SOUTHAVEN, Miss. - When you consider that Huntingdon
wasn't even expected to make it out of the regionals,
getting to be one of the last six teams standing is a
pretty good feat.
By Jim Steele
The Fillies softball team went 1-2 at state tournament
play here on Tuesday and Thursday, which may be
disappointing to some. But for a team that wasn't even
supposed to make it, losing the last game of the season at
state is a pretty good consolation prize.
Much like Huntingdon's Filly basketball team from two
months ago, this team got on a roll, played well when it
counted and was just an eyelash away from reaching the
Final Four in softball.
This is a team of overachievers. I was mentioning to HHS
principal Steve Perry Tuesday night that this crew of
girls reminded me of the pack of guys that went through
Dresden 15 years ago.
Dresden had guys like Peanut Winn, John Parker, David
Jones, Popeye Jones, Jeff Baker, to name a few. Those guys
played all three sports and Dresden managed to go to state
in every sports it offered in those days.
In fact, Dresden reached the Class A state football
quarterfinals, the Class A basketball semifinals and
eventually won the Class A state baseball title.
Former DHS football coach Scott Hewett, noting that
Dresden had been to a lot of quarterfinal games before
finally breaking through and winning the state baseball
title, remarked that "it's time we quit doing all this
This team has a lot of those qualities. The girls are
tenacious, driven, focused and relentless. Just ask
Trenton's basketball team or Friendship Christian's
And a common link through it all seems to be head coach
Mike Henson, who is reluctant to take any credit for the
"It's all the girls," he likes to say. "I don't have
anything to do with it."
The girls have lots to do with it, but Henson is the spoon
that stirs the pot and his kids respond. It's a good
Sure it's sad to lose, but when people ask these Fillies
how they ended their season, they can always say, until
the end of time, "oh, we got beat in the state
One of the satisfying things about this job is seeing the
evolving sportsmanship and class at work in this county.
As I was heading to Southaven for the Spring Fling, I
encountered several McKenzie people who asked about my
destination. When they learned I was going to see
Huntingdon play, all expressed good wishes for the
Most McKenzie alum are red and gray all the way. For them,
beating Huntingdon is a priority. But it's good to see
that people can set aside those differences and pull on
the county rope. Fillies, you had a lot of Rebels pulling
for you at state.
Meanwhile, it was equally satisfying to hear all the
positive remarks made by Huntingdon coaches, fans,
administrators and players regarding the mess that
McKenzie's girls' softball team endured with its substate
game. I didn't hear a single terse word about MHS from the
blue and gold crowd.
Lady Rebels, you have a lot of fans in the Mustang and
It just goes to show that the true sportsmanship and class
does lie in these parts. That's more than we can say for a
select few folks across the Tennessee River. To know that
puts chills in my spine.
At Huntingdon's game with Forrest in the opening round of
the Class A state tournament, the Fillies were a big draw
with the media. Representatives from the Jackson Sun, WBBJ
TV, WREC TV, Tennessee Sports Radio Network, WJJM radio
(covering Forrest) and the McKenzie Banner crowded around
the field to watch the game.
Some people were wondering why the TSSAA would put a
Tennessee state championship event in Mississippi? I
wondered the same thing until I ventured to the Greenbrook
Complex here in Southaven.
It is an immaculate place. It is fenced in to control the
crowd, there are six fields and teams are easily
accommodated. Plus the fields are in primo condition.
Besides, it's about a McGwire homer from the Tennessee
Speaking positively about the events in the Bluff City,
Memphis has really done a super job with its first foray
into Spring Flingdom. I left there with a good feeling and
many media folks I spoke to had favorable comments about
the facilities and treatment.
I never thought I'd say it, but Memphis deserves a pat on
the back for doing something right...for a change.