Notes, quotes and an opinion or two for your sunny Sunday. . .
First off, congrats to Rusty Hampton, his assistant John Hall and their Clarion-Ledger sports staff for finishing in the Top 10 in the nation in three sports section categories, as judged by the Associated Press Sports Editors. Here’s the deal: I know how hard that job is, and I know how much harder it has become year by year. Rusty’s staff and budget have been cut regularly and he and his staff keep producing quality work.
It’s a thankless job. We live in a small state with so many divided loyalties. State people think he favors Ole Miss. Ole Miss people think he favors State. Southern Miss people think he doesn’t care about them. SWAC folks think they don’t get their share. And on and on. Meanwhile, all he does is do the best he can with what he has to work with.
I was proud of all the APSE awards we won in my 33 years at The Clarion-Ledger, but, given all the cuts over the years, I’m not sure these are not the most impressive of all.
Who you got for the C Spire Howell and Gillom Trophies to be presented at a luncheon ceremony at the museum on March 11? There are so many gstrong candidates on both sides. Later this week, we’ll take a look at some of them. But I’d love to hear from you, the fans, of all the schools, on the players you think are most deserving. For instance, Ole Miss fans, Murphy Holloway or Marshall Henderson?
One thing is guaranteed: Those who attend the March 11 banquet will be entertained by keynote speaker Van Chancellor, one of the great characters I have ever covered in Mississippi sports.
Southern Miss baseball ran into a buzz saw named Nick Petree Saturday. Missouri State’s Petree, Louisville Sluggers National Player of the Year in 2012, showed why in a masterful performance in a 5-1 victory over the Golden Eagles.
And here’s the deal: He doesn’t throw that hard, topping out at 89-90 mph. But he knows how to pitch: in and out, up and down, changing arm angles and changing speeds. Major League scouts call him college baseball’s version of Greg Maddux. At one point last season, he went an amazing 73 innings without allowing an earned run.
The latest RealTime.com RPI ratings have USM basketball at No. 35 and Ole Miss at No. 57 — and, yes, that’s updated from Saturday’s games. Both are within range, RPI-wise, of making the NCAA Tournament field. But both need to finish especially strong.
Memphis, the team that handed USM its worst loss of the season Saturday, has moved up to No. 18. My two cents: If there are 17 teams in the country playing better than Memphis played Saturday, I can’t wait for this NCAA Tournament. I thought they took USM’s best shot and still won by 14.
Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton saw his first Major League action of spring training Saturday going 1 for 4 in the Cincinnati’s Reds 13-10 loss to Cleveland. Billy scored a run, did not try to steal a base and struck out twice. Strikeouts are something he’s going to have to work on to become the leadoff hitter the Reds expect him to become.
Glad to see Hall of Famer-elect Gerald Glass bringing his defending 4A State Champion Amanda Elzy team back to the Big House for the State Tournament. Glass is such a great story, first returning to Ole Miss to get his degree after his professional basketball career and then returning to his high school alma mater to produce a powerhouse program. I’ll be surprised if Amanda Elzy doesn’t repeat.