Area Sports...

May 16, 2001

Dragons down Adairsville; only eight remain
Jefferson to visit Wilcox County Friday
As graduation quickly approches at Jefferson High School, the Dragon baseball team continues to inch closer to its goal of claiming the school's fourth state championship of the school year. With a sweep Tuesday of a two-game set at Adairsville, Jefferson moved into the Elite Eight round of the the State Class A tournament.
The wins earned Jefferson the right to play Wilcox County beginning Saturday. The Patriots were the top-seeded team from Region 4, and have already defeated Pelham and Metter to reach the round of eight. Jefferson defeated Glascock County last Friday in round one.
"Adairsville was a good team," Jefferson head coach Chuck Cook said Wednesday morning, "but our team effort was tremendous. There's a lot of heart in our kids. I'm really proud of them, that they had the heart to go out and accomplish what they did."
Ben Songer broke a scoreless tie in the third inning of Tuesday's first game with a three-run homer. Adairsville rallied with a two-run shot in the fourth and scored three times in the fifth to take a five-run lead, but Jefferson stormed back with three runs in the sixth to win, 7-5. Ryan Gurley had a clutch double in the sixth, and Shane Wilburn drove in two later in the inning for the winning margin.
Pitcher Corey Hill went the distance, giving up four runs on two home runs.
"The ball carried extremely well in their field," Cook said. "Their home runs just kind of got up in the air and floated on out." Hill would exact revenge for the two blasts in game two with a monster blast that drew gasps even from the home team.
Adairsville led off game two with a solo homer, but Kyle Potts shut the Tigers down from there. An unearned run in the fourth gave Adairsville a 2-1 lead until Hill came to the plate in the bottom half of the inning.
"He hit a bomb," Cook recalled. "He really mashed one. Their fence was 325 feet, and there was a hill about 30 feet high behind it. He hit it on top of that field. He's so strong, he can mess up and hit a ball 400 feet." The blast sailed over a "Tiger Target" sign the home team had erected on the hill.
Adairsville brought out the rally caps in the seventh, and nearly came away with a series split. After the first two Tigers made outs, the third hit safely and the fourth belted a home run to tie the game at 4-4.
Hill came through with heroics again in the bottom half. Potts walked, stole second and moved to third on a passed ball, and Hill rocked one off the outfield fence to easily drive Potts in for the winning run.
"For him to get that big hit at the end was really sweet," Cook said of his senior pitcher.
GLASCOCK SWEEP
Freshman pitcher Tim Murphy struck out 11 and held Jefferson at bay for much of game one last week against Glascock County, but Songer and Gurley drove in Jeremy Smith and Brantley Gilbert in the fourth inning to break a scoreless tie. Jefferson eventually won the game 3-0, with Gilbert doubling Hill across in the fifth.
Gilbert and Songer were both 2-for-2 in the game.
For the rest of this story, see this weeks Jackson Herald.



Diamond Leopards advance to second round
The Banks County Leopards' baseball team is still in the state tournament after beating Monticello in the first round and splitting the Tuesday doubleheader with Calhoun.
The Leopards will play today (Wednesday) in the deciding game against the Calhoun Yellow Jackets.
Calhoun won the first game 7-0 but "the score wasn't indicative of the game," coach Michael Williams said. "We had runners on in every inning but the first". Joseph Whitlock got the loss for the Leopards but he struck out seven in four innings.
Whitlock also got the win in the second game. Corey Sims started and "did a good job. He kept us in it," said Williams.
The Leopards scored in the first off a sacrifice fly from Ross Oliver. In the third Whitlock and Bray Maxwell scored.
The Leopards went into the seventh inning down 7-3.
Whitlock and Hank Jones drew walks with one out in the seventh. Then Ross Oliver was hit by a pitch and the bases were loaded. Drew Gowder then drew another walk and the score was 7-4.
The second out was made and then Casey Murray hit a bullet down the right field line for a three-RBI triple and a tie ball game.
Joe Krause led off the eighth with a walk and reached second on a passed ball and then got to third on a fielders' choice. Jones came to the plate with two outs in the inning and got a base hit to right field which scored Krause for the game winner.
The Leopards won the second game 8-7.
First they met Monticello Friday, May 11, and Saturday, May 12, in a three game series in round one.
Game 1
The Banks County boys came out ready to play in their first game in the state playoffs in a long time. "We came out fired up and ready to play," coach Mike Williams said.
Monticello scored first in the game. The first run came in the top of the first with an error on a throw during an attempted steal that brought a run in with two outs. Pitcher Joseph Whitlock then struck out the last batter for what was already his third strikeout of the game.
Whitlock also struck out the side in the second.
Both teams went scoreless until the top of the third when the Hurricanes struck again, and again it was unearned. The score remained 2-0 in favor of the Hurricanes until the Leopards put together an offensive strike in the fourth.
Duran Bellotte reached first on an error. He was followed by Casey Murray, who hit a ball that should have been a double play, but the second baseman pulled off the bag. Clint Angel hit a ball to the shortstop that stuck in the glove and the bases were loaded.
Joe Krause took a pitch in the back and the Leopards scored their first run. Eli Cooper then hit a ground ball to third that was thrown back home for the force play at the plate.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Banks County News



Westmoreland Finishes Sixth In State Two Mile
Christy Westmoreland was the only girl sent to represent Commerce at the 2001 girls' state competition. She came back home with a sixth place medal.
Westmoreland's 3200-meter race was run in the rain on a new track surface in Albany. But the rain didn't slow Westmoreland's performance. She improved on her second-place region time and was able to beat the runner that had finished ahead of her in region competition. Westmoreland ran her region race in 13 minutes and 41 seconds. In state competition she completed the race in 13 minutes and 15 seconds.
"It was good conditions for the atheletes. It was cool, not hot. They had a brand new surface. The drizzling rain wasn't good for the spectators but it was an excellent condition for a runner to put up a good time," coach Terry Canup commented.
Westmoreland finished fifth in this year's state cross country competition, which is a 3.1-mile race, and after running track for four years had set a goal of a top six finish in the 3200-meter. She accomplished that goal in her last race for Commerce High School.
Canup said, "We will miss her, her work habits and work ethic. She is an outstanding young lady."
Westmoreland plans to attend the University of Georgia next year and study exercise science.




Smith named Panther boys' basketball coach
The Jackson County Board of Education voted Thursday to hire Hall County native Ron Smith as the new boys' basketball coach at Jackson County Comprehensive High School.
"We're excited to have someone of Ron's reputation and stature join our program," system superintendent Andy Byers said of the move. "We look forward to our boys' basketball program moving forward."
Smith is a 1985 graduate of North Hall High School. He attended Truett-McConnell College for two years and completed his Master's Degree at North Georgia College.
"I'm really excited about this opportunity," Smith said earlier this week. "I know Coach Garren has done a good job there. I've never met him, but he was the head coach at Winder-Barrow when I played. I respect what he's done at Jackson County. He's laid a good foundation, and I hope to be able to come in and build on it."
If Smith follows Garren's lead and moves into his predecessor's office, he'll find a familiar face across the room in girls' coach Annette Watts. Watts was the girls' coach at Johnson High School in 1991, when Smith was a student teacher there.
"I really look forward to working with her," Smith said of Watts. "She's a true professional."
Smith got his first coaching job as an assistant at Buford in 1991, and was the head coach at Pike County in 1993 and 1994. During his term, Pike County won 39 games, including two region championships, a trip to the state final four and another to the state quarterfinals.
Smith left Pike County for Alexander High School in 1994, and coached there for four years. He is currently teaching physical education at Fair Play Middle School in Douglas County.
"I'm not sure about anything else," Smith said when asked what other sports he might coach at Jackson County. "I'm just ready to get in there and get my hands dirty."
Smith said he plans to meet with the Panthers some time this week, and spend a few days at the school.


A season of Lady Raider . . .
You know you're getting attention when the police get involved.
Two-sport athlete Sheena Mason remembers the state tournament-bound softball team being given a police escort to the county line this past fall.
No, the law enforcement officials weren't trying to track down any fugitives being smuggled on the Madison County bus.
It was their way of wishing the team well as they went to the state sectionals.
And then Mason remembers the team returning home from the trip to hero's welcome, complete with confetti, banners and balloons.
"It was just a great feeling to see people get that involved," she recalls.
And there was plenty of reason for people to get involved in Lady Raider athletics over the past eight months.
From the diamond, to the hardfloor, to the tennis courts or soccer field, 2000-2001 has been a banner year and the numbers don't lie.
The girls' softball, basketball, tennis, soccer and volleyball teams combined for an 84-37-1 record (.688 winning percentage), earned five state tournament appearances, two region or area championships and two region runners-up. The Madison County rifle team, with girls taking three of the four starting positions, grabbed its third state title in four years.
According to head softball coach Doug Kesler, a hardworking group of girls were the substance behind the luster that the year brought.
"I think we have some good athletes-and I don't want anyone to take this the wrong way-but we don't have a bunch of super athletes," Kesler explained. "But what we had were girls that were overachievers, that did whatever it took. And it didn't take everybody, it just took a few to set that example for everyone to follow. They made everybody better and other girls would be embarrassed if they didn't put out the same effort."
Head basketball Tim Cook echoed Kesler's praise of the leadership demonstrated in girls' sports this year.
"It's been a good year for girls' sports here in Madison County and we have some girls coming up to recapture it," he said. "The question is, do they have the work ethic to duplicate what the girls who are going out the door did?"
Veteran influence was certainly a common thread in Madison County winning nearly 70 percent of their girls' sporting events.
The programs were guided by a host of multi-sport senior athletes making their final seasons in Raiders uniforms memorable ones with veterans like Renee Mathews, Mason, Valerie Norman, Stacie Beard, Heather Jones, Brittney Escoe and Ashley Myers keying in the success of several of the girls' teams' region and state tournament triumphs.
But 2000-2001 will also be memorable for any female athlete involved with Lady Raider success. Winning spanned the duration of the school year.
For a school already known for a tradition of success in both baseball and softball, it was fitting that the winning ways started on the diamond early on with Kesler's softball team making a run deep into the state tournament in October.
"Softball kind of got the year off to a good start and set a benchmark," Kesler said. "And then the basketball team didn't want to be outdone and I think that carried over to other sports...There were just girls willing to make that commitment."
Perhaps the winning fever did become contagious.
The volleyball team also made a state tournament appearance at the same time as the softball team in the fall. The girls' basketball team then made their strongest showing on the hardfloor since 1988, providing Raider fans with an action-packed winter with Cook's squad making a spirited run to the Elite Eight of the AAA state tournament.
The spring season then saw two more state tourney berths with the tennis team winning the region and advancing to state while the soccer team broke ground with its first state showing in the program's history.
For the rest of thiestory, see this weeks Madison County Journal.


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