Monday, March 13, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
MaxxSouth gifts Mississippi State $440K for new digital media center
MaxxSouth Broadband recently made a large financial contribution to Mississippi State University, which will go toward the current expansion of Mitchell Memorial Library. The company kicked in $440,000 to establish the MaxxSouth Broadband Digital Media Center Facilities Fund, along with another endowment to fund the facility's upkeep. MSU said in a release the new Digital Media Center will be located in a larger, more visible library area, providing students and faculty access to the latest software, technology, broadcast and recording studios, a Makerspace and a GIF/Data Visualization Lab. "Universities play such an important role in society, so we feel it is our duty to give back," said Peter Kahelin, president and CEO of MaxxSouth Broadband.
Grant to Mississippi State, Cardiff University will fund infant head trauma research
Researchers at Mississippi State University and Cardiff University in the United Kingdom are working together to increase understanding of infant head trauma. With funds from an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council grant, they will continue working to create highly detailed 3-D and computational models of the infant brain, which will advance forensic analysis and safety research related to infant head trauma. Infant head trauma is one of the leading causes of death in young children, but there is not enough biomechanical data available to gain a full understanding of injuries to specific areas of the brain, Raj Prabhu, MSU assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering, said in a news release.
Deer in city limits a growing problem
One of the benefits of living in a less populated state, such as Mississippi, is that residents don't have to go to a zoo or wildlife reserve to get close to nature. In fact, sometimes nature can be a little too close, which led to a semester-long class project for Steve Demarais, a professor at Mississippi State University's Department Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture. "Back in the fall, the Starkville aldermen approached us about doing a study of deer population in the city because they have seen an increase in the number of deer-car collisions and reports of deer getting into people's gardens," Demarais said. The report shows there have been more than 80 reports of deer-vehicle collisions in Starkville since January 2010. It also shows 58 instances of "nuisance deer" -- deer destroying private property -- between 2012 and 2016 within the city limits. Deer encroachment on private property is difficult to combat, Demarais said.
Robots Might Gather Evidence Better Than Humans in Child Abuse Investigations
When she was abused as a child, Cindy Bethel felt like she didn't trust anyone enough to share her experience. Instead she confided in Barbie and her stuffed animals. Years later, she discovered that this is a common response in children who have been abused. Bethel, now a forensic interviewer and an associate professor at Mississippi State University, wants to give children an alternative to talking with adult investigators. As director of the university's Social, Therapeutic, and Robotic Systems Lab, she's developing software for a robot that she hopes will be able to conduct interviews more effectively than humans. "I was not sure if they would talk with the robot," she said, "but I felt it was worth investigating."
2017 MACA scholarships awarded to Mississippi State students
During its recent annual meeting in Starkville, the Mississippi Agricultural Consultants Association announced its 2017 Scholarship Award Recipients to two Mississippi State University students: Whitney Crow, who graduated from Brighton High School, Tenn., in 2009; and Shane Carver, who graduated from Millington Central High School in 2010. Every year MACA awards up to two, $2,000 scholarships to a MSU student majoring in an agricultural discipline at the under-graduate, graduate or post-graduate level. The independent crop consultant association-sponsored scholarship program began in the early 1980s, and is designed to encourage and develop highly talented MSU students in agriculture.
MSU Extension offers Horse Management 101
Horse owners and riding enthusiasts can learn the basics of riding and equine care at evening classes each Tuesday from April 11 to May 16. Mississippi State University Extension Service is hosting the six-week course at the Lee County Agri-Center, located at 5395 Highway 145 in Verona. Nutrena is cosponsoring Horse Management 101: Ranch Horse Series. Extension equine specialist Clay Cavinder said the lessons will be suitable for all ages. "Our goal is to provide management and training skills for successful riding experiences," he said. "In addition to lectures, participants will be able to ride or observe riders in a hands-on class."
Starkville Restaurant Week charity nomination period begins
The Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau is accepting nominees this month for April's Starkville Restaurant Week charity competition. The deadline is March 27. This year's event is scheduled for April 17-23, which coincides with Mississippi State University's home baseball series against the University of Alabama (April 20-22), and two of MSU softball's three-game home stand against the University of Arkansas (April 22-24). "We strategically chose (the week) to encompass the home series against Alabama. These guests are within driving distance and are who we hope to attract for return visits to our community," said Jennifer Prather, the Partnership's special events coordinator. Previous winners include the Oktibbeha County Humane Society, Mississippi State University's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic and the university's T.K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability.
State revenue continues on struggling path
Through February of the current fiscal year, which started July 1, the state has collected $38.2 million, or 1.16 percent, less in revenue than it did during the same period one year ago. And when comparing just revenue from general tax collections and other recurring sources of revenue, the state has collected $56 million, or 1.76 percent, less than during the same period last year. That figure excludes new revenue sources garnered when the Legislature swept up various special funds during the 2016 session and excludes one-time sources of money. Unless revenue collections improve significantly during the final four months of the fiscal year, the state will collect less revenue than it did the previous year for only the second time in modern history. In the midst of the Great Recession in 2009-11, the state had back-to-back years of declining revenue.
School choice in Mississippi: Many fights, few students so far
There was the Mississippi Senate last week, working late into the night, having another Titanic tussle over a school choice program. Must be a lot of kids affected, right? Not so much. Between the state's three charter schools and two programs that pay for children with learning disabilities to attend private schools, fewer than 1,000 students are being served this year. There are 482,000 students in traditional public schools, by contrast. Though supporters have big dreams and opponents have big fears for what could happen in the future, thus far, charter schools and vouchers are bit players on the Mississippi education scene. It's not clear whether that's going to change.
Surprise move for Southaven on tourism tax
As the deadline for a tourism tax that generates funds for park improvements in Southaven ticks closer, Southaven aldermen Friday made a surprise move to end-run efforts to derail plans to extend the repealer on the tourism tax known as "Penny for the Parks." Lack of unanimous support for a Senate bill authored by state Sen. David Parker, R-Olive Branch seen as a compromise bill on the controversial "Penny for the Parks" tourism tax dedicated to parks improvements led the Southaven Mayor and Board of Aldermen Friday to convene a special meeting to unanimously pass a new bill that puts the issue on the June 6 municipal ballot. An earlier House bill that sought to extend the repealer on the tourism tax bill for another four years has languished in committee.
Judge Grady Jolly retiring, Trump will appoint new judge to Fifth Circuit
Longtime U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Grady Jolly has notified President Trump he plans to retire on his 80th birthday in October, setting up the Trump Administration's first judicial appointment for Mississippi. In a letter dated March 1, Judge Grady Jolly informed The White House of his intent to vacate his seat on Oct. 3. Jolly confirmed the letter to The Clarion-Ledger Friday morning, but said he has no further comment at this time. Jolly, a native of Louisville, was appointed to the Fifth Circuit by President Ronald Reagan in 1982. Trump will also soon be appointing two U.S. attorneys for Mississippi. An open federal judgeship will likely draw many wanting the post. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker will make recommendations to the president, and the full Senate must confirm Trump's pick. It is expected that Gov. Phil Bryant, who is close to Trump and his administration, will have a big say in any Mississippi federal appointments.
Mississippi plants seeds to elect first woman to Congress
Jennifer Gregory traveled to Rutgers University last week to scope out a program that trains women to run for office. She plans to set up a similar program in Mississippi -- and maybe even help a candidate make history as the first woman from the state elected to Congress. "We need to do a better job of empowering women and of training them,'' said Gregory, program director for the Stennis Center for Public Service in Starkville, Miss. "We need more women in positions of influence. Hopefully that will materialize into a woman running for Congress and ultimately being elected." It's a formidable challenge. Gregory attended the "Ready to Run" program hosted by CAWP so she can create a state version of the nonpartisan training program for women. Plans are already under way for "Mississippi Ready to Run" in Jackson in September.
Senators Cranky About Appropriations Process
"I will never vote for a CR again." That was all the normally talkative Sen. Lindsey Graham cared to say when asked about the prospect of completing his State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill this year, or, as has become custom, funding that part of the government through another continuing resolution. The South Carolina Republican wants to create a new account to help countries in Eastern Europe battle Russian propaganda, something that wouldn't happen if spending is just put on auto-pilot through a CR. But despite Graham's wishes, much of the federal government may be headed toward further stopgap spending.
Trump budget expected to seek historic contraction of federal workforce
President Trump's budget proposal this week would shake the federal government to its core if enacted, culling back numerous programs and expediting a historic contraction of the federal workforce. This would be the first time the government has executed cuts of this magnitude -- and all at once -- since the drawdown following World War II, economists and budget analysts said. The spending budget Trump is set to release Thursday will offer the clearest snapshot of his vision for the size and role of government. Aides say that the president sees a new Washington emerging from the budget process, one that prioritizes the military and homeland security while slashing many other areas, including housing, foreign assistance, environmental programs, public broadcasting and research. Simply put, government would be smaller and less involved in regulating life in America, with private companies and states playing a much bigger role.
Rising-star Democrats are caught in a red-state trap
Democrats have a problem. Their young stars are stuck in Republican territory with nearly no route to national or even statewide office. Leading party strategists say a failure to elect Democrats in red states would put more at stake than just the pipeline of future leaders. The party risks alienating key swaths of voters in red and rural states if its leaders hail only from blue America, the very problem that confronted Hillary Clinton during last year's presidential campaign. "Honestly, if those voices had been paid more heed in the last election, perhaps the outcome would have been different," said David Axelrod, who served as a senior adviser to President Barack Obama. "Because I think they understand the voters in their states and localities and saw the Trump thing from the ground up."
Governors races test Democrats' rift
With 27 GOP-controlled governorships up for election in 2018, national Democrats envision the midterm elections as a chance to rebalance the scales at the state level, where there are currently twice as many Republican governors as Democrats. But already, party leaders are running into a complication -- unresolved issues left over from the Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders presidential primary. Far from defeated, Sanders-aligned progressives are nationalizing their fight, showing less patience than ever for Democrats who don't agree with them. And that's generating fear and nervousness in the South -- in places like Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee -- where some promising Democratic candidates who are looking at running statewide in 2018 could face resistance from the left. "It is critical to recognize that there is a different set of policy issues in the Deep South that are not in play in the coastal areas or the West," said Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams.
2 of a Farmer's 3 Children Overdosed; What of the Third -- and the Land?
A life of farming taught Roger Winemiller plenty about harsh twists of fate: hailstorms and drought, ragweed infestations and jittery crop prices. He hadn't bargained on heroin. Then, in March 2016, Mr. Winemiller's daughter, Heather Himes, 31, died of an opioid overdose at the family farmhouse, inside a first-floor bathroom overlooking fields of corn and soybeans. Mr. Winemiller was the one who unlocked the bathroom door and found her slumped over, a syringe by her side. Nine months later, Mr. Winemiller's older son, Eugene, 37, who once drove trucks and tractors on the family's 3,400-acre farm, overdosed at his mother's home. Family members and medics had been able to revive him after earlier overdoses. Not this one. Overdoses are churning through agricultural pockets of America like a plow through soil, tearing at rural communities and posing a new threat to the generational ties of families like the Winemillers.
Scientists say government's only pot farm at UM has moldy samples, and no federal testing standards
Sue Sisley, a primary care physician in Scottsdale, Arizona, recalls the moment she picked up the carefully wrapped package fresh from the delivery truck. Nearly two years after Sisley and her colleagues were awarded a grant to study marijuana as a treatment for 76 military veterans suffering from chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, her shipment of the drug was finally in hand. But minutes later, as she opened the packets to weigh the drug -- as required by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration -- her enthusiasm turned to dismay. There's only one source of marijuana for clinical research in the United States. And "they weren't able to produce what we were asking for," Sisley says. The marijuana came from a 12-acre farm at the University of Mississippi, run by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Since 1968, it has been the only facility licensed by the DEA to produce the plant for clinical research.
Coast visitors just months away from swimming with sharks at Institute for Marine Mammal Studies
The last few years undoubtedly have been tough for Moby Solangi. A natural-born promoter, Solangi, who has a doctorate in marine biology from University of Southern Mississippi, had to keep relatively quiet about his Institute for Marine Mammal Studies off Mississippi 605 in Gulfport. Without so much as a sign on the major north-south artery, the institute attracted about 40,000 people, mostly schoolchildren, annually. He had to turn down a plan to market the facility, which specializes in research, rescue, rehabilitation and education, because he feared marketing would bring in far more people than the institute, with limited seating around its saltwater tanks, could handle. "We kept it quiet," he said. "We didn't advertise."
Q&A: Black SGA president discusses white support at U. of Alabama
Someone like Jared Hunter was impossible to imagine even a few years ago at the University of Alabama. A preppy black guy who grew up outside a small town near Montgomery, Hunter not only is the first member of a prestigious, all-white fraternity, Theta Chi, but he has black female friends who are officers in previously all-white sororities. This, at a campus where Greek-letter social groups were racially segregated until protests upended the old system in 2013. To top it off, the 21-year-old junior this week became the first black person elected student government president at Alabama with the backing of a secretive, white-controlled campus society called The Machine. Think of Yale University's "Skull and Bones," but with top-notch football and tailgating. Hunter, a political science major and aspiring lawyer, discussed the election in an interview with The Associated Press at his white-columned fraternity house on University Boulevard.
Auburn University's Tiger Giving Day benefits local, global communities
Three of the 22 projects that were fully funded on Tiger Giving Day are giving students the chance to be able to use what they learn in the classroom and make an impact in the city, nation, world and even space. Auburn University's Engineering, Physics and Nursing Departments raised $56,255, $15,730 and $13,280 for its projects. The Engineers Without Borders chapter at Auburn University is comprised of professional and student engineers dedicated to partnering with developing communities around the world. The members design and implement sustainable engineering solutions to help these communities meet their basic needs, according to Colin Stelly, outgoing president of the chapter. Every August, six students and two advisors go to Bolivia and Rwanda for 10 days.
Ethics quandary surfaces over LSU's bid to improve fundraising
The Ethics Board is considering the legality of reorganizing LSU's private endowment foundation by making its chief also answer to the public university's president in hopes of energizing fundraising efforts. Losses over the past couple years in the $616.5 million endowment is not driving the reorganization of the LSU Foundation's leadership. Rather, the motivation is LSU's low level of fundraising when compared to other public universities, said Dan Layzell, the university's chief financial officer and interim CEO at the foundation. "Anyone you would talk to, not just at LSU, but any of the other public colleges and universities in Louisiana, will tell you that we are generally behind the curve in terms of our private philanthropy activities," Layzell told The Advocate Friday.
LSU professor's course on Georgetown slave sale has students confronting slavery, racism
LSU history professor Jonathan Earle knows that most students take a course and soon forget it. But if they're lucky, he says, they'll attend a class so thought-provoking it continues to resonate with them through adulthood. He's teaching one such course for an honors class this semester, focused on a piece of local history that attracted national headlines last year -- Georgetown University's 1838 sale of 272 enslaved people to save the prestigious university from mounting debts. "There was a conference we were at last summer where we talked a lot about universities and slavery. The Georgetown story was big," said Earle, who also serves as the dean of the Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College at LSU. "I started thinking in my head about a class I'd be able to teach here."
Feathers fly in the nest of U. of Florida's legal eagles
As general counsel, Jamie Keith is one of the University of Florida's most powerful executives and one of its most well-paid. But her treatment of employees in the legal office has cost taxpayers about $12,000, paid to a management consultant to counsel her. Keith's underlings were not the only employees critical of her. She was long a favorite of former UF President Bernie Machen. But shortly before he retired in late 2014, he wrote a scorching email that questioned her competence and called her -- and the Board of Trustees -- a "disgrace." And now Keith is tangling with Gainesville attorney Huntley Johnson, long known for his criminal defense of UF athletes. UF in late January authorized spending up to $12,000 to hire an attorney to provide legal advice on the ethics and professional conduct of Johnson's office.
Kathy Deck To Leave U. of Arkansas for Alabama-Tuscaloosa
Economist Kathy Deck is leaving the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville to become the director of community and economic research partnerships at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Deck, 41, has been the director of the Center for Business & Economic Research at the University of Arkansas since March 2007. Deck is the lead researcher for the Arvest Bank-sponsored Skyline Report, which studies the northwest Arkansas real estate market, and serves as host and regional presenter at the annual Business Forecast Luncheon. Deck and her research team produce numerous economic research reports annually on Arkansas' industries. Deck's leaving is a family affair. Her husband, Cary, is taking an endowed chair position in the economics department at Alabama. Cary Deck has been an economics professor and director of the Behavioral Business Research Lab at Arkansas.
Texas A&M gets 'gold' rating for campus sustainability
Texas A&M University announced this week that it received a "gold rating" for its work to make the campus a more sustainable environment. Assessed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education's Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, Texas A&M director of sustainability Kelly Wellman said the recognition is a step up from the "silver rating" the campus received last year. Wellman said although practices such as recycling are the most common associated with sustainability, the STARS assessment takes a more "holistic look" at each of the more than 650 participating institutions. "Many times sustainability is thought of as an environmental-only focus," Wellman said. "Sustainability is more comprehensive than that. It's inclusive of a healthy economy as well as social equity. This is a way for institutions to transparently report their data in a number of ways."
U. of Missouri System president ends executive incentive pay after critical audit
The University of Missouri System's new president has terminated an incentive program for top-level administrators after a state audit criticized the payments and questioned their legality. UM President Mun Choi said in a news release that he is terminating the program that had paid nearly $1.2 million to 18 top administrators between fiscal years 2015 and 2017. At a press conference Friday afternoon, his first as system president, Choi said he will not ask for anyone to return any of the cash. The incentives, which have been highly criticized since the audit came out Monday are "something that happened in the past," Choi said. "Going forward, it's important to me to say we have a new day, especially in the fiscal environment that we face, for us to be good fiscal stewards." He said UM still plans to remain competitive in seeking talent by keeping in line with the market rate for salaries.
New U. of Missouri president talks tuition hikes, program cuts at first news conference
The University of Missouri System will have to cut programs, make layoffs, raise tuition or potentially all of the above if it's going to keep up with funding cuts, new UM System President Mun Choi said Friday. Choi held his first news conference since taking office March 1. The system's fiscal crisis took center stage. UM faces cuts that amount to about 11 percent of the system's budget, Choi said. If the system were to offset that with tuition alone, he said, it would require a hike of nearly 17 percent -- a rate the university is not considering. But tuition is expected to go up. "While we will do whatever we can to ensure that we treat all of our staff members as humanely as possible ... we are facing some significant challenges at our system," Choi said.
Nearly 4 in 10 universities report drops in international student applications
Nearly 40 percent of U.S. colleges are seeing declines in applications from international students, and international student recruitment professionals report "a great deal of concern" from students and their families about visas and perceptions of a less welcoming climate in the U.S., according to a survey conducted in February by six higher education groups. More than 250 American colleges and universities responded to the survey, which was initiated in response to concerns among international educators "that the political discourse surrounding foreign nationals in the U.S. leading up to the November 2016 U.S. presidential election could be damaging to international student recruitment efforts," according to a press release about the initial, top-line findings (a full report on the results, with more detail, is scheduled to be released at the end of the month).
Alabama mayor shows rural towns in South can succeed
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "Rural communities in the South can succeed. Thomasville, a small town in Alabama's poor 'Black Belt,' has thrived under the leadership of Mayor Sheldon Day. Indeed, Day has his folks believing it is 'cool to be rural.' ...During his 20 years as mayor, Day has attracted over $700 million in capital investments and increased the number of industrial parks from one to five. He estimated 50 percent of the businesses along the Highway 43 by-pass in Thomasville have opened during his tenure and sales tax collections have tripled. ...Day is especially proud of the partnership he built among the high school, Alabama Southern Community College, and industries."
State divorce laws creep toward joining 20th century
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "It now appears Mississippi's 100-year old divorce laws will be tweaked to allow an abused spouse to more easily get a divorce. Saaa-lute. Both the Senate and House now have bills with language aimed at allowing an abused spouse to more easily prove such abuse and encouraging judges to more promptly grant divorces in cases of abuse. The state is creeping close to joining the 20th century with its divorce laws. But joining the 21st century and all other states but one by creating true 'no-fault' divorce grounds? Ain't gonna happen, at least no time soon it would appear. That's a pity. The domestic violence divorce reform has -- rightly so -- overshadowed the no-fault issue. But the no-fault grounds reform is also needed. Ask most anyone who's been through a divorce in Mississippi."
Health care debate showcases difficult issues
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "My wife and I are in our 50s and chase grandchildren. So, in my health insurance, do I need maternity coverage? Does my wife need prostate exam coverage? While the answers to both questions would seem an obvious 'no' --- the questions are worth examining both in the halls of Congress and around family dinner tables. The national debate over the ongoing Republican-led congressional effort to 'repeal and replace' the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act with the new American Health Care Act is -- whether by design or unintended consequences -- producing a discussion of difficult issues that American taxpayers should be discussing."

Mississippi State women awaiting today's tourney show
No. 7 Mississippi State will learn its postseason fate this evening. The Bulldogs will host a NCAA Selection Show watch party in Humphrey Coliseum. Festivities begin at 4:30 p.m. with an autograph session before the selection show begins at 6 p.m. on ESPN. MSU went 29-4 during regular season and finished second in the Southeastern Conference with a 13-3 record. The Bulldogs were also the runner-up at the SEC Tournament. ESPN analyst Charlie Creme projects State as the No. 2 seed in the Stockton Regional. The Bulldogs would host the first two rounds of the tournament in Starkville in that scenario.
Bulldogs hang tough, win Sunday doubleheader
Mississippi State's bullpen squandered two late leads, but the Bulldogs were able to battle back to win a Sunday doubleheader against Columbia and South Alabama. The Bulldogs surrendered three runs in the eighth inning to Columbia in Game 1 before winning in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth, 5-4. MSU gave up three runs in the seventh against the Jaguars in Game 2 but scored four in the bottom of the eighth to edge out an 8-6 victory. "Today was a day of perseverance for us where we had a lead, gave up a lead, were down and came back," said MSU skipper Andy Cannizaro. "It was just an outstanding 18 innings of effort out of our guys today and two big wins for our team. It's a great day when you can go 2-0 in a doubleheader, because those are extremely tough to sweep." MSU will close out the round robin series taking on the Lions (0-6)) at 10 a.m. today.
Brant Blaylock, Jake Mangum help Bulldogs sweep doubleheader
Mississippi State swept a doubleheader Sunday with wins against Columbia and South Alabama. Brant Blaylock slapped a walkoff single to right field in the ninth that scored Cody Brown from third base to lead the Bulldogs over Columbia 5-4 in the first game. Blaylock went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Columbia scored three runs in the eighth to tie it at 4. Spencer Price picked up the win after he threw two scoreless innings and fanned three. Denver McQuary made his first collegiate start and pitched four innings. McQuary gave up one run on two hits and five walks while striking out six. Jake Mangum made his first appearance on the mound and recorded the save in MSU's 8-6 win over South Alabama in the second game. Mangum, the league's batting champion last year, recording two outs and hit 93 mph with his fastball. He walked one.
Biloxi's Cody Brown shines in Mississippi State's doubleheader
Biloxi's Cody Brown scored on Brant Blaylock's RBI single in the ninth inning, helping Mississippi State to beat Columbia 5-4 on Sunday at Dudy Noble Field. Brown, who also had a two-run single, started the ninth with a triple. Blaylock had three hits and two RBI for the Bulldogs, the defending SEC regular-season champions. Spencer Price got the win in relief as MSU blew a 4-1 lead. Brown also had an RBI single in game two as the Bulldogs (10-6) completed the sweep with a 8-6 victory over South Alabama. In the second game, the Bulldogs broke a 4-4 tie with four runs in the eighth inning.
Konnor Pilkington delivers gem in Mississippi State's win against South Alabama
Starting pitching has been a moving target for the Mississippi State baseball team through its non-conference schedule. On most weekends, MSU coach Andy Cannizaro went into Fridays without announced plans for at least one slot in the rotation. This weekend, he ended Friday night with three games scheduled in the next two days and one starting pitcher decision made. The scheduling shuffle has been indicative of MSU's struggles to find production and length on the mound. That dilemma applies to everything but Friday nights. MSU has no doubt who it will send to the mound in the opening game of every series: Konnor Pilkington. The sophomore left-hander continued his sensational season with a 7 2/3-inning outing Friday night, striking out a career-high 13 in a 2-0 victory against South Alabama at Dudy Noble Field.
Konnor Pilkington, Mississippi State shut down South Alabama
Sophomore left-hander Konnor Pilkington continued to grow into the role of Friday night starter for the Mississippi State baseball team. Pilkington struck out a career high 13 in 7.2 innings of work and the bullpen took it from there as MSU beat South Alabama 2-0 Friday night at Dudy Noble Field. "I am so glad that Konnor is on our team," head coach Andy Cannizaro said. "He showed again tonight that he has what it takes to be a Friday night starter in the Southeastern Conference. He was really outstanding the whole night. Trysten (Barlow) and Spencer (Price) took it from there. "South Alabama has an outstanding offensive team. We matched that tonight with some really good pitching. I am glad to see things happening for Konnor like this."
Konnor Pilkington fans 13 in Bulldogs' shutout win
Facing a four-game weekend, Konnor Pilkington gave Mississippi State's bullpen just the start it needed. The sophomore left-handed pitcher fired 7 2/3 shutout innings with a career-high 13 strikeouts in a 2-0 win over South Alabama on Friday. "I'm so fired up and so glad that guy is on our team," said MSU skipper Andy Cannizaro. "He's only a sophomore and is going to continue to get better and better every time he goes out there. He's going to be our Friday night guy the rest of this year and next year. He's going to be a gigantic pick in the Major League Baseball draft two years from now. His makeup is off the charts, and I love watching him pitch."
Brett Elliott will lead QBs in return to Mississippi State
Fresh off a year quarterbacking in NFL Europe and two more in the Arena Football League, Brett Elliott came to Starkville to work as an offensive quality control assistant for his former quarterbacks coach in college. Back in 2004, current Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen saw the potential in Elliott when he coached the quarterback as an assistant coach for Urban Meyer at Utah. He saw that same promise when Elliott was a member of his coaching staff from 2012-14. But MSU already had an established offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach (Les Koenning) and his successors (current co-offensive coordinators John Hevesy and Billy Gonzales). To help Elliott get the hands-on experience and on-field coaching work quality control assistant coaches are barred from Mullen needed Elliott to leave MSU so he could return to have a larger role on his staff in the future.
Donald Gray likes Mississippi State's depth at receiver
It's not easy to forget former Mississippi State wide receiver Fred Ross. "It's different not having that blond hair out there," MSU wide receiver Donald Gray said. Ross' production also is unforgettable. His 72 catches for 917 yards and 12 touchdowns accounted for 31, 33, and 50 percent of the team's 2016 production in those categories. Life without Ross in 2017 will be difficult on multiple fronts, but it won't be lonely because the Bulldogs return multiple players at the position and will have several more coming off redshirt seasons to compete for playing time as Ross' successor. "They're doing a pretty good job," MSU coach Dan Mullen said. "The great thing is one guy leads, but a bunch of guys that have played are back. Even though there might not be the big name at the receiver position, there's experience at the receiver position with guys that have played some football. I think we're going to have the opportunity to be deeper at that position this year than we were last year."
Dontae' Jones really is an SEC legend
Sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes for Mississippi Today: "Dontae' Jones was introduced as an SEC basketball legend at the SEC Tournament this week, and you can color me pleased about that. It had to be special for him to be honored in his hometown of Nashville. Dontae' is one of my most favorite athletes to write about. He was a sports writer's dream. Some players see a journalist coming with a notebook and they head the other way. Dontae' would come up and put his arm around you. 'What you need?' he'd ask, flashing that huge, toothy grin. Richard Williams, his coach at Mississippi State, will tell you that Dontae' never met a shot he didn't like. And that's pretty true, but not as true as this: Dontae' never met a camera he would not smile for."
LSU releases proposed design for new indoor practice facility at Tiger Park
The schematic design of a new indoor practice facility at Tiger Park, which will be submitted for approval March 17, was released Thursday in the LSU Board of Supervisors' March agenda. The proposed facility would measure 13,600 square feet and would be situated behind the scoreboard and right-field bleachers. The project was initially approved by the board in September, and the estimated total cost was $4.4 million, according to documents released at the time. The facility features a weight room and an indoor practice field that includes mounted overhead batting cage nets. Connected to the indoor practice facility, on the opposite side of the weight room, new restrooms will be available for fans. If approved, the road circling Tiger Park would be realigned to accommodate the new facility.

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