Archive for May, 2007

Traveling tracksters

While you’re out and about and having fun on this holiday weekend, the Danville and Burgin track teams are making their second trip to and from Ashland in six days — for a regional meet.

That’s right, a regional meet. In the world of high school track and field, teams take all sorts of strange road trips to reach the 18 regional meets in the three classes. And one of the regions that makes the least sense of all is Class A, Region 4, where Danville resides.

The Admirals had to make two 155-mile roadies to Ashland Blazer for the meet that is hosted by Fairview and also includes Raceland, another Ashland-area team. The first trip was Monday for the preliminary session, the second was today for most of the event finals.

And they weren’t the only ones packing a lunch. Burgin is also in this region, along with teams from Carroll, Owen and Trimble counties, the farthest of which (Trimble) is 195 miles from Ashland according to Mapquest.com’s recommended route through Shelbyville and Lexington.

To be fair, Fairview and Raceland have made their share of trips in this direction for track and cross country regionals, and they have now hosted only one regional in each sport under the current alignment. But the blame lies not with Fairview, but with an alignment rivaled only in its strangeness by those who create legislative districts.

While schools like Danville and Trimble are slogging to Ashland, Model and Berea drove right by us for a meet at Green County, which somehow also includes both Cumberland and Cumberland County, two schools separated by 195 miles and a time-zone boundary. And a region comprised of Cincinnati-area schools that could have easily taken in the three northern Kentucky teams mentioned above remains a closed community.

There are other inequities as well, such as in a Class AAA region that stretches from Letcher County Central to Barren County, a distance of just over 200 miles.

In an age of $3-plus gas prices, there is no reason — none — that any two teams that are 200 miles apart should be in the same region. After all, the entire width of the state is only about 380 miles.

The good news is that the KHSAA has a chance to do better. The regions will be realigned this summer, so perhaps common sense will prevail and the map will look a little better next time around.

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Baseball, softball pairings

Below are the schedules for the 12th Region baseball and softball tournaments. Stories on both brackets can be found at amnews.com.

 

 

Baseball at McCreary Central

Monday, May 28

First Round

Danville (26-9) vs. Mercer County (19-10), Noon

Wayne County (13-20) vs. Somerset (20-9), 2:30 p.m.

Rockcastle County (22-9) vs. Boyle County (24-7), 5 p.m.

West Jessamine (19-11) vs. Southwestern (12-22), 7:30 p.m.

 

Tuesday, May 29

Semifinals

Danville-Mercer County winner vs. Wayne County-Somerset winner, 5:30 p.m.

Rockcastle County-Boyle County winner vs. West Jessamine-Southwestern winner, 8 p.m.

 

Wednesday, May 30

Championship

Semifinal winners, 7:30 p.m.

(The regional champion advances to play the 9th Region champion in a best-of-3 semi-state series June 6-8 at St. Henry.)

 

 

Softball at Millennium Park, Danville

Monday, May 28

First Round

Southwestern (18-18) vs. Danville (23-15), 5:30 p.m.

East Jessamine (21-9) vs. Pulaski County (16-15), 5:30 p.m.

Rockcastle County (24-15) vs. West Jessamine (26-8), 7:30 p.m.

Garrard County (24-6) vs. Wayne County (16-17), 7:30 p.m.

 

Tuesday, May 29

Semifinals

Southwestern-Danville winner vs. Rockcastle County-West Jessamine winner, 5:30 p.m.

East Jessamine-Pulaski County winner vs. Garrard County-Wayne County winner, 7:30 p.m.

 

Wednesday, May 30

Championship

Semifinal winners, 6 p.m.

(The regional champion advances to the double-elimination state tournament June 8-9 in Jeffersontown. It will play the 14th Region champion in its first-round game at 10:30 a.m. June 8.)

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Quick on the draw

Every local coach who has a stake in the 12th Region baseball or softball tournaments says the draw will be critical because the difference between a tough draw and an easy one might make the difference between an early exit and a shot at the title.

Those coaches won’t have to wait long to learn their fate. Both tournaments are expected to begin Monday — baseball at McCreary Central, softball at Millennium Park in Danville — and both groups of coaches will meet for their respective draws this afternoon. That’s two days earlier than required, but there’s no reason to wait because most of the district tournaments finished three days ago, and the last one wrapped Thursday night.

Look for the details of those draws and the thoughts of those local coaches by late afternoon on amnews.com. Here are the fields for the two tournaments:

Baseball: District winners Danville, West Jessamine, Rockcastle County and Wayne County; district runners-up Boyle County, Mercer County, Somerset and Southwestern.

Softball: District winners Garrard County, East Jessamine, Rockcastle County and Southwestern; district runners-up Danville, West Jessamine, Pulaski County and Wayne County.

* * *

Here’s the last word on ranked teams from the final regular-season coaches’ polls in baseball and softball:

Danville is No. 11 and Boyle County is tied for 25th in the baseball poll. Mercer County is first on the list of others receiving votes, and Rockcastle County and West Jessamine also got votes.

Garrard County was on the verge of being ranked in last week’s softball poll, but the Lady Lions slipped on the list of others receiving votes this week, effectively tying them for 27th. West Jessamine is the only other 12th Region team that got a vote, and it got only one point.

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Mercer draws a crowd to the courts

No matter how good a game tennis might be, nobody goes to watch high school tennis matches. And that’s not going to change. Whether it’s a Tuesday afternoon match in April or the state tournament, the crowd is almost always made up primarily of family members and the occasional boyfriend or girlfriend.

That’s why the crowd that followed Mercer County to the girls 12th Region Tournament last weekend stood out. Mercer’s fan base was easily the largest on Saturday and even on Sunday, when only two of its girls were playing. The crowd even included the school’s principal and athletic director.

But it also included a number of girls who might soon be inside the fences and playing for the Titans instead of outside looking in. Some of those girls are part of the “Rally Chicks” program installed by coach Diane Beauchamp to generate interest at Mercer below the high school level. Today’s chicks, after all, could be tomorrow’s champions.

Many of the girls in the program were on hand Sunday to support Allison Dailey and Ellen Van Gilder, who reached the doubles semifinals and qualified for the state tournament. The two girls said they were grateful for the support, and they said the program that has gotten the girls involved will be good for their team, which will likely be a major player in the 12th Region for years to come. “It’s really built up the program,” Dailey said.

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The contenders (no boxing)

The postseason is here for the ball-and-glove sports, and it’s going to be an interesting two weeks as we see whether any area teams can capture regional titles in baseball or softball.

The short answer is yes, as there is a small handful of local teams in each sport capable of advancing past the regional level. But their number is roughly equal to the number of teams from other parts of the 12th Region than can win.

On the baseball diamonds, the three top local contenders are:

Boyle County. The Rebels weren’t expected to be this good, but they have improved more from start to finish this season than any other local team. Their current 16-game winning streak has lasted more than a month.

The big question: Does Boyle have enough pitching to survive a three-day tournament.

Danville. A 14-0 start that vaulted the Admirals into the ranks of the top 10 teams in the state. The second half has been a struggle for the Ads, who are 10-9 since that start, but this is still pretty much the same team that won the region last year.

The big question: Can Danville score enough runs, especially if its occasionally shaky defense gives up a few.

Mercer County. After paying for a tough schedule with some early losses, Mercer started hitting just before midseason and started winning about the same time. The Titans’ pitching depth has proven as strong as anyone’s, and they have also proved that they can produce runs from anywhere in the lineup.

The big question: Will Mercer finally be able to put years of near-misses and upset losses behind it and reach the top for the first time?

Now for the softball contenders:

Danville. It’s all about pitching at Danville, where Chelsea Wallace can keep the Lady Admirals in any game. The team is hitting better, too, which could be a good sign.

The big question: Wallace can’t strike out everybody — though she comes close sometimes — so will the defense do the job behind her?

Garrard County. The Lady Lions have two pitchers, neither as good as Wallace but both very, very good. They also have a solid lineup that can give those pitchers, Jessica Speake and Whitney Ball, some breathing room.

The big question: This is still a young team, so while they know they’re capable of winning, do they know how to win yet?

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A taste of victory

You can’t win them all, and some teams can’t win any of them. But no team deserves to lose them all, at least not any team that puts forth an honest effort. That’s why it was so good to see the Casey County baseball team finally get into the win column last week, then make a return visit on Tuesday.

The Rebels had come close to winning several times but lost their first 23 games before beating Adair County 11-10 on Saturday. Four days later, they beat Burgin 7-4. (Both teams beat Casey early in the season.)

* * *

The area’s other Rebels have visited the win column much more frequently than many expected, and Boyle County has been rewarded for the second time this season with a spot in the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association poll.

Boyle, which entered its season finale Thursday at Rockcastle County with a 16-game winning streak and the 12th Region’s best record at 23-6, returned to the poll released Thursday at No. 22 and is one of only two 12th Region teams ranked.

The other is Danville, which has been in the poll virtually all season and in the top 25 for most of it. The Admirals fell from No. 8 to No. 12 this week.

* * *

We haven’t kept the same close watch on the statewide softball poll as on the baseball rankings, primarily because it’s hard for a local team to come close to getting ranked.

But in the most recent poll released Tuesday, Garrard County is the next team on the list just below the top 25. The Lady Lions, who have the 12th Region’s best record at 20-5, are on deck, if you will, as the leaders among others receiving votes.

* * *

Track and field’s regular season wraps up this week, and the final meet for most area teams will be tonight’s Central Kentucky Conference Championships at Boyle County. It’s a stern test for even the best of the locals, with schools like West Jessamine and Henry Clay filling out the field.

It’s the signature event for the oldest athletic conference in the state, which was once a big deal in several sports but now exists only for track and cross country. The competition begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Boyle County track.

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Lucky dog

Any success the Danville boys tennis team has in this weekend’s 12th Region Tournament might be attributed to hard work and practice, but it might also be attributed to Rowdy, the dog that has become the team’s mascot this season.

Rowdy is anything but, because she’s actually a ceramic statuette of a collie (I think), standing about a foot high and never making a sound. (If you think about it, that probably makes her the perfect mascot for a tennis team.)

Danville’s Jacob Reynolds said he and his girlfriend got Rowdy as a Christmas gift at a “dirty Santa” party. He began taking the dog to all sorts of places, and he decided to bring her to one of the first matches of the season. “Most of the time she rides in the front seat of my car,” Reynolds said, adding that other teammates and friends who ride with him have had to take a back seat to Rowdy.

Rowdy will be in Berea for this weekend’s boys regional, where area players should fare very well. Twelve of the 15 seeds in the singles and doubles brackets are from local schools, led by Phillip Carlisle of Mercer County in the singles draw and Daarik Gray and Kyle Chadwick of Mercer in doubles.

Nine of the 16 seeded entries in next weekend’s girls regional are local as well. Thanks to a realignment in tennis just a few years ago, six of the 15 schools in the 12th Region are from this area. Here’s the full list of seeded players:

BOYS

Singles

1. Phillip Carlisle, Mercer County; 2. Chris Bright, Danville; 3.Jordan Denny, Garrard County; 4. David Theaker, Boyle County; 5. Josh King, McCreary Central; 6. Zeeshan Asif, Somerset; 7. Adam Stuart, Boyle County.

Doubles

1. Chadwick-Gray, Mercer County; 2. C. Jeffries-K. Jeffries, Casey County; 3. Mojesky-Salinas, Danville; 4. Hacker-Padgett, Lincoln County; 5. Feldman-Ploskonka, Garrard County; 6. Teater-Kidd, Mercer County; 7. Kluesener-Harrison, Garrard County; 8. Super-Erp, Southwestern.

GIRLS

Singles

1. CeCe Witten, Boyle County; 2. Haley Hart, Lincoln County; 3. Amy Puerto, Southwestern; 4. Uta Stricker, McCreary Central; 5. Angela Dailey, Mercer County; 6. Brittany Stykes, Pulaski County; 7. Sydney Crawley, Lincoln County; 8. Whitney Epperson, Southwestern.

Doubles

1. Ce. Clark-Ca. Clark, Wayne County; 2. McAfee-Baeker, Danville; 3. Ellis-Noland, Lincoln County; 4. Van Gilder-Al. Dailey, Mercer County; 5. Ponder-True, Casey County; 6. Overstreet-Emrich, Casey County; 7. Vaught-Meece, Pulaski County; 8. Eubank-Kingry, Russell County.

* * *

Apologies to those who have been regularly looking for updates and finding none lately. Real life unfortunately rained on me for a while, and the updates had to go on the back burner while the storm passed.

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Rebels after dark

Boyle County has found a date for its first baseball game under its recently installed lights. The Rebels’ game Friday against Rockcastle County, originally scheduled for 5 p.m., has been moved to 7:30.

Some other schedule changes for this week: Boyle and East Jessamine canceled their game scheduled for today at Boyle after the two teams played twice in three days recently. Danville’s home game Thursday against Frankfort has been canceled at Frankfort’s request, and the Admirals canceled two games scheduled for Saturday at Henry Clay — one against Elizabethtown, one against Henry Clay — because they’ll be playing across town in the All “A” Classic.

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