Area Sports...

SEPTEMBER 8, 2004

Commerce, Banks County to meet in Homer Friday
Banks County will host the Commerce Tigers Friday night for the 23rd meeting between the two teams in the past 34 years.
Geographically closer than any other two teams on the respective schedules, Banks County and Commerce have a rivalry etched in time. Although the two compete in different classifications, the Leopards play 8-AA and Commerce plays an 8-A schedule, hundreds of fans fill the stands to see who will win the ball game.
Commerce leads the series overall 20-2. Banks County won two games in the early 90’s when they had the home-field advantage. Banks County coach Greg Moore added the game back to the schedule three years ago, in part because it collects so much money at the gate.
“It is a big ticket gate and we need the money to support the athletic teams,” Moore said about the community support of the game.
Moore may be looking forward to the financial benefits of hosting the game, but he also enjoys playing against the Commerce teams.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for coach Savage, for what he has done over the years,” Moore said. “They have a great tradition, Savage’s teams are always very well disciplined and well coached.”
Moore won’t say who he thinks will win on Friday, but states he wants to improve on last week’s 42-0 loss to Wesleyan.
“All we want to do is improve on our last game,” he said.
Commerce comes into the game off a 41-27 loss to Morgan County. Commerce also lost a game to Franklin County earlier this season, 21-28. Commerce beat Trion to open the season, 36-27.


Lady Panther mistakes prove costly against rival Raiders
It hasn’t happened often this season, but last Thursday mistakes cost the Jackson County fast-pitch team a ball game.
Up against rival Madison County in Danielsville the Lady Panthers dropped an important subregion game that could come back to haunt them later this season.
The Lady Panthers allowed a pair of runs by making errors and fell 2-1 to their fiercest rival. The game was a typical meeting between the two schools, with just a few key plays determining the outcome of the game.
For evidence that the Lady Panthers (11-4, 2-1 in 8-AAAA North) were the better team on the day, one needed to look no further than the official score book afterward the game — minus the run column of course. Madison County (8-2, 2-0 in 8-AAAA North) recorded just one hit on the day against Jackson County starter Hayley Leissner, however several uncharacteristic Lady Panther miscues enabled the Red Raiders to squeeze out the all-important subregion win.
Brooke Hughes belted her first career home run for Jackson County, a screamer to center that cleared the fence easily and lifted the spirit of her team by tying the game at 1-1 in the top of the fourth inning.
However, the Red Raiders responded in the bottom of the fifth with the eventual game winning run after a pair of Jackson County infield throwing errors.
Madison County’s Melissa Elrod scored from third when Laura Baird hit a line shot to Jackson County second baseman Kayla McNeal. After making a difficult snag on the play, McNeal’s throw to first was errant and Elrod scored the go-ahead run easily. The error was the second of the inning for the Lady Panthers, who also committed three errors in the first inning which led to Melissa Archer scoring after reaching on a walk.
For the Lady Panthers the final result was especially tough to take given the fact that they felt they had the better of the play on the day.
“I felt we were the better team, we just have to start believing in ourselves. It was a tough loss to swallow because we were prepared for them in every aspect,” Lady Panther head coach Mark Mahoney explained.
Leissner’s effectiveness came as a result of high, hard pitches mixed in with off-speed throws to the plate. Her only hit allowed on the day did not end up hurting Jackson County. The freshman has continually pitched well so far this season, filling in admirably for last year’s top starter Brandi Townsend who was lost to graduation.
Despite the defeat, Mahoney was still optimistic about his team’s chances the rest of the way in subregion play.
“I told the girls it is not the end of the world, we get to play them again at our place and we’ll return the favor, “ he said.
The win gave Madison County a one game advantage in the loss column of the subregion standings. The two schools have tied for the subregion championship in each of the past two seasons and are considered the two predominant favorites in the North half of Region 8-AAAA.
Madison County starter Sara Tippins earned the win for the Red Raiders, but according to her coach the defense behind her was just as important as her work from the mound.
“Jackson County played very well,” Kesler said. “We played a very good game defensively. We didn’t make an error so that was a highlight for us.”
“They’ve had good pitching,” Kesler said. “They had the Townsend girl and now they’ve got that freshman for four years. But we found a way to win.”


Round One Goes To Tigers
CHS Holds Off JHS In First Fast-Pitch Meeting Between Rival Schools
The Commerce fast-pitch softball program secured the biggest win so far of its brief history with a wild one-run victory over Jefferson this past Thursday.
The Tigers (3-9, 2-1) armed themselves with a five-run advantage heading into the top of the seventh and held off a furious Dragon rally to take an 8-7 win in the first-ever fast-pitch softball encounter between the two rival schools.
“They took it as a team win and they’re excited but we’ve got two big region games coming up so we’ll get back to work,” Commerce head coach Pam Canup said.
The Tiger victory came 10 months after Commerce downed Jefferson 6-3 in state slow-pitch title game last fall in both schools’ final contest in that sport.
Commerce now faces Social Circle Thursday and Athens Christian Tuesday as region play continues for the Tigers.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Commerce News.


Offense clicking, defense dominating and Dragons 3-0 for first time since 1995
FOR THE first time in a long while there are two teams from Region 8-A ranked in the Class A Top Ten this week, and neither of them is the Commerce Tigers.
Following last week’s victories by Jefferson and Athens Academy respectively, along with Commerce’s loss to Morgan County, the Dragons and Spartans entered The Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll this week, while the Tigers were uncharacteristically bounced from the Top Ten.
But, according to Jefferson head coach Bill Navas it will take more than just the three games his team has played for it to define itself. But, so far things are looking pretty good for the Dragons.
Case in point, is the start Jefferson has enjoyed. For the first time in nine years the Dragons are 3-0, with a chance to go unbeaten through four games awaiting the squad Friday at home against a third-year program from Whitefield Academy.
The last time a Dragon squad started this well it finished the regular season 9-1 before being upset in the state playoffs.
Last week’s demolishing of Lumpkin County was impressive for several reasons and was the best showing Jefferson has had this season, according to Navas. Although they were up against an Indian squad that was hit hard by graduation last year Jefferson was solid on both sides of the ball, according to Navas.
While Lumpkin County struggled to cope with the loss of all but two starters on each side of the ball from a season ago, it was an also young Jefferson team that was clearly the better squad.
Navas attributes much of the team’s solid start to the work his players have put in over the offseason, not to mention the way some of the upper classmen have taken charge in the locker room.
“I told you at the beginning of the year that we had some great leaders on this team,” Navas said Wednesday.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Jackson Herald.


Region statement
Raiders air it out in first region win since 1999
The region win — yes it had been awhile since the last one.
But Raider fans cheered for something more exciting Friday night, a potent passing game.
Sophomore Raider quarterback Jarrod Owens, son of new Madison County head coach Randall Owens, turned in the school’s most prolific passing performance in nearly a decade Friday, going 14-for-33 for 187 yards and two interceptions, as Madison County blanked Jackson County 21-0.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

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