Tuesday, May 22, 2018  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State University survey aims to improve shelter dog welfare
A Stanton Foundation-funded survey that aims to compile data about dog populations in shelters located in key geographic regions across the U.S. is underway at the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine with the goal of determining the number and physical characteristics of dogs entering shelters, as well as the eventual outcome of their shelter stays. "The lack of reliable data makes it difficult to most effectively serve and help dogs in need," said Kent H. Hoblet, DVM, MSc, dean of MSU's College of Veterinary Medicine. "This survey will ultimately enable organizations that seek to promote canine welfare to help the greatest number of dogs. The information will be beneficial to shelter operators, policymakers, and ultimately dog owners across the nation because it will provide vital insights into patterns and behaviors regarding dog ownership, adoption, transfers, outcomes, and resource distribution."
 
Strange Brew Coffeehouse expanding with Midtown location
Strange Brew Coffeehouse announced Monday afternoon that the locally-owned business will open a second location in the Midtown development on University Drive. Strange Brew Coffeehouse owner Katelyn Reed said the second location will open before Sept. 1. Reed said the expansion will create 15 to 20 new jobs, and hiring will begin at the beginning of August. Reed said she is excited about the second location opening in Starkville. "One of the reasons is we are busting at the seams at our first location," Reed said. "So we are really excited to have some more space, and to now be walking distance from campus." Reed said the new location will keep their original coffee menu, and new items will also be added.
 
SPD, OSCO launch seat belt enforcement campaign
Starkville Police Department and the Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Office will have extra officers out as the departments begin an annual seat belt enforcement campaign. Both departments are participating in "Click It or Ticket," which is a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-led campaign focused on enforcing seat belt use across the United States. This year's campaign begins Monday and runs through June 3, which aligns with the Memorial Day weekend and the beginning of the summer travel period. Both departments will have more officers out to watch for seat belt violations through grant funding received to pay for office overtime. According to the NHTSA, seat belt use rose to a record high of 90 percent in 2016, up from 83 percent a decade prior, through a combination of awareness campaigns and the enforcement of seat belt laws.
 
Tropical system could develop and cross the Mississippi Coast
A weather disturbance in the Caribbean Sea has a 20 percent chance of turning into a tropical system and moving into the Gulf of Mexico this week, according to meteorologists The National Hurricane Center reported its forecast on Monday. Hurricane season starts June 1. The development could be gradual. Even if it does not develop, heavy rain could stretch from Cuba to Florida. The weather disturbance won't affect the Mississippi Coast until after Thursday, Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy said. "After Thursday, depending on track and how quickly it moves, heavy rain could become a concern with the bulk of the rain likely late Friday and through the weekend," Lacy said.
 
Troopers gear up for Memorial Day holiday weekend
Motorists should expect to see more law enforcement officers on the road this Memorial Day weekend. The Mississippi Highway Patrol will kick off the 2018 Memorial Day Travel Enforcement Period with its annual safety awareness initiative "Drive to Survive." The enforcement period and initiative will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, May 25 and run through midnight Monday, May 28. Troopers will pay special attention to motorists not focused on the road for a variety of reason, including cell phones. "With distracted driving issues becoming more prevalent on Mississippi roadways, we urge drivers to have a 'Drive to Survive' mindset and make safe driving top priority," said MHP spokesman Capt. Johnny Poulos. "All available troopers will be assigned saturation patrols in an effort to maximize visibility and reduce traffic crashes."
 
Continental running full force to get up and running by 2020
Since breaking ground in 2016, Continental Tires has been working diligently to get it's $1.4 billion plant up and running full force by 2020, but it won't take that long for the company to start making economic waves. "Continental has already been a great steward to the community," said Greg Word, Senior Vice-President of Economic Development at the Greater Jackson Alliance. "They've donated technology to local schools on top of taxes paid to schools." In fact, Clinton's Director of Communications Mark Jones said Continental's interest in local schools reaches beyond its initial donation of Apple TVs to the Clinton Public School District. Plans include to take students from all grade levels, from preschool through high school, out to the plant to tour in hopes of creating a culture that shows the opportunities right here at home.
 
Analysis: Tough choices remain for Mississippi pension fund
Pension plans are long-term enterprises with ups and downs, structured to pay out over decades. And if there's anyone who has the long view of Mississippi's Public Employees Retirement System, its outgoing Executive Director Pat Robertson. Robertson, who's retiring June 30, remembers starting at PERS in 1980. The agency was just starting to buy stocks for its portfolio. Robertson remembers filling out paper trade orders and sending typewritten checks to the bank. Entries were recorded in paper ledgers. The retirement system had $1 billion in assets, and was arguably in worse shape than today. PERS had only enough money to cover 48 percent of projected future benefits. Today, everything is electronic, PERS has more than $27 billion in assets, and it's again digging out of a long-term shortfall. It has 61 percent of assets needed to cover future benefits, nearly $17 billion less than its projected needs.
 
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves touts successes to Southaven audience
Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves says the state can hold its head high when it comes to job and economic growth, and he told a Southaven audience he had the facts and figures to prove it. Reeves, the featured speaker for the Southaven Chamber of Commerce's Quarterly Luncheon, highlighted several areas where growth in the Magnolia State has been seen. Reeves pointed out that his office seeks to create an environment for job creation and growth in Mississippi, adding that each bill enacted under his watch in the state Legislature has passed that litmus test. "In every single bill, the question we ask is if it is going to create that environment which encourages private sector job growth," Reeves said. "If the answer is 'yes,' we do everything we can to make sure the bill passes. If the answer is 'no,' we do everything we can to make sure that bill dies."
 
How Sela Ward's husband became a U.S. Senate candidate
On a break from discussing campaign strategy one April morning, Howard Sherman drives a golf cart from his posh cottage around a bend, uphill to a grassy pasture where horses graze. In front of the white fence, a stone bench made of two small lion statues sits next to the graves of three Wards -- kin to his wife, Emmy-winning actress and Meridian native Sela Ward. The U.S. Senate candidate and venture capitalist said he'd rather be wearing jeans than his "official campaign uniform": khakis, brown loafers and unbuttoned chambray shirt with rolled sleeves over an undershirt. He looks out on his family's large Meridian estate, the lake down the hill and several houses in the distance. "This is it. This is where they say I don't live," Sherman said. Sherman, a Los Angeles native, is pegged the unconventional candidate running in the Mississippi Democratic primary for U.S. Senate with an initial $500,000 personal loan to his own campaign.
 
Jackson County DA and state senator host forum to draft bill that protects people with special needs
City and state leaders are pushing for abusers of children and adults with special needs to receive harsher punishments. A forum held at Gulf Hills Hotel in Ocean Springs addressed some of the changes officials and parents want to see made. "A 9-year-old autistic boy gets slapped in the face and what we can do for this -- misdemeanor," said Jackson County District Attorney Tony Lawrence. Lawrence was talking about a recent incident in Corinth, Mississippi. He said that case and an alleged incident at the Jackson County School District are examples of loopholes in our laws. Lawrence said he wants to see even partial obstruction of a child's airway considered a felony. He said attorneys at his office are researching laws from all over the country on abuse of special needs adults and children. He's hoping to draft a bill and bring it to the Legislature. "The law is something that we can use to protect these children," said Senator Brice Wiggins.
 
Report questions future, effectiveness of Mississippi Prison Industries
Mississippi Prison Industries Corporation is losing money and its future viability as a program is now in question, according to a report from the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review. The legislative watchdog group's report, released Monday, cites financial statements for fiscal years 2012 through 2017, when the program saw a decline of $6.7 million in net worth. "The time has come for MPIC and the Legislature to consider seriously whether the state's prison industries program has a future and, if so, what changes can be made operationally and legislatively to ensure that the program has a positive outcome," the report said.
 
Mississippi nonprofit has lost $6.7M, can't show it's aiding inmates
Mississippi Prison Industries Corp., which has seen its net work plummet $6.7 million since 2012, must take drastic steps to survive, including possible bankruptcy, a scathing report by the state's legislative watchdog concludes. "The time has come for MPIC and the Legislature to consider seriously whether the state's prison industries program has a future and, if so, what changes can be made operationally and legislatively to ensure that the program has a positive outcome," the report says. Rep. Jerry Turner, R-Baldwyn, who chairs the House Committee on Accountability, Efficiency and Transparency, said he would like to see hearings on Mississippi Prisons Industry, preferably involving both the House and Senate accountability committees. He said the nonprofit should have focused on its mandated goal of reducing recidivism.
 
Democrats look to reshape Southern politics; Tuesday's primaries will be key
The 2018 midterms move on Tuesday to four Southern states where Democrats are seeking to redefine the region's shifting politics and prepare for the battle for control of the House of Representatives this fall. Primaries in Arkansas, Georgia and Kentucky -- along with runoffs in Texas for races in which no candidate received a majority of votes in the March primary -- include a handful of congressional districts critical to Democrats' chances to win back the chamber. Two battleground districts in particular -- in Lexington, Kentucky, and outside Houston -- feature examples of the continuing battle between establishment Democrats and insurgent candidates, who are proudly spurning party bigwigs in their efforts to win primaries. Meanwhile, in Georgia, Democrats are poised to nominate an African-American woman for governor five months after winning a special Senate election in neighboring Alabama -- a victory the party credits, in large part, to black women.
 
Steve Scalise Announces Plan for Immigration, Farm Bill Votes Third Week of June
The farm bill, which failed on the House floor Friday, will get a second vote June 22 after a vote on a conservative immigration bill earlier that week, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said Monday. The immigration bill by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul of Texas that leaders have scheduled a vote on includes border wall funding, security and enforcement provisions, cuts to legal immigration and a process for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipients to obtain three-year renewals of their work permits. "We're looking at moving the farm bill on June 22 and having the Goodlatte-McCaul bill come up the third week of June," Scalise told reporters.
 
White House to convene GOP lawmakers to review classified information on FBI source
The White House and the Justice Department have put off a high-stakes confrontation over the FBI's use of a confidential source to aid an investigation into the Trump campaign, after top law enforcement and intelligence officials met with President Trump on Monday to discuss the brewing controversy. A White House spokeswoman said Chief of Staff John F. Kelly plans to convene another gathering between the officials and congressional leaders to "review highly classified and other information" about the source and intelligence he provided. That could be viewed as something of a concession from the Justice Department, which had been reluctant to turn over materials on the source to GOP lawmakers demanding them. But it also could be a bureaucratic maneuver to buy time and shield actual documents.
 
How China acquires 'the crown jewels' of U.S. technology
The U.S. government was well aware of China's aggressive strategy of leveraging private investors to buy up the latest American technology when, early last year, a company called Avatar Integrated Systems showed up at a bankruptcy court in Delaware hoping to buy the California chip-designer ATop Tech. ATop's product was potentially groundbreaking -- an automated designer capable of making microchips that could power anything from smartphones to high-tech weapons systems. It's the type of product that a U.S. government report had recently cited as "critical to defense systems and U.S. military strength." And the source of the money behind the buyer, Avatar, was an eye-opener: Its board chairman and sole officer was a Chinese steel magnate whose Hong Kong-based company was a major shareholder. Despite those factors, the transaction went through without an assessment by the U.S. government committee that is charged with reviewing acquisitions of sensitive technology by foreign interests.
 
Supreme Court upholds arbitration that bans workers from joining forces over lost wages
The Supreme Court on Monday delivered a major victory to corporations by sharply restricting the rights of American workers to join together to challenge their employers for allegedly violating federal laws on wages, overtime pay or civil rights. The justices by a 5-4 vote agreed with Trump administration lawyers and ruled that employers may enforce so-called individual arbitration agreements that require workers to give up the ability to collectively pursue claims that they were short-changed or treated unfairly. In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the decision "egregiously wrong" and said it harks back to the era of "yellow dog contracts." She was referring to a pre-1930s period when workers could be forced to abide by contracts that prohibited them from joining with others, including to form a union.
 
Interim leaders chosen for Alcorn State, East Mississippi CC
Interim presidents have been chosen at two Mississippi schools whose leaders have taken new jobs. The provost of Alcorn State University will serve as interim president of the Mississippi school beginning July 1. The College Board announced Monday that trustees had appointed Donzell Lee last week in closed session. Current Alcorn President Alfred Rankins Jr. is becoming Mississippi's commissioner of higher education. Rankins will oversee the state's eight public universities, including Alcorn. Trustees at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba have turned to a longtime leader as interim president. Rick Young, who retired as president of East Mississippi in 2015, has been named as the institution's temporary leader.
 
Board of trustees appoints Alcorn provost as interim president
Donzell Lee, Ph.D., has been appointed interim president of Alcorn State University, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning announced Monday. Lee was named at the board's meeting held last week in Jackson, a press release states. Currently serving as Provost and Executive Vice President at the university, Lee will begin serving as interim president on July 1. Beginning his career at Alcorn State University as an instructor of music in the Department of Fine Arts, Lee has served in numerous capacities in more than 35 years at the university. He holds degrees from Xavier University, Stanford University and Louisiana State University. "Dr. Lee has dedicated more than 35 years to serving the students of Alcorn State University," said Trustee Shane Hooper, president of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. "He has excelled as a professor, scholar and leader at the university and I know he will continue to excel in this new role."
 
Meridian Community College presidential forum scheduled Tuesday
The fourth of Meridian Community College's presidential search forums is scheduled at 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 22 at the McCain Fine Arts Theater on campus. Scott Alsobrooks, vice president at Pearl River Community College, is scheduled to give a presentation and take questions. The forums are open to anyone interested in learning more about the people interested in becoming MCC's next president. Thomas Huebner, former president of East Mississippi Community College, is scheduled to interview for the position on Wednesday, May 30, the fifth and final scheduled candidate.
 
Eight writers to be honored at U. of Alabama celebration
The Alabama Writers Hall of Fame will induct eight new members in its third class, including University of Alabama alumni Winston Groom and Gay Talese. The induction ceremony will be Thursday at UA's Bryant Conference Center on campus. The 2018 class also includes Charles Gaines, Shirley Ann Grau, William Bradford Huie, Wayne Greenhaw, James Haskins and Joseph Glover Baldwin. Huie, Greenhaw, Haskins and Baldwin are being inducted posthumously. The event is sponsored by the Alabama Center for the Book at UA and the Alabama Writers' Forum, a nonprofit based in Montgomery. Groom, a UA alumnus and author of both fiction and nonfiction, is best known for his book "Forrest Gump," which was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film starring Tom Hanks. Talese, a UA alumnus and best-selling author author of 15 books, is credited with founding the "New Journalism" movement and known for his profiles including "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" published in Esquire.
 
U. of Arkansas System proposal calls for higher fees; tuition flat at 4-year schools
Tuition would remain flat but mandatory fees would increase for in-state students at four-year universities under a proposal for the University of Arkansas System. Proposed tuition and fee rates were released Monday ahead of a University of Arkansas System board of trustees meeting scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The proposal comes after Gov. Asa Hutchinson in January asked public universities in the state to hold the line on in-state tuition increases for the 2018-19 academic year. In a letter to university leaders, Hutchinson noted an increase in funding for higher education as part of a change in the funding model for public colleges and universities. Tuition costs have generally increased at the state's largest public university, UA-Fayetteville. Dating at least to the 1994-95 academic year, tuition increased every year except for the 2009-10 academic year, according to online information published by the school.
 
U. of Missouri curators approve tuition increase
University of Missouri students will pay higher tuition starting in the fall, but the increase could have been more if not for an agreement between college officials and lawmakers. The UM Board of Curators approved a 2.1-percent increase in tuition but deferred all but 1 percent for in-state undergraduate students Monday. Under state law the university could have charged the full 2.1 percent --- pegged to the increase in the Consumer Price Index -- but the curators deferred most of that hike after reaching an agreement with lawmakers to preserve last year's level of state funding. The full 2.1-percent increase will be charged in fall 2019. The curators also approved a list of fee increases at each system campus.
 
Enrollment Declines Steepest in Midwest and Northeast
Overall college enrollments continue to slide, according to the latest data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, a nonprofit that tracks 97 percent of students who attend degree-granting institutions that are eligible to receive federal financial aid. This spring the center found a decline of more than 275,000 students, or 1.8 percent, compared to the previous spring. The decrease follows six straight years where fewer students attended college in the U.S. Enrollments went down in 34 states this spring, the center said. Six of the 10 states with the largest declines are in the Midwest or Northeast. In addition, the number of students who are at least 24 years old declined by 263,000, according to the center. Enrollments for the over-24 age group (sometimes called adult students) have fallen by more than 1.5 million over eight years. Meanwhile, the number of traditional-age students increased slightly (0.4 percent), the center said, but enrollments of younger students remain below their level two years ago.
 
Innovate Mississippi, community colleges working to close 'skills gap'
U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, writes: "Earlier this month, I welcomed Ivanka Trump to my D.C. office for a meeting about apprenticeships and other technical education programs. We share an interest in cultivating opportunities for students to succeed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, recognizing the value these skills have in today's job market. Workers with STEM skills will continue to be in high demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that STEM jobs are growing faster and earning higher wages than non-STEM jobs. Most of these STEM careers are related to computers -- a field that is expected to produce more than a million job openings by 2024. At the same time, recent reports suggest a widening 'skills gap.' The number of graduates with computer science degrees falls far short of the number of open computing jobs."
 
Economy still voters' major issue on election day
Longtime Mississippi journalist Charlie Mitchell writes: "On the day Donald Trump was elected, a 20-gallon tank of gas cost a Mississippi driver $36. Today, The American Automobile Associations says that same 20 gallons costs $52. A 44 percent increase. Does anybody care? In the past, voters have cared -- a lot. Most elections indicate they still do. What voters -- Democrats and Republicans -- don't care about is a president's personal flaws. As long as the economy is decent it doesn't matter whether our leaders are. ...For the past several months President Trump and his minions have been buffeted by a Stormy Daniels storm. The more breathless CNN anchors have been, the more indifferent the president's supporters have become. The economy matters, not Trump's morality. That's why gas prices merit watching."


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State streaking into SEC Tournament
Mississippi State made a major statement on the final weekend of the regular season by sweeping top-ranked Florida. Now the Bulldogs are looking to build on that momentum as they head to the Southeastern Conference Tournament and beyond. "I think we put a lot together this weekend, it's exciting to see that going into the postseason," said MSU pitcher Cole Gordon. "We're seeing hitters start to take better swings and getting big hits in big situations. The bullpen is coming in, filling up the zone and throwing strikes. It's not just one or two guys, it's the whole bullpen." MSU (31-24) is the No. 9 seed in the SEC Tournament and takes on eighth-seeded LSU (33-23) today at 4:30 p.m. on the SEC Network. The winner will meet SEC champion Florida in the second round on Wednesday, while the loser is eliminated.
 
Bulldogs rewarding Jake Gautreau's faith
Jake Gautreau saw potential become inevitability in Columbia, Missouri. The record gave Mississippi State baseball's assistant coach and recruiting coordinator little reason to feel that way, as MSU left that series with Missouri with an series-deciding extra-innings loss and a 1-5 record in conference. But Gautreau has a trained eye for talent, having left the sport's top representation agency, Boras Corp., to take this position. He saw the talent in his lineup, and it was with that series loss he saw the quality of at-bat rise. That's the weekend he cited after the same lineup slugged .529 in sweeping No. 1 Florida. Eight weeks after the signs first showed themselves to Gautreau, MSU (31-24, 15-15 Southeastern Conference) enters the SEC tournament as the best version of itself at the plate, hitting for more power than it has to date by no small margin. The Bulldogs used that power to climb up to the 9 seed, earning a first-round matchup with 8 LSU (33-23, 15-15 SEC) 4:30 p.m. Tuesday (SEC Network).
 
Gary Henderson proved to be right fit as Mississippi State interim coach
It was 10:25 a.m. Sunday when Gary Henderson parked his black SUV in the otherwise empty parking lot closest to Mississippi State's baseball office near Dudy Noble Field. Unlike most late mornings here, there were no construction workers hammering away at the new stadium. There were no other coaches yet in the building, and there certainly weren't any players nearby. There was little noise at all, really, around this part of campus as Henderson walked by himself into his office for another day of work. It was a fitting scene for the 57-year-old Mississippi State interim head coach, just 14 hours after leaving the facility following a three-game sweep over No. 1 Florida to end the regular season.
 
Coming out party: Tanner Allen leads hot Bulldogs into Hoover
All Tanner Allen wanted was a sacrifice fly. Last Thursday night as Mississippi State was on the way to beginning a three-game sweep of No. 1 Florida, Allen stepped to the plate in the eighth inning simply looking to add to MSU's then-4-3 lead with a deep fly ball. Turns out, the ball went a little further than Allen was trying for. It sailed over the wall for a two-run homer. Just like that, the Bulldogs were on their way to their incredible weekend that featured three wins over the country's top team. Allen was on his way to earning the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week Award, which the league handed out on Monday. Over three games against the Gators, Allen hit .538 (7-for-13) with two home runs, six RBI, a double and five runs scored. It continued a late-season streak for Allen as he's seen his batting average raise by 30 points up to .302 since the start of play on April 21.
 
Mississippi State's Tanner Allen named SEC Freshman of the Week
After posting a 1.077 slugging percentage during a three-game sweep of the nation's unanimous No. 1 team, Mississippi State's Tanner Allen has been named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week. Along with batting .538 (7-for-13) on the weekend with five runs scored, one double, two home runs and six RBIs, Allen had an on-base percentage of .571 against No. 1 Florida. With the sweep, State became the first team since April 1-3, 2016 to complete a three-game sweep of a No. 1 team. A native of Theodore, Ala., Allen entered the weekend with just one home run on the year and went on to triple his total with one on Thursday and one on Friday. He went 2-for-4 on Thursday, 3-for-5 on Friday and 2-for-4 on Saturday, along with tallying an RBI in each game during the week.
 
Mississippi State's Tanner Allen tabbed SEC Freshman of the Week
Mississippi State's Tanner Allen was selected as the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week for his stellar series against No. 1 Florida. Allen went 7 for 13 (.538) at the plate with a double, two home runs, six RBIs and five runs scored in the sweep over the Gators. The Theodore, Alabama native is the eighth Bulldog to be named SEC Freshman of the Week and first since Jake Mangum in 2016. Allen raised his batting average to .301 and has 15 doubles, five triples, three homers and 35 RBIs this season.
 
Nick Bush to start SEC tournament for LSU baseball
With the fate of the season potentially at risk, Paul Mainieri spent a considerable amount of time thinking about who should start the first game of the Southeastern Conference tournament. He could throw AJ Labas, or maybe Zack Hess on four days' rest. Then there was Nick Bush, who has just three starts this season, pitched well in his start against Alabama two weeks ago. About midway through the 14-5 shellacking at Auburn this past Sunday, Mainieri knew to put the ball in the hands of Bush. "I just felt that a rested Nick Bush would give us the best option," Mainieri said. "Nick has pitched great in the two starts he was thrust into, including against a really good hitting South Carolina team." Mainieri told Bush his decision a little before the team loaded the bus for Hoover, Alabama, on Monday.
 
LSU 'throwing caution to the wind' to start SEC Tourney against Mississippi State
Paul Mainieri had been thinking about it for quite a while. The LSU baseball coach knew there was a good chance the Tigers would begin the SEC Tournament on Tuesday, and the way he saw it he had three options for who to start against Mississippi State. He could start Zack Hess on four days rest. He could start A.J. Labas. He could start Nick Bush. There were many factors involved in the decision, which settled in Mainieri's mind as he watched Auburn beat his team by nine runs Saturday. He knew the pressure was back on to do well at the league tournament in Hoover, Ala., and he knew who to turn to. "I knew if we had just one game that we needed to win, basically an elimination game ... I just felt that a rested Nick Bush would give us the best option," he said. So Bush, the redshirt sophomore who normally comes out of the bullpen, will get the start in a single-elimination game just nine days after another "must-win" game when he stepped up and held Alabama to one earned run in six innings.
 
LSU fighting for postseason life
LSU coach Paul Mainieri is a big fan of the drama that surrounds the opening day knockout round of the Southeastern Conference baseball tournament. In a rare change, the Tigers will be part of it this year. The storied LSU program has struggled this season -- especially by its lofty standards -- and is the No. 8 seed at this week's SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama. The Tigers face No. 9 Mississippi State today in what might be a must-win game for their NCAA Tournament chances. Mainieri said his team must embrace the high stakes without feeling the pressure. "It'll be an exciting ballgame," Mainieri said. "And that's all we're going to do -- we're going to play a baseball game. Nobody knows the postseason ramifications so I'm not even going to try to speculate."
 
Southern Miss ace Nick Sandlin wins Ferriss Trophy
Boo Ferriss' legacy looms large at Delta State. First-year Southern Miss pitching coach Christian Ostrander experienced it firsthand, first as a pitcher for the Statesman and later as a member of the team's coaching staff. On Monday, Ostrander's baseball world came full circle when his star pupil, Nick Sandlin, was named the 2018 C Spire Ferriss Trophy winner at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Jackson. The junior right-hander (8-0, 1.25 earned run average) topped teammate Luke Reynolds, Ole Miss' Ryan Olenek, Mississippi State's Jake Mangum and Delta State's Zack Shannon for the honor.
 
SEC considering transfer rule change related to postseason bans
The Southeastern Conference will vote on a proposal at its spring meetings next week that would lift all conference restrictions on athletes who want to transfer from one league member to another if their original school receives a postseason ban, according to a copy of the proposal obtained by USA TODAY Sports. The proposal, which is being co-sponsored by Florida and Texas A&M, also imposes a significant financial penalty on schools that have been banned from the postseason in football or basketball by withholding all postseason revenue from the NCAA, SEC or bowl games that could be worth millions of dollars per year. Currently the SEC penalizes schools that receive postseason bans by withholding postseason revenue, putting that money in escrow and returning some of it to the schools if they avoid any major infractions for a period of five years.
 
Georgia tennis player dismissed from team after drug charges
Alabama authorities recently arrested a University of Georgia tennis player on drug charges. Georgia sophomore tennis player Nathan Ponwith, 20, was arrested Saturday in Baldwin County, Ala. and has subsequently been dismissed from the team, Georgia coach Manny Diaz said in a statement to the Banner-Herald Monday afternoon. According to the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office website, Ponwith was booked into Baldwin County's jail at about 6 p.m. Saturday. He was charged with possession of controlled substance (hallucinogen), second degree possession of marijuana and public intoxication. Ponwith's arrest comes less than a year after the arrest of assistant coach Bo Hodge, who in November pleaded guilty in Clarke County Superior Court to a felony charge of possession of a schedule II controlled substance. Alex Diaz, son of Georgia's longtime tennis coach, pleaded guilty to selling Adderall to Hodge. Diaz claimed in court that he was pressured into selling the pills to his coach. He entered a pretrial diversion program in December and was a member of the team this spring.



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