Area Sports...

March 13, 2002


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Golf teams trying to play around bad weather
Nearly a quarter of the golf season has already passed, and the Leopard golf team has yet to play more matches than have been cancelled.
The team’s opening match two weeks ago in the Habersham Tournament was called off due to rain. Banks’ following match against Commerce fell by the wayside because of cold.
Tuesday’s match against Commerce and Buford was also cancelled because of rain.
But the Leopards have been able to compete on the course two times, taking one win and one loss. Banks hopes to return to action Thursday against Madison County at Whispering Pines in Comer. The junior varsity team will compete in that match as well.
Monday, the team will host Riverside and Franklin County. The Leopards will travel to Buford on Tuesday.
Banks opened up the season last Tuesday in a three way match with Woody Gap and Rabun Gap at home.
The Leopards shot the low 170 to take the win. Rabun Gap shot 183 and Woody Gap came in at 224.
“This was the first match and the boys were a little nervous,” head coach Chris Colwell said. “Overall, the boys played very good. Take a few bad holes away and we shot a lot better.”
Matt Dale led the team with the low score, 38. Jacob Fountain posted a 42, Drew Sparks shot 43 and Justin Crocker rounded out the top four with a score of 46.
Cody Whitlock and Tanner Goodson shot 55 and 57 respectively.
The Leopards fell 149-180 to Habersham Central in their first away match Thursday.
“We played a really good team,” Colwell said. “We just need two more golfers to stay up and be consistent.”
Dale again led the Leopards’ top four with a team low 36. Fountain shot 39, Goodson had a score of 51 and Crocker shot a 54.
Whitlock shot a 55 and Nate Kelley shot 62.
LADY LEOPARDS
Cancelled matches have also plagued the Lady Leopards as well this season. Banks has played in half of its scheduled events.
The Lady Leopards are set to host Franklin County Monday and will travel to Buford Tuesday.
Monday, the Lady Leopards took their first win of the year, a 66-67 victory over White County in a six-hole match.
“We’re not getting to play a full match because it’s getting dark,” head coach Robin Redmond said.
Dana Garrish shot the low score for the Lady Leopards with a 32. Jessica Lewallen shot a 34 and Jesse Freeman shot a 35.
Banks County lost its first match to Habersham Central by a stroke.


Tigers Look To Snap Two Game Skid This Week
With spring around the corner, the transition to life on the baseball diamond continues this week for Commerce.
“We’re looking to get better,” Tiger head baseball coach David Cash said of the early season. “We’re trying to build on positives.”
After losing two of three contests to start the season, the Tigers will look for those positives Thursday at 4:30 p.m. when they take on Prince Avenue at home.
The Tigers were slated to match up with the Wolverines on the road Tuesday afternoon but the contest was rained out. The game will be made up March 21.
Commerce opened up the year last Tuesday with a 12-3 win over Athens Christian before dropping both ends of a double to Banks County, 8-1 and 8-6 Saturday.
Cash said that his team is still trying to get settled into the year.
“We’re still looking to fill out the batting order and shift some things around defensively,” he said.
Early season-jitters are another thing that Cash’s team will try to deal with this week.
The team gave up five unearned runs in the first game against Banks County and three more in the second game.
“We had a lot of errors,” Cash said. “Our pitching was good, but our errors came at crucial times.”
But Cash said defensive miscues tend to come with the early-season territory.
“We’re still rusty,” the coach said. “...We’re expecting some jitters.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Cash said he hopes the team can be more efficient at the plate than they were this past weekend.
“We need timely basehits,” he explained. “It’s been feast or famine for us. We’ve had a lot of base runners.”
But Cash also saw some positive signs this weekend.
Despite falling twice Saturday, Cash credited his team for not giving up during the second contest while down by six runs to the Leopards. Commerce rallied for five runs late in the contest and put themselves in a position to tie or take the last inning.
“That showed a lot of heart,” the coach said. “We had a chance to win. There were some positive things.”
After their contest with Prince Avenue, Commerce will have a two-week hiatus on the diamond thanks to a scheduling conflict.
While the Tigers will be out of action, Cash said they’ll be able to use the time off wisely.
“That might not be a bad thing,” the coach said. “It will give us time to work on some things and maybe take a day off...it can also give us some time to strengthen our arms.”
GAME ONE:
BANKS COUNTY 8, COMMERCE 1
Early-season defensive jitters surfaced Saturday as two bad innings unraveled Commerce in a 8-1 loss to Banks County.
The contest had a promising start as ? drilled a solo-homer in the top of the first to jump-start the Tigers to a quick 1-0 edge. But that turned out to be the only offense of the contest for Commerce.
Banks County then answered ?’s shot with a solo home run of their own from Ross Oliver in the bottom half of the inning.
Starting pitcher Casha Daniels managed to hold the Lions’ bats in check over the next two innings, but the defense the hit its first lapse in the fourth with Banks County taking a 5-1 lead off Tiger errors.
Commerce’s defense then settled down in the fifth, but ran into more troubles in the sixth.
A bases loaded error at second brought two more Banks County runs home while a wild throw to second base on a steal led to the final Leopards’ score.
GAME TWO: BANKS COUNTY 8, COMMERCE 6
Commerce turned several late Banks County defensive miscues into scores, but didn’t have the clutch hits in the end to complete a comeback in an 8-6 loss to the Leopards in the second contest of the day.
Down 8-3 in the final inning, the Tigers—which outscored Banks County 5-1 over the final two innings—mounted a last-gasp rally, getting a solo home run from Craig Henderson, then cashed in on a botched defensive play which brought home two more runs to cut the lead to 8-6.
But with only one out and runners at second and third, what seemed to be a promising situation quickly died with Tigers popping out and striking out to end the contest.
While the Leopards pushed their runs across in the first game thanks to Tiger errors, Banks County’s bats accounted for their early scores in the second game.
The Leopards started the game with an RBI single from Joseph Whitlock in the first inning, followed by a solo home run by D.J. Ledford in the bottom of the second.
Banks County then tacked on two more scores with the long ball in the third inning with a two-run shot from Whitlock to push the Leopards out to a 4-0 edge.
Casha Daniels then answered Banks’ power display with a home run of his own, drilling a shot over the left field fence to cut the lead to 4-1.
Commerce’s defensive woes returned in the fifth inning as Banks County used four Tiger errors to help them tack on three more scores to push their lead out to six runs.
Down 7-1 in the sixth, the Tigers started their late rallying with the help of some sloppy Leopard play, scoring a run on a wild pitch. Kevin Wilson then followed with an RBI single to cut the gap to 7-3.
LAST TUESDAY: COMMMERCE 12, ATHENS CHRISTIAN 3
Commerce put the long ball to good use last Tuesday in their opener against Athens Christian, crushing three homers to thrash the Eagles 12-3.
The squad got a three-run home run from Craig Henderson, and two-run shots from Sam Cutler and Josh Haynes, accounting for seven RBIs in the win.
The Tigers ran out to a 3-0 lead after an inning of play, moved out to a 5-1 edge after three, 7-2 after five before latching on to a nine-run lead after six innings.
“It was good to start the season with a win,” Cash said.
While the team got plenty of offense, they were able to get a handful of pitchers some quality innings.
Henderson worked three innings, allowing only one hit and one run while striking out three and walking six to pick up the win.
Haynes pitched an inning and a third in relief, surrendering two hits and one run while Chad Jordan pitched the final two and two-thirds innings, allowing two hits and one run.
“We got people some work,” Cash said. “The walks stand out, but it was the first game of the season.”


Diamond Dragons start 3-0; to host Winder
Jefferson’s varsity baseball team took the first steps toward its goal of repeating a Class A final four appearance last week, claiming wins in its first three games of the 2002 season.
The Dragons will host Winder-Barrow Saturday for a doubleheader beginning at 10 a.m., and travel to Prince Avenue next Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday’s home doubleheader with Rabun County was rescheduled for Thursday at 5 p.m. due to rain.
SOLID PITCHING
Pitching was the key for Jefferson in each of its three wins last week.
Kyle Potts started things off right for the Dragon pitching staff, holding Georgia Military College to two runs on three hits Friday for a 5-4 win. Potts picked up the win, striking out 11 in four innings, and Michael Freeman earned the save with three innings in relief.
“I’m real pleased with our pitching staff,” head coach Chuck Cook said. “Kyle only made one mistake, and Michael gave us a good game when we needed it. I’m real proud of that.”
The Dragon bats were nearly silent in the game, however, as Jefferson managed only five hits and no Dragon players had more than one hit.
“We’re far from what we need to be doing as far as hitting is concerned,” Cook commented. “We’ve got several guys hitting over .400, but we need some other guys to start hitting the ball.”
Tyler Murphy supplied the big blow, a solo home run. Also recording hits were Potts, Josh Nabors, Ben Songer and Jeremy Smith.
BATS WAKE UP
The Jeffeson bats awoke Saturday, as the Dragons racked up 24 runs while holding Apalachee to just four.
Christopher Wheaton went the distance in game one, allowing only three hits. Murphy drove in four on two home runs, and Potts pushed three across with a homer and a double. Nabors scored four times, with Potts and Murphy scoring three times each.
Game two saw a tag-team effort from the Dragon pitching staff, with Songer allowing three earned runs on three hits in three innings and Landon Bailey throwing four innings of no-hit ball while striking out nine.
Potts carried the big bat, going 3-for-3 with a double and three runs scored. Songer scored three times, and Brian Wells drove in three runs.
“Saturday was a good day for swinging the bat,” Cook remarked. “We did a lot of things right; we made a lot of mistakes, but we did a lot of things right, too.”
NOTABLE STATS
Jefferson pitchers have recorded 33 strikeouts, while allowing only three walks and 12 hits. The Dragons have reached base via hit batsman seven times.


Panthers continue to struggle in late innings
Jackson County head baseball coach Van Samples has a solution to his team’s late-inning woes: rename the sixth inning.
After a sixth-inning disaster in the season opener that left his team with a loss, Samples watched last week as Jackson County dropped two more games in the late innings, and almost lost a third.
“We played two good, quality teams Saturday,” Samples recalled. “We pitched well and got ahead, but we just had that one bad inning where we wanted to kick it around. I just want us to be able to play one complete game. We can’t skip the sixth inning; maybe we could just call it something else. Let’s call it the seventh, and we’ll play eight.”
The Panthers will be on the road this week, scheduled to play at Buford Wednesday and White County Monday at 4 p.m.
WIN AGAINST WARRIORS
Russ Johnston gave Jackson County seven strong innings last Wednesday in a 7-6 home win over White County that almost got away from the Panthers.
After a Warrior triple to lead off the second inning, Johnston struck out the side to end the threat. A leadoff single led to two White County runs in the fifth after an error, a walk, a successful squeeze play and a sacrifice fly.
Preston Shiflet evened the score in the bottom half with his second home run in as many games. Shiflet’s blast started a Jackson County scoring eruption.
Ben McDaniel doubled, Ben Minish reached on an error and Cody Fortson doubled to drive in the third run. Seth Potts was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and the fourth run scored when Brad Pittman reached on an error. Trey McConnell then sliced a single to right field that pushed two across and made it a 6-2 game.
But the dreaded sixth inning was coming, and White County pounced back into the ball game with four runs of their own off a double, a hit batsman, a walk, a balk, a sacrifice and three Panther errors to tie.
Both teams were then held scoreless before Brad Pittman drew a two-out walk on a 3-2 pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning. Jason Powers came on to pinch run, and McConnell responded to the opportunity with a game-winning double.
TWO LOSSES AT
CARROLLTON
Jackson County traveled to Carrollton Saturday, and returned home with a pair of 7-4 losses, to the host Trojans and visiting LaGrange.
Fortson led off the Carrollton game with a home run and finished 3-for-3 with two homers and a double. Pitcher Ray Brown held Carrollton scoreless for four innings while the offense added another run in the fifth, but the Trojans came back with three runs in the fifth and four more in the sixth to claim the win.
A seventh-inning rally gave Jackson County two more runs, but the effort fell short. Carrollton scored its seven runs on only one hit, thanks to five walks, a wild pitch, a hit batsman and an error.
LAGRANGE
LaGrange turned the tables on the Panthers, taking the early lead with a first-inning run and padding it with another in the third and two more in the fourth.
Jackson County picked up two runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth, but LaGrange added one in the fifth and two more in the sixth for the win. Seth Potts banged out two of Jackson County’s three hits.


MCHS rifle team tops, Elbert, Hephzibah, ARC
The Madison County High School rifle team continues to fire its way past competitors, defeating Hephzibah, Elbert County and the Academy of Richmond County in recent action.
On Monday, Madison County whipped Hephzibah 1,105 to 604 on the road. Aaron Phillips led all scorers with a 293 (97-prone, 98-standing and a 98-kneeling). Kristi Smith tallied a 287 (99-92-96). Daniel Martin fired a 268 (97-75-93). And Kyle Waldroup shot a 257 (97-85-85).
On March 4, the Raiders downed Elbert County 1,131 to 860 in Danielsville. Phillips fired a 294 (100-95-99). Smith tallied a 287 (100-90-97). Josh Chandler finished with a 277 (97-92-88). And Martin shot a 273 (95-83-95).
On Feb. 25, Madison County beat the Academy of Richmond County 1,076 to 934. Phillips gunned a 291 (99-94-99). Martin tallied a 267 (90-88-91). Waldroup shot a 265 (93-77-95). And Ben Willis finished with a 253 (87-79-87).
Madison County will conclude its regular season March 18 at home versus Aquinas.


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