Area Sports...

March 21, 2001

Track and field takes the spotlight. Pair of middle school meets on tap Saturday
Track season has hit full swing, and if the weather will cooperate, teams from Jefferson and Jackson County will be busy cramming in several meets before Spring Break the first week of April.
Jefferson will host Tallulah Falls and Athens Academy Tuesday beginning at 4:30 p.m. The Spartans placed in four events in the boys' and girls' state meets last year.
Jackson County hosts East Hall and Elbert County beginning at 4 p.m. at Panther Field. Elbert's boys were state Class AA runners-up to Crim last year, falling short of the state crown by a mere eight points. The Devils placed in six track events and one field event. Elbert's girls had two state place-winners.
Jefferson has a meet next Thursday against Banks County and North Hall before Spring Break, and Jackson County is scheduled for a meet next Thursday at Oglethorpe County. The Panthers will also travel to Habersham Central for the Northeast Georgia Invitational at the end of the break week, Saturday, April 7.
Middle school track teams will push their varsity brethren aside Saturday at both Panther Field and Bryan-Keen Track, as Jefferson and Jackson County each host middle school invitational meets.
Jackson County's annual East-West Runoff begins at 9 a.m., with four Barrow County teams and five others joining East and West Jackson in the event.
One half-hour later, Jefferson will kick off the annual Bryan Invitational, featuring middle school teams from Jefferson, Commerce and Banks County, as well as five others.
East and West were also scheduled for a home meet today, and one on the road next Wednesday at Oglethorpe County. Jefferson's middle school teams will not be in action again until April 19.
For the rest of this story, see this weeks Jackson Herald.

Lady Leopards take out Rabun Win is first ever in girls' soccer history
The Banks County Lady Leopards' soccer team got a much needed shot in the arm Friday night.
Banks downed Rabun County 2-1 for the first ever win in the girls' program history. The two goals were also the first for the Lady Leopards this year.
"They just kicked it and kicked it until it went in," head coach Mike Brownlee said. "We're excited. It has given us a tremendous boost mentally."
Junior Kristi Landrum scored the first goal for the Lady Leopards Friday. Ashley Stapleton added the second goal before Rabun scored its only goal of the game.
"I told them we needed to be hungry and we needed to find a way to win," Brownlee said. "We have been close but we just weren't paying the price. I feel we were really evenly matched and the girls just decided to get hungry."
Brownlee said Friday's win carried over into the team's practice on Monday afternoon.
"We had our best practice ever yesterday (Monday)," he said. "We did things we physically couldn't do two weeks ago. They really have confidence now.
"These girls have done everything I've asked them to do. They've been tremendous and they've really worked hard and are committed."
Brownlee said the win was more than a boost for the team but was also a boost for the program as a whole. He said he hoped to get more girls from the middle school involved in camps this summer.
The Lady Leopards will host their next match Friday against East Hall at 5 p.m.

Tigers survive a scare at home
Commerce Outlasts Athens Aca. 11-8. The Commerce Tigers baseball team held onto a victory that almost got away against Athens Academy at home last Tuesday. The Tigers gave pitcher Brody Bearden an eight-run lead in the third and it seemed that the right arm of Bearden would be able to hold the Spartans.
Even though Athens Academy fought back with three runs in the third and five runs in the seventh, it was finally stopped by a timely relief performance by Steven Bihss to preserve an 11-8 victory.
After two scoreless innings, the Tigers put together a string of three hits and four walks along with one error to amass eight runs in the third inning.
The Tigers made it look easy for a while. The runs came without a play at the plate or close plays in the field. Hitters "put it where they ain't," as the late Dizzy Dean said, and were patient at the plate.
Meanwhile on defense they were getting a strong performance from Bearden. In six innings, Bearden gave up three runs on five hits with no walks and four strikeouts. He slowed down a bit in the fourth when Athens Academy scored three runs, but was pitching conservatively with an eight-run lead.
Commerce followed the Spartans' three-run fourth with a solo homer off the bat of Bearden, bringing their lead to 9-3.
"He had an excellent game hitting and on the mound, and for us to be good, we have to have good pitching," said Coach David Cash of Bearden's performance. This was definitely the case on this day.
After a scoreless top of the fifth by Athens Academy, the Tigers struck again with a two-run homer from Chad Jordan, which gave them an 11-3 lead going into the sixth.
With just two more innings to play, Commerce was ready to roll to victory, but was instead forced into a battle. The sixth inning was uneventful for both teams with neither team threatening. Uneventful except for one pitch, which landed hard in Dane Cotrell's back.
Cotrell came in to close out the game for Bearden with a chance to secure a save for himself and a win for the Commerce baseball team, but
For the rest of this story, see this week's Commerce News.

Diamond Panthers hit region slate this week
Though their season began just two weeks ago, Rusty Hendricks' Diamond Panthers will begin their long region schedule Friday with a 5:30 p.m. home game against Monroe Area. Elbert County hosts the Panthers Monday at 5:55 p.m., and Loganville comes to Jefferson next Wednesday for a 5:30 p.m. game.
Friday's event is the first of 18 straight region contests for Jackson County. Region representatives made the decision not to subdivide prior to the season, leaving 10 teams in Region 8AAA vying for four playoff spots without an end-of-season region tournament.
"We know what's coming up," Hendricks said this week of the region schedule. "That's why we're trying to improve every day."
Jackson County swept a doubleheader Saturday against Banks County and Rabun County.
Trey McConnell faced 20 Leopard batters in six and one-third innings in the opener, but allowed only five hits as the Panthers won 3-1. Jackson County made efficient use of its offense, earning the three runs on only four hits and four walks. The Panthers stole three bases in the game.
"That was a pretty good game on both sides," Hendricks said. "The big story was Trey's pitching."
Blake Wilson, the team's hottest hitter early in the season, was 2-for-3 in the game, and drove in all three runs. Michael Savadge, Tim Whisnant and Cody Fortson each had one hit and one run scored.
Saturday's second game was tight all the way, with Jackson County picking up the game's sole run in the sixth inning.
Whisnant tripled to lead off the inning, and Clay Perry was called on to pinch-run. Michael Savadge came through with the key hit, driving Perry in for what would turn out to be the game-winner.
"It was tough all the way through. It was just a battle the whole game."
Whisnant held the Wildcats to just two hits in seven innings, and gave up just five walks while striking out seven. Along the way, he pitched out of trouble twice.
Rabun County loaded the bases to start the game, after a leadoff error and two walks. Whisnant responded by striking out two and getting another Wildcat hitter to fly out to end the threat. Later in the game, Rabun again loaded the bases but failed to score.
"Tim's pitching really well right now," Hendricks said. "In two games, he's only given up two runs."
Jackson County was scheduled to take on Lakeview today on the road at 4:30 p.m. in a game that Hendricks said is important, though not a region contest.
"We're not overlooking that one by any means."
Hendricks also indicated that pitcher Michael Hill may be able to return from a pulled hamstring injury in time for Friday's region opener. If not, McConnell is likely to be the starter.

Diamond Raiders split games during week, stay at .500 mark
The Raiders split four contests on the diamond over the past week, keeping their record at the .500 mark at 4-4.
The squad notched two wins over Morgan County in a doubleheader Friday, downing the Bulldogs 4-1 and 6-2.
The victories, however, were sandwiched between losses to Cedar Shoals on Wednesday and Brookwood Monday.
The team will look to get back to their winning ways this weekend with a home match up against Franklin County Friday at 5:55 p.m. The team will then hit the road to play Monroe Area Monday at 7 p.m.
Joseph Hardigree (2-1) continued his impressive work from the mound this year with another quality outing during Friday night's 4-1 win over Morgan County, surrendering no earned runs, only two hits and walking none while striking out nine in seven innings.
From the plate, Madison County built a 3-0 lead in the contest before surrendering an unearned run in the sixth. The Raiders then added an insurance run in the bottom half of the inning in the three-run win.
The Raiders' offense got started early in the win, picking up their first three runs in the first two innings.
Chad Youngblood drove home Madison County's first run in the first inning, drilling a double to right field to score Eric Power. Three batters later, Michael Young made the score 2-0 with a sacrifice fly, bringing home Jonathan Pou, who reached base early in the inning with a single.
The Raiders picked up an unearned run in the next inning with Chris Burroughs reaching on an infield and later stealing third and coming on off a wild pitch.
Morgan County notched its only run in the contest thanks to some Raider defensive problems in the sixth inning. The Bulldogs' leadoff hitter reached second after an error on a fly ball in right field. The runner moved to third on a balk and then came home after a wild throw from catcher to first base on a dropped third strike.
But the Bulldogs returned the favor in the bottom half of the inning, allowing Madison County to score without the benefit of a hit. Stephen Seagraves walked to start the inning, followed by Young, who reached on an error. Morgan County then issued a pair of two-out walks to force home the Raiders' final run of the game.
For the rest of this story, see this week's Commerce News.
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