Delta State is moving in the right direction heading into a Gulf South Conference series against West Georgia this weekend in Cleveland. The Statesmen have won six of eight to climb to 7-10 overall. They are 6-5 in the GSC after taking two of three from NCAA Division II No. 6 Alabama-Huntsville last weekend. Jacob Swinney (8-for-13, five RBIs) and Jonathan Moody (10-strikeout complete game) were named GSC players of the week after their performance in the UAH series. Swinney, a Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College transfer out of St. Martin, is hitting .370, second on the club to Brandon Cummins (.382). … Also riding a wave into the weekend is William Carey, which took two of three games from NAIA No. 2 Faulkner at Montgomery, Ala., last weekend. The Crusaders, who started slow this season, are 17-15 and 9-6 in the Southern States Athletic Conference with Blue Mountain coming to Hattiesburg for a three-game league series. In the rubber game of the Faulkner series — a 9-5 win against Eagles ace Kurt Lipscomb — Tyler Richardson scored four runs and Alex Buechler and Michael Wells drove in three apiece. Even bigger: Larson Barkum delivered seven strong innings in relief to get the win. … Melvin Rodriguez, a senior from Puerto Rico, has been a driving force for Jackson State, which has won three straight to move to 15-8. Rodriguez went 3-for-5 with three RBIs in a win over Southern University at Braddy Field on Tuesday night. For the year, the left-handed hitting second baseman is batting .444 with nine doubles, a homer and 30 RBIs. … Millsaps, 15-4 and on a seven-game win streak, hosts Southern Athletic Association rival Centre this weekend. … Either Alcorn State or Mississippi Valley State, both struggling, will get a lift when the rivals play a SWAC series in Itta Bena this weekend. The Braves, 7-19 and 2-6 in the league, took a 10-game losing streak into a Wednesday twinbill with Tougaloo, which the Braves swept. The losing skid started with 13-0 and 21-0 losses at Oklahoma State in early March. The Delta Devils, under first-year coach Aaron Stevens, are 4-14-1, 1-7 with six consecutive losses, including a couple to JSU. P.S. The outcome was predictable when East Mississippi CC met Coahoma on Wednesday in Scooba — the first-place Lions took two from the last-place Tigers — but there is a wow factor in the details. EMCC, now 10-0 in the MACJC, won by scores of 31-2 and 13-2. The Lions scored 14 runs in the first inning of the first game. Drew Standland drove in six runs in the opener, and Kyle Liberto and David Pimentel picked up seven RBIs apiece on the day. Coahoma dropped to 1-19, 1-9.
1 — Career wins for Aaron Stevens, the new Mississippi Valley State coach who notched his first on Saturday, an 8-7 defeat of Illinois-Chicago in the Delta Devils’ second game of the year.
2 — Career wins for Earl Sanders, the new Tougaloo coach whose Bulldogs swept Rust on Friday after dropping their first seven games.
2 — Wins shy of 1,000 career for William Carey coach Bobby Halford, whose Crusaders have won six straight after an 0-5 start. They play a doubleheader today against Saint Joseph in Hattiesburg.
3 — Hits in each of Southern Miss’ first three games, all wins, by Dylan Burdeaux, who is batting .692.
4 — RBIs apiece by Jackson State’s Tilur Smith, Dylan Parker and Jovany Felipe in the Tigers’ 20-10 win over UT-Martin on Saturday.
5 — RBIs apiece by Millsaps’ William Chenowith and Isaac Glenn in a 16-3 victory over Schreiner on Saturday.
7 — Home runs by Belhaven hitters in 12 games, matching the Blazers’ total from all of 2014.
8 — Strikeouts, in six innings of work, by Ole Miss’ Brady Bramlett, in a 16-2, series-clinching victory over William and Mary on Saturday.
9 — Hits in four games, all wins, by Mississippi State’s Seth Heck, who is batting .563.
12 — Hitting streak for Belhaven’s Adam Kowalczyk, a junior transfer from Delaware Tech.
14 — Runs, in eight games, scored by Mississippi College’s Colton Johnson, a freshman from West Jones High.
Coming this weekend: the battle at the bottom in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Mississippi Valley State, 0-18 and 0-7 in the league, visits Alcorn State, 1-19 and 1-5, for a pair of games Saturday and a solo Sunday at Rat McGowan Stadium in Lorman. Who knows what might happen? Valley coach Doug Shanks and Alcorn’s Barret Rey have had success with their programs in the recent past, but things have gone off the rails in 2014. Valley is hitting .197 (last in the league) and has an 8.24 ERA (ninth of 10) and a .938 fielding percentage (also ninth) with 41 errors. Alcorn is hitting .242 (tied for seventh) but is averaging just three runs a game with an ERA of 8.98 (last) and a fielding percentage of .932 (last) with 50 errors. The winner of this series will feel a little better about itself. Not sure what the loser might feel … . P.S. Also scuffling this year is Blue Mountain, 2-18 and 1-14 in its first year in the Southern States Athletic Conference. Last weekend, the Toppers lost a home series to William Carey by the scores of 12-2, 7-1 and 11-1.
Mississippi Valley State, still winless through 14 games, was no-hit by Alabama on Saturday in Tuscaloosa. It was the Crimson Tide’s first nine-inning no-hitter since 1942. … Ross Mitchell, Mississippi State’s crafty lefty, suffered the first loss of his college career on Saturday as the Bulldogs fell to UC-Santa Barbara 7-6 in the Hi Corbett Classic in Tucson, Ariz. Mitchell had won his first 18 decisions. The Bulldogs are 0-3 in the desert tournament (11-7 overall) and face Arizona today. … Belhaven University won its 20th game on Saturday. The Blazers (20-4) swept Blue Mountain in a Friday-Saturday series at Smith-Wills Stadium and are now 7-2 in the Southern States Athletic Conference. BMC, in its first year in the tough NAIA league, fell to 2-14, 1-11. The Blazers have stolen 83 bags, led by Reagan Rutledge with 24, Paul Pickerrell with 15 (in 15 attempts) and Emilio DeSilva with 14. … Mississippi College took two of three from East Texas Baptist in Clinton this weekend to improve to 4-8 overall and 4-5 in the American Southwest Conference. Robbie Jernigan and Colton Mears combined for five RBIs in the Choctaws’ 7-2 win in Saturday’s rubber game. … Millsaps, behind a complete-game effort from Keith Shumaker in Game 2, split a twinbill at Birmingham-Southern on Saturday in its first Southern Athletic Association games of the season. The Majors (9-6) and the Panthers (10-2) play their rubber game today.
On the bright side, Arrington Smith is hitting .391, near the top of the Southwestern Athletic Conference leaders list, and has six doubles. Aside from that, it has been a gloomy season so far for Mississippi Valley State. Doug Shanks’ Delta Devils, two years removed from playing for the conference tournament championship, are 0-12. They started their season by losing a series at Dallas Baptist by the scores of 19-0, 19-3 and 14-2. They’ve also lost to Ball State 12-1, Northwestern 12-2 and Kansas 11-1. They’re 0-4 in the SWAC, having scored just 10 runs in that series against Alabama State and twice getting shut out. Valley isn’t playing any games in Itta Bena this season because of campus construction; the Devils are using Mississippi Delta Community College’s ballpark in Moorhead for “home” games. It’ll be interesting to see how long the winless drought lingers. Valley takes on Alabama tonight in Tuscaloosa. Don’t see it ending there.