Smith on Sports: Jackets, Vols turn to Bulldogs to lead baseball programs

Danny P. Smith
Staff Writer

Bulldogs and baseball always seem to go hand in hand in this town.

When it came time to find new head coaches to lead their high school baseball programs, both the Starkville Yellowjackets and Starkville Academy Volunteers turned to former Mississippi State baseball players.

Starkville Academy made that move first by hiring Thomas Berkery, then SHS followed by choosing Luke Adkins at last Friday’s special-called board meeting.

Berkery and Adkins both played for legendary coach Ron Polk and just a little bit of baseball knowledge from that man goes a long way.

It’s more than just what Adkins learned from Polk that will help him coach the Jackets. He also played under the watchful eyes of John Cohen, Butch Thompson, Nick Mingione and Lane Burroughs with the Bulldogs from 2008-10. Thompson, Mingione and Burroughs were MSU assistants who are now head coaches.

Adkins, who also gained valuable experience under Corky Palmer and Scott Berry at Southern Mississippi, should be a good fit at SHS. He may not bring head-coaching credentials to the Jackets, but he seems to know the game and really has the best interest of the players in mind.

Following Friday’s press conference introducing him to the SHS nation, Adkins told the story about the players from Houston High School, where he was an assistant coach in baseball and football, really hating to see him go, but happy he’s getting an opportunity to become a head coach of a Class 6A program.

With Berkery joining the Vols, he is also a first-time head coach on the high school level. He has been involved with baseball in this area as an All-Star coach in the Starkville Baseball Association for several years and has been a part of winners.

That includes his time with the Bulldogs.

Berkery was at MSU from 2003-06 and performed in NCAA regional competition in all of those years. The Bulldogs hosted the Starkville Regional in 2003, then went to the Atlanta Regional, Coral Gables Regional and Clemson Regional in consecutive seasons.

It hasn’t taken Berkery much time to put his imprint on Starkville Academy as he coached the junior high in summer league action on Friday night. After losing an 8-3 decision in the first game of a doubleheader, the Vols bounced back to defeat the Jackets 11-2.

Adkins also said after Friday’s press conference that the evaluation process will begin at SHS during the summer.

That makes this time of the year very important for baseball in Starkville.

Danny P. Smith is the sports editor and columnist for The Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SDN or its staff.