Archive for May, 2008

Boyle falls in baseball final

Boyle County’s baseball season ended Saturday with an 11-6 loss to West Jessamine in the 12th Region Tournament final.

The Rebels fell behind 8-0 after two innings, then battled back to within 8-5 before West Jessamine put the game out of reach with a three-run sixth.

West Jessamine advances to play Harrison County in a semi-state series next week at Campbell County.

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Garrard girls are golden

Garrard County claimed its first 12th Region softball championship with a 16-4 win over Pulaski County on Friday night.

The Lady Lions, who lost in the regional final last year, broke Friday’s game open with a 10-run sixth inning to advance to the state tournament June 6-7 in Owensboro.

They’ll face a tall order in their first-round game when they play No. 4 Ryle, led by pitcher Kirsten Allen, an Oklahoma signee who has set state records for career victories and no-hitters.

Ryle hasn’t allowed a run in four postseason games, and the Raiders have given up only two runs in their last 20 games.

The game will be played at 11:45 a.m. June 6 at Jack C. Fisher Park, where four fields are used for the 30-game, double-elimination tournament. Win or lose, 21st-ranked Garrard will play its second game at 2:45 p.m. against No. 5 Ballard or Pleasure Ridge Park.

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Baseball final set for Saturday

The 12th Region baseball championship is scheduled to be played Saturday even though Mercer County won’t be participating.

The game between West Jessamine and Boyle County will be played not tonight, but at noon Saturday at Boyle. It was originally going to be on Saturday only if Mercer was playing because of that school’s graduation tonight, but Boyle officials set the game for Saturday before Thursday’s semifinals.

Athletic director Jim Spears said West Jessamine coach Jody Hamilton asked for the date to be set before his team’s game against Danville so he could set his pitching rotation.

Spears said if the game is rained out Saturday, it will be played Sunday afternoon, probably around 2 p.m.

The 12th Region softball final will go on tonight at Pulaski County, where Garrard County and Pulaski play a rematch of a 2007 regional semifinal, which Garrard won 10-1.

The baseball title game is a rematch of an April 12 game at Boyle which West Jessamine won 5-3.

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Of rain delays and windmills

First the rundown, then a rant:

The 12th Region baseball and softball tournaments are once again being slow-played, but here’s the up-to-the-minute schedule and other important notes:

Baseball at Boyle County

Today: Semifinals, Danville vs. West Jessamine, 5:30 p.m.; Mercer County vs. Boyle County, 8 p.m.

Friday: Championship, 7 p.m. (if Boyle County plays)

Saturday: Championship, TBA (if Mercer County plays)

The question of whether the title game will be played on Friday or Saturday depends on Mercer, which has graduation scheduled for Friday night. If it is pushed back to Saturday, it’ll be a day game and early enough so that the parking lots can be cleared in time for Boyle’s graduation that night.

Softball at Pulaski County

Today: Semifinals, East Jessamine vs. Garrard County, 6 p.m.; Boyle County vs. Pulaski County, 7:30 p.m.

Friday: Championship, 7 p.m.

No graduation issues here. Pulaski’s graduation is set for Saturday, but it’s at 8:30 a.m., which is a little unusual but something other schools might think about trying.

Of course, all bets are off if another round of rain rolls in, which doesn’t seem likely today but is a possibility Friday night and Saturday.

The regionals should ideally be completed by Sunday at the absolute worst, though I can’t find anything in the postseason guidelines that sets that in stone. In baseball, the regional winner advances to a semi-state series that begins Wednesday at Campbell County, so they would have to finish the tourney by Saturday to ensure that all pitchers get their required rest and are still eligible for the semi-state series opener. There are no such pitching issues in softball, where the regional champ advances to the 16-team state tournament June 6-7 at Owensboro.

Now I get to vent. It’s nothing I haven’t screamed about before, so you have my permission to exit here if you know what’s coming.

Unless it rains a lot — and I don’t mean for 90 minutes on one afternoon — there is no reason why it should take six days to play a regional or softball tournament. None.

I was out of state on Monday, so I don’t have firsthand knowledge of why three of the four regional baseball first-round games were postponed, but people I trust tell me that the rain that came in about 3:30 p.m. went out by 5 and that the field could have been made playable again by 6 or 6:30. And given the fact that Boyle borrowed a tarp that can cover most of the infield, I choose to believe that.

If you have a tarp (check), if you have a holiday in which school hours are not an issue (check) and if you have access to weather radar images (check), where’s the problem in waiting out a rain delay?

Apparently the umpires weren’t interested in doing that after they halted the West Jessamine-Rockcastle County game that was in progress when the rains came, but that shouldn’t have been their call. The umpires have control over stopping and restarting a game in progress, but not over games that haven’t been started yet. And what was their hurry to get out of town anyway?

Monday’s rainouts in baseball and softball brought into play conflicts with graduations at various schools, which are always a problem that must be dealt with this time of year. Garrard’s graduation meant that it took three days to finish the first round of the softball tournament and it will probably take five days to play the entire tournament. That’s three more days than they’ll need, weather permitting, to play the entire 30- or 31-game state tournament next week.

Back at the baseball venue, a perfectly good Wednesday afternoon and evening was squandered because of a conflict with Danville’s graduation. But that ceremony didn’t start until 8 p.m., and it took place less than 2 miles from the tournament site at Boyle, where Danville could have played West Jessamine, a team only 30 minutes away, in a game starting at 4 or 4:30 p.m. and ending in plenty of time for the seniors to get in line. (The Admirals practiced until almost 6 on Wednesday, so they might as well have been playing.) The same could be true tomorrow if there’s a conflict with Mercer, which doesn’t graduate until 8 and needs only 15-20 minutes to get there from Boyle.

These games have to be played some time, and the focus should be on playing them sooner rather than later. I’ve tilted at this windmill before, and I’ll probably do it again. But if God could create heaven and earth in six days, surely these tournaments can be played in three or four.

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Net results

Greetings from Lexington, where there are big doings at the State Tennis Championships, as two local players have reached the singles semifinals. Phillip Arndt of Garrard County and CeCe Witten of Boyle County won their third- and fourth-round matches Friday and will play in the semis Saturday morning at the University of Kentucky. (Click the links above to read stories on each of them on amnews.com.)

This is quite likely the first time that two local players who are not part of the same doubles team have made the semifinals, and it’s the first time any area players have gotten there since 1999, when brothers Lee and Jeff Lester of Harrodsburg reached the boys doubles semis. Only one player from an area school has ever won a state title in tennis: Charles Coleman of Danville in 1933, the third year of the state tournament. (And if you know anything about Coleman, please leave a comment.)

Congratulations are also in order for Haley Hart of Lincoln County, who made it to the quarterfinals to earn all-state honors. It’s unfortunate that Witten had to be the one who eliminated Hart in their Friday afternoon match.

Visit amnews.com for updates on the semifinals on Saturday afternoon, plus more coverage later in the day as warranted.

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The buzz about Jackson

From Somerset to Danville and especially in between, plenty of people are recirculating the rumor that Lincoln County boys basketball coach Jeff Jackson is leaving for Somerset.

But Jackson said he hasn’t talked to anyone from Somerset, where the job came open when Shawn Thacker resigned after nine seasons to go to Rowan County.

Read Jackson’s comments to the Advocate here, and read the Commonwealth Journal’s story on Thacker’s departure here.

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Regional baseball, softball fields set

Some of the district tournaments haven’t finished yet, but we now know the eight teams that will be playing in the 12th Region baseball and softball tournaments. Here’s the field for each, with seeds in parentheses for those who are through with district play:

Baseball: Danville (1), Boyle County (2), West Jessamine, Mercer County, Somerset, Rockcastle County, Southwestern (1), Wayne County (2).

Danville won the 45th District on Tuesday, and Southwestern won the 48th. The other two districts will be decided today: West Jessamine at Mercer in the 46th and Somerset vs. Rockcastle at Pulaski County.

Softball: Garrard County (1), Boyle County (2), Mercer County, East Jessamine, Pulaski County (1), Rockcastle County (2), Southwestern (1), Wayne County (2).

Garrard has won the 45th District, Pulaski has won the 47th and Southwestern has won the 48th. Mercer and East Jessamine play today at Burgin to decide the 46th.

Boyle County will host the regional baseball tournament for the first time, and Pulaski County will host the softball regional. It appears that the draws for both regional tournaments will be held Saturday morning. The softball draw is set for 10 a.m. at Pulaski, and the baseball draw is tentatively set for 11 a.m. at Boyle. Both tournaments are expected to begin Monday with four first-round games.

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Plunging into the postseason

It’s full speed ahead into the postseason for the four spring sports this week.

Baseball and softball district tournaments begin today in all three districts in which local teams play.

In baseball, the 45th District opens with a twi-night doubleheader today at Boyle County, beginning with Lincoln County vs. Boyle and concluding with Garrard County vs. Danville. In the 46th, Burgin and Mercer County meet to begin what will likely be the last tourney to be played at Mercer’s Amos Black Field, which is expected to be replaced by a new field on the new high school campus. In the 47th, Casey County will try to spring an upset of Rockcastle County.

In softball, there’s a doubleheader today in the 45th District at Lincoln County, where Garrard County is a heavy favorite. Garrard plays Lincoln, then Boyle plays Danville. The 46th District , and Casey plays Pulaski County in the 47th.

The three track and field regionals where local schools compete will be held on Tuesday, when public schools are closed for election day. Boyle County will host a regional meet for the first time, staging the Class AA, Region 4 meet that also includes Casey and Mercer counties. Burgin and Danville will be in the Class A, Region 4 meet at Russell, and Lincoln County competes in the Class AAA, Region 6 meet at Pulaski County.

If the weather holds, the track regionals and baseball and softball districts will all be completed by midweek, leaving only tennis for the rest of the week. Eleven boys and 12 girls will represent area schools in the state tennis tournament, which begins Thursday.

Three local players — Phillip Arndt of Garrard County, CeCe Witten of Boyle County and Haley Hart of Lincoln County — should be seeded when the seeding meeting is held tonight. The Garrard boys and Mercer County girls will take their entire teams to state as the reward for winning regional titles.

Two rounds are played each day through Saturday. The girls first and second rounds are in Berea; all other girls matches and all boys matches are in Lexington.

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Football alignment maintains status quo

The KHSAA released its proposed 2009-10 football alignment on Tuesday, and it has almost no changes from the alignment currently in use.

The makeup of the four districts that include this area’s six football schools (Danville in Class 2A, Casey County and Garrard County in 3A, Boyle County in 4A and Lincoln County and Mercer County in 5A) didn’t change at all in the draft that will now be sent to the member schools for feedback before a final alignment is approved by the Board of Control later this year.

In fact, there are only 12 changes statewide, and five of them relate to consolidated or new schools. Only two schools will change classes: Bryan Station moves from 5A to 6A and Bullitt Central moves from 6A to 5A.

The Board of Control approved the football committee’s recommendation to maintain the alignment approved for 2007-08, making adjustments only “on a case-by-case basis.”

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Keeping up with the changes

In case you missed it — and if you had the stomach flu as I did recently, you missed everything for a few days — fundamental changes have been made to the three most popular high school sports. A change in basketball will affect the way the game is played, and a change in football will affect who plays who and a change in baseball affects the state tournament schedule.

Let’s start with basketball. The National Federation of State High School Associations has approved a rule change for free-throw shooting that will leave the lane spaces closest to the basket open.

The change is designed to reduce rough play in the lane and follows in the footsteps of a college rule change installed last season. The rule was installed on an experimental basis in Georgia high schools last season, and NFHS officials said it reduced fouls on free-throw rebounds while keeping defensive rebounding percentages “within an acceptable range.”

The NFHS basketball rules committee also voted against the use of instant replay to review specific situations in state tournaments. Championship games in three states last season were decided by last-second shots, including one in an Ohio girls game that clearly came after time had expired. (See story, follow-up.)

The football change affects postseason play, returning the playoffs to a more familiar format. The KHSAA has jettisoned the playoff format used for the last two years in which teams played first- and second-round games within their own districts. That system was supposed to cut travel expenses and increase attendance in the early rounds, but it proved widely unpopular among coaches and fans alike.

This season, teams from two districts will once again be bracketed with each other starting with the first round. Basically, it’s a return to the brackets that were used from 1991-2005. In the lowest five classes, teams from District 1 will be paired with District 2, as will Districts 3 and 4, Districts 5 and 6 and Districts 7 and 8. Inexplicably, Class 6A will use a different bracket created by a previously approved random draw.

I’ll never be happy about the switch to six classes, but at least some order has been restored to the pigskin world.

Finally, the state baseball tournament has been scheduled to move all four first-round games to the same day. (See bracket.) The tourney will be played Thursday through Saturday, June 12-14, eliminating the off day that two teams previously had between the first round and semifinals.

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