Mosquitoes enjoy feast on athletes

Published 5:00 am Thursday, August 15, 2002

As we travel the back roads of Lincoln County and thesurrounding area, the glaring sun beats down on football players.They are laboring through preseason practice, working hard to getin shape. Humidity and high temperatures go hand in hand.

Players and coaches must daily deal with mental and physicalobstacles. Besides the heat, muscle cramps, bumps, bruises, scrapesand dehydration, a new villain has arrived on the scene in the WestNile Virus. Just imagine how the mosquitoes must feel when theyencounte a sweat-soaked, late-afternoon practice session. Compareit to a buffet at a local restaurant.

“Mmmmmmmmm. Hey, buddies, dinner is ready!”

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For desert, the skeeters might meander to the neighboringsoftball and soccer fields. The menu features rare and medium rareportions of body tissue.

Certainly, insect spray is a popular item. Coaches arepurchasing cases of the deet-laden stuff in an effort to discourageskeeters. This is one stock which is going up.

Looking for a can of bug spray at a local store?

Forget it. So-called experts say the number of WNV cases willdrop drastically as the temperatures cool. Perhaps that’s true inNew York and Minnesota but not in Mississippi.

It’s not unusual to see and hear skeeters prowling the skies inDecember. This will be a challenge for deer hunters, too. Besidesthe usual assortment of ticks, wasps and bees, hunters now mustconcern themselves with skeeters.

Deer, with their highly sensitive noses testing the air, cansmell the chemical residue of deet a mile away. Advantage….MotherNature.

The slowpitch softball season has cranked up for area highschool teams. Brookhaven Academy, by comparison, plays fastpitch inthe fall and slowpitch in the spring.

Slowpitch still is a popular item in this area of Mississippi.Fastpitch, the scholarship sport, continues to grow in leaps andbounds. Girls, there are some mighty nice scholarships available atState, Ole Miss and Southern if you can either pitch or hitfastpitch.

Slowpitch does have an attractive side, too. You don’t have tobe very athletic to hit a large ball lobbed over home plate. Inother words, you don’t have to spend countless hours in front of apitching machine to have fun in slowpitch.

Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles also enjoy slowpitch.Their daughters, granddaughters and nieces are capable of hittingthe softball and scampering around the bases. Strikeouts are rareand that helps build self esteem. Certainly, it’s a joy to see themplay the game.

Speaking of softball, Margo’s Cargo made a strong showing in the16-under USSSA National Tournament in Lubbock, Texas. They came insecond to an old nemesis, the Structural Steel Heartbreakers ofNewton County. It was a long way to fly for a rematch.

Lincoln Countians on Margo’s 16-Under team included secondbaseman Lauren Smith of West Lincoln, right-center fielder RandiMoak of Bogue Chitto and first baseman Ashton Williams of LoydStar.

A week earlier, Margo’s Cargo had beaten the Heart-Breakers inthe championship finals of the NSA Tournament in Boaz, Ala.

How good is Eli Manning?

The young man with the quarterback genes is considered one ofthe best passers to ever wear an Ole Miss uniform.

How does Eli stack up in the Southeastern Conference?

Good question. Quarterbacks Rex Grossman of Florida and CaseyClausen of Tennessee are rated ahead of Manning.


Mainly because Grossman and Clausen have a stronger supportingcast. The Gators and Volunteers also have a defense which can stopan opponent’s rushing attack.

Defense. That’s the key.

Ole Miss has had four defensive coordinators in three years.That’s intimidating when you pause and think about it.

Who wants to be the defensive coordinator at Ole Miss?

Rebel head coach David Cutcliffe got a raise and a contractextension. If the new defensive coordinator, Chuck Driesbach,doesn’t produce, he probably will be history by January, another ina long line of coaches who didn’t have the bulls and stallions ondefense to stop the run, much less the pass.

The Rebels kick off their season Aug. 31, hostingLouisiana-Monroe. That should be an easy opener for an untesteddefense. They’ll tackle Memphis, Texas Tech and Vanderbilt onconsecutive Saturdays before getting a severe test after an opendate.

That’s when the Grossman-led Gators invade Oxford, Oct. 5. Bethere or be square. Newly-expanded Vaught-HemmingwayStadium/Hollinsworth Field has increased its capacity to 60,580this year, making it the largest on-campus stadium in the MagnoliaState.

While the Rebels make their debut, Southern Miss will hostJackson State for a sold out contest in Hattiesburg. Around33,000-plus will be in M.M. Roberts Stadium.

By comparison, Mississippi State faces one of the toughestopeners in the nation, traveling to Eugene, Ore., to battle thenationally-ranked Beavers.

Sports Editor Tom Goetz can be contacted by e-mail or by writing The Daily Leader at P.O. Box551, Brookhaven, MS 39602.