Area Sports...

October 22, 2001


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Updated10/19/01, 12:00

High School Softball State Championship
Madison County defeated Dublin 7-6 in 10 innings. They are to face LaGrange at 1:00.

Jackson County Fast Pitch team eliminated, lost 2-1 to LaGrange and 7-3 to Dublin.

Jefferson beat Claxton 13-4 and Miller County 12-2. They are to play Bryan County at 4:00 today.

Commerce lost to Miller County 13-1 and beat Claxton 17-7. They play Truetlen at 12:00 today.

Jackson County slow pitch beat Brantley County 6-2 and lost to Irwin County 10-9. They are to face Bleckley County at 12:00 today.



Leopards hosting Lumpkin
Though the Leopards (1-5, 0-4) have only gotten one win so far this year, the season hasn't ended yet.
Banks County still has four more games to play, with a chance at least at those. Next week, the Leopards will host a solid Lumpkin County (2-3, 2-1) team.
After a rough 0-3 start, the Indians have come back to win two in a row, including a 49-21 win over White County last week. The week before, Lumpkin topped Rabun 49-6.
The Indians, who work out of the I-formation, tout a quick running game.
"Lumpkin County has two of the best backs in this region," head coach Greg Moore said.
Banks has had trouble with speedy backs in the past. Speed has given the Leopards fits all year, including causing several missed tackles at Apalachee last week.
"We are working hard to correct that," Moore said of the missed tackles. "We'll keep working on our fundamentals and keep trying to get better."
Defensively, Lumpkin County runs a variation of the 4-3, Moore said.
Last week, the Leopards revamped their offense and had some success moving the ball. Moore put sophomore quarterback Tyson Baxter under center and moved senior Bill Krause out as a receiver. Banks may line up the same this week.
However, the Leopards are still contending with lots of minor injuries.
"We are still banged up a little," he said.
But with Friday being homecoming for the Leopards, Banks County should be more fired-up than usual.



Softball teams head to Columbus Thursday
The fact that five softball teams within the Mainstreet Newspapers coverage area qualified for last year's state finals in Columbus was nothing short of incredible. Amazingly, area athletes have repeated the feat in 2001.
Five of six area teams - including one in its first year of competition - emerged from last weekend's state sectional round to earn a trip to Columbus for the GHSA all-classification slow- and fast-pitch finals.
First-round action is set to begin Thursday morning, with games continuing through Friday and championship finals set for Saturday.
JACKSON, MADISON FAST-PITCH
In its first year of competition, the Jackson County fast-pitch team has to this point compiled an overall record of 14-10. The Lady Panthers will meet LaGrange in Round One Thursday at 3 p.m.
LaGrange is 19-7 on the year, having split four games with defending state champion Harris County.
"We feel good about it," Jackson County community coach Ricky Sanders said of the event. "We've got as good a chance as anybody."
Sanders pointed to Loganville, Harris County and Madison County as the teams to beat, but said the Lady Panthers won't be intimidated by anyone.
"Our main focus was to get there, so we're pretty loose about playing them. Nobody's expecting anything from us. We're not focused on winning the tournament; we just want to win one game at a time. We're just going to stay relaxed and go down there and play."
Prior to the 2001 season, only pitcher Brandi Townsend had previous high school fast-pitch experience. Townsend was a member of the Collins Hill team during her freshman year.
"We start one junior, one freshman and seven sophomores," Sanders continued, "and we've had every player in the lineup contribute this year. I'm real proud of them."
A win Thursday would advance Jackson County to a second-round matchup, probably against area foe Madison County. The Lady Raiders are 27-5 on the season behind the overwhelming pitching of Lindsay Barnett. Barnett has allowed only two earned runs in the season, both of which came in last weekend's sectional round.
Jackson County defeated Central of Carrollton 2-1 in Saturday's sectionals before losing to Loganville. A 4-2 win over Cedartown clinched the state tournament berth.
Townsend and Haley Freeman drove in the deciding runs in for Jackson County in the top of the seventh inning. Krista Bess singled and stole second base before scoring on Freeman's single. Bess also threw out a Cedartown runner attempting to steal second in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the win.
A win Thursday would advance Jackson County to a second-round matchup, probably against area foe Madison County. The Lady Raiders are 27-5 on the season behind the overwhelming pitching of Lindsay Barnett. Barnett has allowed only two earned runs in the season, both of which came in last weekend's sectional round.
JEFFERSON, COMMERCE
SLOW-PITCH
Jackson County and Madison County are not the only area teams who could meet early in Columbus. Both Jefferson and Commerce qualified for the state finals, and the two rivals will face off Thursday at 6 p.m. if each wins its first game Thursday. Both the Lady Dragons and Lady Tigers will open the tournament Thursday at noon. The defending state champion Lady Dragons will take on Claxton in Round One, while Commerce meets a well-regarded Miller County.
Jefferson blasted through the opposition in Saturday's sectional round, batting around in both the first and second innings to defeat Temple 16-1. Schley County, which also qualified for the state finals, fell victim to the now 29-2 Lady Dragons 10-4 in the second round.
Brittany Caudell led Jefferson at bat with a grand slam, two singles and seven RBIs. Taryn Gurley homered, tripled and singled while driving in six.
Others with hot bats for Jefferson were Sunny Bush (.750), Kenyotta Beasley (.677), Staci Childress (.600), Annie Goza (.600) and Michelle Boring (.600).
In 29 games thus far, Jefferson has outscored opponents 354-41.
Commerce downed Wilcox County 10-4 and Temple 5-1 to reach the state finals, with a 17-4 loss to Buford in between.
Lauren Lance paced the Tigers with three hits while Ashley Evans, Mashenta Hester, Stephanie Damster, Jennifer Pope and Whitney Brown all had two hits.
Commerce led Buford 3-2 early before the Lady Wolves exploded for an 11-run third inning.
"Their big inning wiped us out," head coach Donnie Drew said. "They hit the ball very well . . . We made a couple of bad plays, but as hard as they were hitting the ball, it was their hitting more than our errors."
Stephanie Rainwater led the team offensively with a pair of hits.
The Lady Tigers rallied from an early 1-0 deficit against Temple with a four-run second inning and then padded their advantage in the fifth with a solo home run by Evans.
JACKSON COUNTY SLOW-PITCH
The Lady Panther slow-pitch team rode the hitting of Nikki Sosebee and Jessica Banks to a state berth, beating Tri-County 10-5 and Johnson 4-1. Jackson County lost its first-round game against defending state champion West Laurens, 5-2.
Sosebee was 7-for-12 with a home run and a triple, while Banks had a pair of triples and a double on 6-for-10 hitting.
Jackson County will meet Brantley County Thursday at 2 p.m. in the first round of the Class AAA/AA slow-pitch tournament. A win there would set up a meeting with one of two defending state champions in Round Two.
The 2000 state tournament had Classes AAA and AA divided. West Laurens took the Class AAA crown in 2000, and Irwin County the Class AA title. The two will meet in Round One Thursday, with the winner advancing against the Jackson County/Brantley County winner.
Going in to the state finals, Jackson County is 29-6 on the season.




Tigers Keep Postseason Alive With Pair Of Big Wins At Sectionals
Sure, regular season wins might make the stat book look nice, but victories in the post- season are the ones that get you places.
Look no further than the Commerce Tiger (15-17) softball team.
Despite a modest 11-14 regular season mark, the Tigers are now riding high-state championship tournament bound-after grabbing two wins in the area tournament last week and then two more wins at the state sectionals this past weekend to secure a spot among the final eight teams in Columbus for the fourth consecutive year.
The team, speculated to be in a rebuilding year at the onset of the season, will now look to continue their Cinderella story this Thursday when they matchup with Area I top seed and south sectional champion Miller County at noon.
Should eighth-seeded Commerce top the tough Pirate team, it will move on to face the winner of cross-county rival Jefferson and Claxton at 6 p.m.
But Tiger head coach Donnie said staying alive among the state's best leaves little room for error.
"As Tiger Woods says, if we've got an 'A' game, we'd better find it before we get down to Columbus and have it the whole time we're there."
The "easiest" way for the Tigers to be a dark horse and claim the state crown would be to win four contests in a row. If the team gets sent to the losers' bracket, Drew speculated that it would have to play seven or eight games to pull the feat off.
But to win the state crown with a dramatic season-ending run would require the Tigers to play their most inspired, error-free ball of the year against an imposing bracket of teams which Drew said should be strong from top to bottom.
"To do any good at all down there, we've got to play a whole lot better than we've played all year long," the coach said. "There are not any weak teams down there at all. We're not going to be stronger than any of the teams down there, I expect. We may be on the same level as some, but we won't be stronger than any of them."
And as Drew has preached all year, the Tigers will have to get production from their entire lineup.
"We have two or three who will hit the ball and the rest take the day off," he said. "We've got to have contributions up and down the lineup if we're going anywhere."
The pass to the state championship tournament came via wins over number one seeded Wilcox County and Temple. Sandwiched between the victories was a 13-run loss to Buford.
COMMERCE 10,
WILCOX COUNTY 4
Drew said his Tigers "probably played the best ball game we played all year," in the team's upset of top-seeded Wilcox County.
Commerce struck for two runs in the first inning, added four in the second, three in the fifth and one in the sixth en route to the win.
Wilcox County picked up one run in the second and then notched three in the third.
Lauren Lance paced the Tigers with three hits while Ashley Evans, Mashenta Hester, Stephanie Damster, Jennifer Pope and Whitney Brown all had two hits.
Lance picked up the win from the mound in the contest.
Drew the squad put fourth a balanced effort in the win.
"We played good defense and hit the ball up and down the lineup," he said.
BUFORD 17,
COMMERCE 4
The BufordWolves continued their year-long dominance over the Tigers in a 17-4 rout in the second round of the state sectionals, their fourth win over Commerce in 2001.
"Buford loves to play us," Drew said.
In the loss, Buford trailed Commerce 3-2 after two innings but exploded for 11 runs in the third to break the game open.
"Their big inning wiped us out," Drew said. "They hit the ball very well."
Drew added that the Wolve bats caused a few headaches for the Tiger defense.
"We made a couple of bad plays, but as hard as they were hitting the ball, it was their hitting more than our errors," he said.
Stephanie Rainwater led the team offensively with a pair of hits.
COMMERCE 5, TEMPLE 1
The Tiger didn't let the sting of the 13-run loss to Buford derail them, bouncing back with a win over Temple to secure a spot at the state championship tournament.
The team rallied from a 1-0 deficit in the second inning with a four-run second inning with three hits and three walks and then padded their advantage in the fifth with a solo homerun by Ashley Evans.
Drew, however, credited the defense in the win.
"We played good defense," Drew said. "Temple had two or three very good long-ball hitters, but they didn't hit up and down the line. Our defense made plays when the plays when we had to."
In addition to Evans homer, Samantha Ingram chipped in with a two hits.
Lance picked up the win the game.




Overachieving Raider softball team looks for state gold in Columbus
The words "rebuilding year" apparently aren't in the Madison County softball team's vocabulary.
Instead "state championship" is the catch phrase that resonates among the young Raider outfit these days.
After nabbing two wins in state sectionals this past weekend, the young 27-5 squad-which many speculated would have to go back to the drawing board this season after graduating eight seniors-will pack their bags for Columbus for the second straight year, determined to bring home the state title that eluded them in 2000.
"If you asked anybody who knew anything about last year's team and what we lost, very few people would have thought we'd be where we are now," Kesler said.
With naysayers now silenced, Madison County's quest for state gold will start against Dublin when they take on the Fighting Irish Thursday at 3 p.m. If the Raiders advance, they'll meet the winner of the Jackson County-LaGrange matchup.
Kesler said Monday night that while he "didn't know much about them (Dublin)," he knew that the Fighting Irish, who won their area, "always have good female athletes."
Kesler added that the Fighting Irish are seasoned in state fast-pitch competition, appearing in the championship tournament the past two years.
Overall, the coach said that the bracket looked solid from top to bottom, pointing to such teams as Dublin, Harris County and La Grange as possible contenders while adding that first-year participant Jackson County could figure in as a dark horse.
"Jackson County is capable of beating any team out there," Kesler said.
While the team will have to get past a number of tough foes, Kesler said it is within his oveachieving group's grasp to put a golden touch on what's been a dream season so far-if they play like they're capable of playing.
"There's only one team that can stop us at state and that's ourselves."
The head coach, who's guided the program to 99 wins over the past four seasons, said one of the main advantages the team will carry into this year's championship quest is something last year's team lacked - state tournament experience. Last year's squad was the first to ever make it to the fast-pitch state championship.
"We've got a good group of girls who've been their before," Kesler said, pointing to several girls who played a role in last year's fourth-place finish-Candace Shubert, Amanda Lewis, Sarah Owen and Lindsey Barnette. "They know what it's about. Even though they're younger, we have a few with experience."
While the team is riding the wave of success into the three-day state title event, Kesler said they'll be sure to keep things in perspective.
"We want to have confidence in our abilities," he said. "We're respecting everybody down there but we're fearing no one....Our goal is to win the state championship."
Kesler was encouraged by his team's solid play in several areas during their pair of wins last week in a tough field in the the northern sectionals.
"We played good defensively. Lindsey (Barnette) kept the hitters off balance and we got runners in scoring position and scored some runs."
The team scored many runs, in fact, in their opening round win over Cedartown, surging past the Bulldogs with an 11-run first inning en route to the 10-run victory.
Brooke Kesler led the team from the plate, going three-for-three with three doubles. Lewis chipped in with a single and double in two at bats while Taylor Sapp went two-for-three with two RBIs.
Barnette had her year-long scoreless inning streak snapped but still managed two picked up the win, working five innings, striking out two while surrendering one earned run.
The Raiders then secured their second consecutive trip to the state championship tournament with a three-run victory over Eastside.
Madison County built a four-run edge over the course of the contest, getting two scores in the first, one in the third and another in the sixth before the Eagles notched a run in the final inning.
Lindsay Mason led the Raiders offensively, going two-for-three with an RBI. Kesler and Shubert both added hit and an RBI while Casey Allen, Owen and Brandi Robertson all picked up singles.
Barnette picked up her second win of the day in the contest, working seven innings, surrendering six hits, an earned run while striking out two.


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LOCAL FOOTBALL SCHEDULES/RESULTS

  Banks County
  (1-6-0)
Date Opponent Score
8/31 at JCCHS 12-7
9/7 Jefferson 7-35
9/21 Dawson Co. 0-28
9/28 at East Hall 0-28
10/5 GAC 0-48
10/12 at Apalachee 0-30
10/19 Lumpkin Co. 0-20
10/26 at Union Co. -
11/2 Rabun Co. -
11/9 at White Co. -

  Commerce
  (3-3-0)
Date Opponent Score
8/31 Franklin Co 29-13
9/7 at Forsyth Ctrl 14-35
9/14 Morgan Co ppd.
9/21 at Walhalla, SC 35-24
9/28 at Lincoln Co 13-12
10/5 at Ath Acad 7-34
10/12 Wash-Wilkes 26-49
10/26 Wesleyan -
10/2 at Jefferson -
10/9 Buford -

  Jackson County
  (1-5-0)
Date Opponent Score
8/31 Banks Co 7-12
9/7 at Madison Co 7-35
9/14 at Elbert Co ppd.
9/28 Hart 3-51
10/5 at Eastside 7-47
10/12 Loganville 0-47
10/19 at Franklin 21-14
10/26 Winder-Barrow -
11/2 Stephens Co -
11/9 at Monroe Area -

  Jefferson
  (4-2-0)
Date Opponent Score
8/31 Athens Christian 40-6
9/7 at Banks Co 35-7
9/14 at Johns-G'ville ppd.
9/21 Madison Co 11-14
9/28 at Social Circle 21-28
10/5 Oglethorpe Co 21-6
10/12 Lndmrk Christ 23-14
10/26 at Buford -
11/2 Commerce -
11/9 at Wesleyan -

  Madison County
  (6-1-0)
Date Opponent Score
8/24 South Forsyth 0-17
9/1 Apalachee 36-3
9/7 Jackson Co 35-7
9/14 at North Hall ppd.
9/21 at Jefferson 14-11
9/28 Warren Co 14-7
10/5 Union Grove 35-6
10/19 at Wesleyan 14-0
10/26 at Union Grove -
11/2 Athens Christian -


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