Smith on Sports: Starkville's head baseball coach spots change

Danny P. Smith
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DANNY P. SMITH
Staff Writer

It has certainly been a strange turn of events in Starkville this year in regards to the changes with the head coaching spots of the three major teams in the city.

Everyone has heard by now about what happened at Mississippi State in February when Andy Cannizaro resigned as head baseball coach due to what he called "some poor decisions."

Interim head coach Gary Henderson took over the Bulldogs after three games this season and has done a good job of keeping the program afloat. It hasn't been the greatest season to this point for MSU, but Henderson kept the wheels from totally falling off.

The Bulldogs go into this week's final regular season Southeastern Conference series against the No. 1 Florida Gators with a chance to make the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama, and depending on what happens there, can keep NCAA Tournament hopes alive. That's a pretty good position for MSU to be in right now.

Last week, Travis Garner left the head coaching position at Starkville High School to take the job at Caledonia High School in Lowndes County.

Garner joined the Yellowjackets five years ago and enjoyed a good run. Even though there were no state championships in the mix, SHS got better during Garner's tenure despite dealing with a very tough division of Class 6A, Region 3. There is nothing easy about having to go against Madison Central and Northwest Rankin every year. That's always going to be a tough task, but Garner's Jackets never backed down from that challenge and found ways to make the playoffs.

Two years ago, Starkville knocked off defending state champion DeSoto Central in the first round. That was a very good accomplishment, DeSoto Central is back in the Class 6A series this season and could be in line to receiving another trophy.

Garner left the Jackets better than what he found them and he should be appreciated for the contributions he made. The next man up at SHS will have a good foundation to start with because of what Garner was able to do.

On Monday, the news broke that Brooks Roberts was no longer the head coach at Starkville Academy.

Roberts is another coach who did good things in this town.

The Volunteers had a terrible time with the weather in 2017 and only managed to play about 20 games. Roberts still led the team to a winning overall record and it finished 7-2 in District 2-AAA.

Starkville Academy just completed an outstanding campaign where it claimed the district championship with a 9-3 mark and finished 23-9 overall. The Vols just ran up against a hot Indianola Academy team in the playoffs and lost two out of three games.

Roberts will be missed at Starkville Academy for his work with the baseball and football squads, but the Vols have hired another good baseball mind in Thomas Berkery.

Berkery played under SEC wins holder Ron Polk at Mississippi State from 2003-06 and has had a finger on the pulse of Starkville baseball ever since. He has led several Starkville Baseball Association All-Stars teams in the summer and seems to know how to teach the game.

The Bulldogs, Jackets and Vols all take baseball seriously and even with the changes at the top recently should continue to find ways to keep their situations going in positive directions.

Danny P. Smith is 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 Daily News or its staff.

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