young conservatives, Republicans speed up their 'evolution' on climate change
Republicans long divided over the scale, scope and science of climate change are unifying behind legislation geared toward a constituency they cannot afford to lose: young conservative voters. Their efforts to reach this key group for the 2020 election are rapidly accelerating. Within the course of a month, a little-known initiative to plant a trillion trees worldwide has attracted the attention and endorsement of President Donald Trump, who touted the concept at the World Economic Forum in Davos and during the State of the Union address to Congress. House Republican leaders are now building on the momentum to produce legislation from this proposal, which calls for private-public partnerships to plant a trillion trees around the world in an effort to capture harmful carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who is close with Trump, confirmed that he had spoken to the administration about the series of proposals he and his members will be rolling out in the weeks and months ahead.
'He was my big, strong brother': Inside one Iowa family's anguish amid a rise in farmer suicides
On a mild spring day, Troy Sand took his middle son, Connor, out for lunch and to shop for a new laptop for college. Then he returned home, wrapped a single-shot shotgun in a rug, drove to his girlfriend's house in nearby Cherokee, walked into the backyard and shot himself in the head. Sand was 51. His death devastated his large, close-knit family and shattered this tiny community of fewer than 1,200 people in northwestern Iowa. His death also represented a growing manifestation of despair in rural America -- farmers taking their own lives. "When you have a suicide in your family, that person's pain ends, but that pain gets put on everybody that's left behind," said Jill Vrieze, Sand's younger sister. American suicide rates have grown in recent years to levels unseen since World War II. The exact number of farmer suicides is difficult to pin down, in part because they are often reported as accidental deaths. However, experts who work in mental health, agriculture and rural communities all say they have seen a substantial increase.
The W's MFA in Theatre Education has a long reach
Even though Alyssa Algee, Suzanne Allmon, Juniper Wallace, and Chelsea Petty live in different parts of the state the Mississippi, curiosity about the arts brought them together in The W's three-year, 60-hour terminal-degree MFA program. The love for learning shared by Algee, Allmon, Wallace, and Petty was on display on Jan. 16-19 when they participated in the Mississippi Theater Association Festival and Conference at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. Wallace, who works at Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, won the outstanding directing award and the Dominic Cunetto award for best production for her work on "Badger," a play set in 1944 that focuses on five women who take new jobs at Badger Ordinance Works, one of the largest munitions factories in the United States. "Our Theatre Education MFA students, which range from middle school teachers to high school teachers to college/university professors, are incredible individuals," said Lee Crouse, associate professor of Theatre and Graduate Studies Director of MFA, Theatre Education at The W.
Regional journalism conference continues at Southern Miss
The second day of a three-day regional journalism conference continued at the University of Southern Mississippi Friday. Topics included news coverage of the arts, changing roles for public relations specialists and tips on job hunting in the media business. The Southeast Journalism Conference was last held at Southern Miss in 1992.
Secret Tigers: Feds eye Auburn University for recruits... and find them
Auburn University has become a recruiting hotbed for the nation's premier intelligence agencies, and its reputation for such is quickly on the rise. The CIA, FBI, CISA, FEMA, TSA and other alphabet-soup government agencies all have made both private and public -- sometimes surprisingly so -- visits to Auburn in recent months, with one common denominator: finding star talent to serve the nation in jobs not everyone is qualified to do. Or, brave enough to do. What seems to put Auburn in good respect is its long-standing tradition of producing military heroes, its growing reputation in various research and development fields such as cybersecurity, and a student base that comes from a strong culture of patriotism, various officials confided. "One of the reasons I came to Auburn ... is its commitment to security issues," said Frank Cilluffo, director of Auburn University's McCrary Institute for Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Security, the type of prime intelligence-field incubator where Feds love to recruit.
Auburn University, USA researchers seek to ensure resilience of Gulf species
wo Auburn University researchers are part of a team that has launched a study on the viability of several species that dwell in the estuaries of the Gulf of Mexico and have experienced a steep population decline in recent years. The work, which seeks to strengthen the creatures' resilience to damaging environmental factors, could play a large role in ensuring their future sustainability. Latif Kalin, professor of hydrology in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, and Di Tian, assistant professor in crop, soil and environmental sciences in the College of Agriculture, are working on the $2.8 million study, "Building Resilience for Oysters, Blue Crabs and Spotted Seatrout to Environmental Trends and Variability." The project is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, or NOAA, as part of its NOAA RESTORE program. In addition to Kalin, Tian and Lehrter, the team includes eight researchers representing the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Mississippi State University and North Carolina State University.
UF to faculty: Stop sending students for coronavirus tests
Florida's flagship university is warning its professors to stop requiring students who may be visibly sick to leave class and be tested for the new coronavirus. The orders from the University of Florida reflect rising anxieties about the illness on a campus with more than 6,000 international students amid the virus's rapid global spread -- even though there have been no reported cases in Florida. The university would not identify the professors involved, say exactly how many students had been ordered out of classrooms or specify whether the actions targeted international students. An email to deans and department chairs from the Office of the Provost -- obtained by the Fresh Take Florida news service -- made clear it was improper to kick out students until they could prove they were free of the virus. "While instructors are encouraged to care for their students and their health, please inform your instructors that they are not to excuse a student from class to confirm they are free of the coronavirus," wrote Rebecca Holt, the school's executive assistant to the provost, Joseph Glover.
UF research spends more than $928 million, breaks record
UF's research spending has reached a record high of $928.6 million. This is an increase of 7.3 percent, or $63 million, from 2018, according to a report released Monday by UF from the National Science Foundation. The foundation assembles survey responses from all research universities and publishes the results later in the year. In 2018, UF ranked 26th among public universities in research expenditures, according to the survey. The research spending amount was funded based on awards received from public and private sources. A public source includes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the private source includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, according to Joe Kays, UF's director of research. The largest UF projects currently underway include a project to refine an inedible seed into a renewable jet fuel, a project to keep Zika and other diseases from gaining a foothold in the United States and a project to study a type of heart disease that primarily affects women.
Next decade at U. of Tennessee: Accessibility and research are top priorities, Randy Boyd says
For Randy Boyd, the start of a new decade means looking toward the next 10 years at the University of Tennessee. The interim system president outlined three things he wants the university to focus on in his State of the University address on Friday: making the university accessible, focusing on science and research and serving the state of Tennessee. "We are going to make this the greatest decade in the history of the University of Tennessee," Boyd told Knox News on Thursday. "After 225 years of its history, that's a pretty bold statement. We don't mean any disrespect to those who came before us. In fact, we owe it to them; they expect us to build on the foundation they've provided." Making the university accessible is part of "living up to our land grant university status," Boyd said, and something UT Promise aims to do.
U. of South Carolina board adopts rules to avoid political influence but might not do enough for critics
The University of South Carolina board adopted new rules and created a special committee on Friday to address concerns about political influence raised in an investigation after the school's troubled presidential search last year. Critics say the new governing rules will do little to change the culture and makeup of the board that led a consultant to call the group overseeing the state's largest university "fundamentally misguided" and led the faculty at its main campus to issue a vote of no confidence. Trustees still face state lawmakers angry over what became a national controversy. The Legislature could pass a bill that would cut the board's 20-member size in half, or, at the least, vote out seven incumbent trustees later this year. USC trustees hope that by adopting formal rules to address when they are contacted by legislators, alumni and parents and creating a special committee that will handle board management, they will ease criticism and end monitoring by the university's accrediting agency ordered after an investigation last year.
Hundreds of Texas A&M students take part in 'Disaster Day' drill
Just before 2 p.m. Friday, large groups of Texas A&M students and other area residents stood around, laughing and talking under a stunning blue sky. Minutes later and on cue, many of those same people wailed, pleaded for help, gesticulated wildly and mimicked severe ailments -- all at the Texas A&M Extension Service (TEEX) Disaster City as part of the Texas A&M University Health Science Center's 12th annual Disaster Day. The committed actors -- many of them donning makeup designed to emulate elaborate wounds of varying degrees -- shrieked, muttered and staggered about as they waited for members of the A&M Corps of Cadets to pull them from the wreckage. The first responders took them to students from the colleges of medicine and nursing, who had to figure out how to treat the mock patients in the aftermath of a vicious -- albeit fictional -- earthquake. Students from the Texas A&M College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, School of Public Health and the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences participated.
Louisville reverses decision on anti-LGBTQ pamphleteer
In a swift reversal of a free speech policy it staunchly defended just a week ago, the University of Louisville has ordered a student who distributed anti-gay literature at a LGBTQ Studies course to have no more contact with the professor of the course or the students enrolled. University administrators initially responded to the incident, which left LGBTQ students and the professor feeling targeted, by citing state law and university policy that prohibits public institutions from limiting students' free speech rights. As result, university administrators said they could not prevent students from entering buildings or classrooms on campus to express themselves as long as they did not disrupt a class in session. The university was also following the guidance of its attorneys, who said the pamphlets the student distributed did not classify as hate speech, said John Karman, director of media relations.
My roast was more like a nice sautee
Mississippi newspaper publisher and columnist Wyatt Emmerich writes: Over the last 30 years as a member of the Mississippi Press Association, I have attended dozens of "roasts." It is MPA's main fundraiser for its education foundation, which supports journalism internships for Mississippi college students. The Oxford dictionary has two noun definitions for "roast." The first is "a cut of meat that has been roasted." The second is "a banquet at which the guest of honor is subjected to good-natured ridicule." It was my turn to be subject to the latter. Roasts are great fun, yet they seem to be dying out. I'm glad the MPA is continuing the tradition. It's a great night of fun. I have learned a lot about many interesting Mississippians through their "roasts."
Hosemann: Senate 'not in the business of doing tax credits this year,' need to fix state problems first
Bobby Harrison writes for Mississippi Today: Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, citing a litany of state needs, caused by everything from flooding to problems in the prison system, says "the only thing missing is pestilence" and theorized that an invasion of crickets might be next. At that point, a reporter points to the recent crash of a truck carrying honeybees on Interstate 20 near Vicksburg, causing Hosemann to re-evaluate and say maybe the state is facing all the Biblical calamities. The point Hosemann was making, granted in a dramatic fashion, is that the state has multiple woes and now is not the time to be reducing revenue needed to fix those problems. "As a general rule ... on our (Senate) side we're not in the business of doing tax credits this year," he said. Hosemann, who served three terms as secretary of state and is in his first year as lieutenant governor, is taking a different tact than his fellow Republicans have for the past eight years.

Bulldogs complete opening weekend sweep
Mississippi State coach Chris Lemonis was pleased with what he saw from his club as they capped an opening weekend sweep of Wright State with a 5-1 victory on Sunday. The 10th-ranked Diamond Dogs received solid pitching throughout the weekend as well as key contributions from newcomers at the bottom of their lineup. "I felt like we ran some guys out there who had their stuff, pitched with their stuff and commanded their breaking balls," Lemonis said. "I was really pleased with that whole group that pitched today. Our young kids – Kamren James, Landon Jordan, Logan Tanner and Christian MacLeod – had good weekends. I have a pretty good idea what (Jordan Westburg) and (Justin Foscue) and all those guys are going to do." MSU hit .297 as a team during its three-game sweep of the Raiders with 10 of its 30 hits going for extra bases. The Bulldogs pitching staff sported a 3.00 earned run average with 40 strikeouts. MSU hosts Samford on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
Mississippi State baseball: Eric Cerantola overcomes 'Tums' moments in sweep-sealing win
It wasn't always efficient, but it sure was effective. Eric Cerantola has been lauded by coaches and teammates as one of Mississippi State's most talented pitchers. But the sophomore from Canada was also one of the team's most inconsistent hurlers a year ago. In Sunday's series finale against Wright State, Cerantola was a bit of both. He pitched four scoreless innings and had a career-high eight strikeouts in Mississippi State's 5-1 win, but his outing definitely didn't come without bumps along the way. "Probably needed some Tums during some of those innings, but we knew we were going to get that," MSU head coach Chris Lemonis said. "That's part of his progress and his growth, learning how to manage innings and command. But he was really good today, had good stuff." The Bulldogs displayed balance from top to bottom all weekend, even with sophomore Tanner Allen missing the final two games of the series with a sore knee from fouling a pitch off it in the season opener Friday.
Cerantola's flashes of brilliance carry Mississippi State to series sweep of Wright State
Mississippi state sophomore pitcher Eric Cerantola stepped off the rubber and took a deep breath of the cool, February air. For months, the images of last season's disastrous midweek outings in which Cerantola walked 11 batters in 14 2/3 innings -- five of whom were hit by pitches -- raced through his head. But instead of spiraling as he had so many times a year ago, the 6-foot-5 inch right hander remained calm and collected, striking out eight batters in four innings of work as he guided MSU to a 5-1 win and series sweep of Wright State Sunday at Dudy Noble Field. "I was just thinking about the next pitch. Coach (Scott Foxhall) always tells me 'Hey the last pitch doesn't matter, it's already done.' So I just went out there and tried filling it up and I know I have a good (defense) behind me." While Cerantola's three pitch mix of fastball, changeup and curveball fooled Wright State's lineup down the stretch, it took coaxing from catcher Logan Tanner and pitching coach Scott Foxhall to keep the hard-throwing Canadian in check.
Christian MacLeod's dazzling debut leads Mississippi State to win over Wright State
Concluding the fifth inning of No. 10 Mississippi State's (2-0) 6-2 win over Wright State (0-2) Saturday, redshirt freshman pitcher Christian MacLeod casually strolled off the hill at Dudy Noble Field. Heading into the dugout following the fifth inning, the 6-foot-4-inch left-hander was silent as he stared into the turf inches in front of his feet, before stepping over the foul line and disappearing into the dugout. "Getting out there, getting on the mound you see everyone in the backdrop and it's something you've never seen before," MacLeod said of the 11,006 fans in attendance. "You're kind of like 'Wow' -- it's pretty cool to experience, but when the batter gets in the box and everything it (takes) a whole other level of focus." Making his MSU debut following a bout with an undisclosed illness last season that forced him to spend much of the second semester at home in Huntsville, Alabama, MacLeod was quietly and historically efficient as he struck out 11 of the 17 batters he faced in five innings of work -- giving him four more strikeouts in his inaugural appearance than reigning National Freshman of the Year and teammate JT Ginn's seven in his first career start against Youngstown State Feb. 16, 2019.
Christian MacLeod mows down 11 in Mississippi State win
Mississippi State coaches and fans alike have been clamoring to see Christian MacLeod on the mound. The highly-touted left-handed pitcher was forced to miss the entire 2019 season due to illness and finally made his long awaited debut on Saturday. MacLeod certainly did not disappoint, firing five shutout innings with 11 strikeouts in the 10th-ranked Bulldogs' 6-2 win over Wright State to take the series in front of a February-record crowd of 11,006 at Dudy Noble Field. "You always pull for all your players but some you pull for a little more than others," said MSU pitching coach Scott Foxhall. "Man, he has battled through some adversity after missing last year. For him to go out there in his first start at Dudy Noble and have that type of performance ... it's a chill bump kind of moment." MacLeod fanned the first batter he faced looking and also struck out the side in both the second and fifth innings. After exiting with only 77 pitches, MacLeod had struck out 11 of the 17 batters he'd faced and only allowed one hit and one walk.
How Christian MacLeod was masterful in Mississippi State baseball debut
The wait was worth it. Mississippi State redshirt freshman Christian MacLeod hung around for days, weeks and months patiently awaiting what came Saturday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field. The left-handed pitcher missed the entirety of the 2019 season with an illness. He spent the spring recovering from it while his teammates earned a trip to the College World Series. While fellow Bulldog pitchers sat down batters from the mound, MacLeod sat on his couch and rested. He was unable to throw pitches or lift weights for six months. He dropped 30 pounds in the process, from nearly 226 to 197. "It was heartbreaking to see that," MSU pitching coach Scott Foxhall said. "Because he had really worked hard that fall... He was probably going to be the Sunday starter or the midweek starter. He was going to have a huge role on last year's team that we know was so good. He was that good." Instead, MacLeod hardly had a role at all. He spent the semester at home in Alabama and road tripped to Starkville to watch his teammates play on some weekends that didn't include opening weekend, which he missed because of the undisclosed sickness.
Bulldogs capitalize with six-run sixth inning to open season Friday
No. 10 Mississippi State used a six-run sixth inning rally to slide past Wright State 9-6 to open the season on Friday. The Diamond Dogs fell behind 5-2 but managed to come from behind like they did so many times during their College World Series runs the past two seasons, much of the delight of the 9,509 on hand at Dudy Noble Field. "When we were down all the guys were saying that we've still got a lot of game to play," said designated hitter Landon Jordan. "We do this all the time. It's nothing to us to comeback and win a game." Justin Foscue had an RBI ground out in the fifth before the Bulldogs erupted for six more runs the following frame. Rowdey Jordan tied the game with a two-run single to right and Foscue gave MSU the lead with a two-run double to left as part of a four-hit inning that also included two walks and an error. "We had some pretty productive innings early that we really didn't take advantage of," said MSU skipper Chris Lemonis. "So to be able to get that going was huge."
Six-run sixth powers Mississippi State baseball to win in season opener
A remixed rendition of "Sweet Dreams" by Eurythmics blared through the speakers at Dudy Noble Field. For the first time in a while Friday afternoon, the ballpark had life. Perhaps optimism among Bulldog fans never fleeted when Mississippi State went down by three runs to visiting Wright State, but there was plenty of that too. "Sweet dreams are made of this..." The tunes continued as junior center fielder Rowdey Jordan stepped into the batter's box. He did so with the bases loaded and the Bulldogs trailing by two. Jordan was dreaming of a Diamond Dawg victory, and he helped his team get one. His grounder through the gap into right field tied the game at five runs apiece. It was all Bulldogs from then until the top of the ninth in a 9-6 opening day victory for Mississippi State. Jordan said he was sitting on a fastball on the game-tying hit. "That ball kind of got us going," MSU head coach Chris Lemonis said.
Last-second tip-in lifts Mississippi State over Arkansas
Abdul Ado's tip-in with 0.6 seconds left lifted Mississippi State to a 78-77 win over Arkansas on Saturday afternoon. Mason Jones, who scored a game-high 38 points, had given Arkansas a one-point lead after a pair of free throws with 59 seconds left. On the other end, Tyson Carter -- who led Mississippi State with 26 points -- attempted an off-balance layup with two seconds left that rimmed out, but onto Ado's fingertips for his only basket of the game. "I just want to get it to the basket," Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. "They put it up there and we're one of the best rebounding teams in the country on offense. There's a great chance someone is going to tip it in for us in that situation." Mississippi State hosts South Carolina on Wednesday.
Abdul Ado saves the day for Mississippi State men with last-second putback
Abdul Ado hadn't even scored all day when the final seconds of Mississippi State's crucial road matchup with Arkansas on Saturday ticked down. The 6-foot-11 center was inserted into the contest with a minute and 30 seconds remaining for defensive purposes, yet his biggest contribution of the day came on the offensive end. With Mississippi State trailing by one with six seconds remaining, Tyson Carter drove to the basket and put up a contested layup. The shot was off, spinning around the rim, with the Bulldogs' NCAA tournament hopes hanging around the rim with it. With two Arkansas defenders focused on Carter, the MSU center had the space to clean up Carter's miss, converting the putback with .6 seconds remaining, stealing a road win from Arkansas. It was Ado's only two points of the game. "I heard Coach say to just make a play at the basket," Carter told The Dispatch. "I knew if I missed it, there was a great chance it was going to get tipped in, and that's what happened."
Ado after nothing: Big man's only basket topples Hogs
For 39 minutes and 59.4 seconds, Mississippi State center Abdul Ado didn't score Saturday at Walton Arena. But then the 6-11 junior from Lagos, Nigeria, made the game's biggest basket. Ado tipped in a miss by Tyson Carter with 0.6 seconds left to lift the Bulldogs to a 78-77 victory over the University of Arkansas men's basketball team before an announced sellout crowd of 19,200. After an Arkansas timeout, junior guard Mason Jones' 80-foot heave fell short of the basket. The Razorbacks (16-9, 4-8 SEC) lost their fourth consecutive game after rallying from a 17-point deficit to take a 75-72 lead they couldn't hold. "This game probably hurt more than any game this year just knowing we fought hard to come back and we lost at the buzzer, basically," said Jones, who led Arkansas with 38 points. "That's just heartbreaking. Right now, I'm in shock."
Mississippi State softball wins second consecutive tournament title
On the back of a dozen strikeouts from Emily Williams, Mississippi State softball defeated Tennessee State, 4-0, on Sunday to claim the Bulldog Kickoff Classic title. State has now won two tournaments over the first two weeks of the season. With a 9-1 record, head coach Samantha Ricketts now boasts the best 10-game start by any head coach in program history. "It was good to get her [Williams] out there for her first start of the year, try and lengthen her out a little bit, because we know we'll be using her a lot down the stretch," Ricketts said in a news release. We mixed up the roles and had Annie [Willis] come in in the save situation just to give them different looks and prepare them for some different things we might do throughout the year. [Williams] threw a great game. Any time they got on, she came right back and got the next one out, and that's really what we're asking for out of the pitching staff." The Bulldogs will head out on a long road trip next week, playing six games in Louisiana and California before returning to Starkville. The trip begins Tuesday at Southeast Louisiana with first pitch set for 6 p.m.
Rhyne Howard, No. 18 Kentucky women top No. 6 Mississippi State 73-62
A heavily-bandaged left hand hasn't stopped Kentucky forward Rhyne Howard from putting up big numbers. Howard scored 26 points and led a third-quarter surge that sent the No. 18 Wildcats over No. 6 Mississippi State 73-62 victory Sunday. Howard had 11 points to help the Wildcats (19-5, 8-4 Southeastern Conference) outscore the Bulldogs 22-9 in the third period. Amanda Paschal and Howard hit consecutive 3-pointers as Kentucky closed the quarter on an 8-0 run. Howard was 10 of 22 from the field, including 3 of 9 from beyond the arc, and grabbed 10 rebounds in her second outing since missing the previous three games with a left finger injury on her non-shooting hand. Chasity Patterson made 6 off 11 off the bench and Jaida Roper had 14 points as the Wildcats avoided their first losing streak this season. And most importantly, they beat a top-10 team above them in the SEC standings. Mississippi State visits Auburn on Thursday, seeking a season sweep of the Tigers. The Bulldogs won the previous meeting 78-73 on Jan. 30.
New college baseball wristband rule may thwart sign stealing
A new rule intended to help speed up the game also could thwart attempts to steal signs in college baseball. The NCAA will allow a pitcher to wear a wristband with a signal card, allowing him and the catcher to look into the dugout to get pitch calls and eliminating the need for the catcher to relay the call with hand signs. Sign stealing has come to the fore since the Houston Astros were found to have used electronics to steal signs during their run to the 2017 World Series championship and in the 2018 season. The wristband rule in college baseball was put in to expedite the process of coaches calling pitches from the dugout with the implementation of the 20-second limit between pitches. "There's a way to pick pitches and a way not to pick pitches," UCLA coach John Savage said. "If you get an unfair advantage from the in-game (TV) monitor or center field camera and relay pitches right away, I just think it's very unethical."
Could NCAA take action against fake recruiting Twitters?
"Fake" social media accounts are nothing new, but their influence on college football recruiting is becoming a concern that could compel the NCAA and its member conferences and schools to take action. On Tuesday, a Twitter account associated with "Luke Hughes" revealed the ease with which online scammers can manipulate the recruiting community and potentially steal money from innocent people. @CoachLHughes is no longer active, but for a brief period the person controlling this handle claimed to be the account of the Tennessee Vols' director of player personnel and recruiting coordinator. In reality, the Vols do not employ anyone named "Luke Hughes" nor do they list the position of recruiting coordinator in their online directory. The best defense against being scammed online is to confirm the authenticity of the person(s) seeking money or information before providing it. The NCAA, as well as member conferences and schools, might also consider steps to better educate recruits and their parents on scams.
At The 'Super Bowl Of Turkey Calling,' The Goal Is Recruiting New Hunters
An estimated 50,000 people have been in Nashville this week for the National Wild Turkey Federation's annual convention. The centerpiece of it all, happening this weekend, is the calling contest -- where contestants try to mimic the bird so well that the judges are convinced a live turkey is in the house. It's part of the organization's efforts to recruit new hunters into the fold, at a time when the sport has been declining in popularity. The whole point of turkey calling is to be a more successful hunter, luring the skittish bird within shooting distance. So when kids get interested in this part of the sport, they're more likely to try the hunting part, which is something the National Wild Turkey Federation wants to see. "We've seen a decline in hunters pretty much since the 1980s," says Mandy Harling, the organization's director of hunting heritage programs. Part of the federation's goal is to recruit new hunters. This includes kids, but also city-dwellers who want to find locally sourced meat.

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