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Archives 03-17-2004

Sports

 

 

 

Wildcats baseball team ready to defend district
LA soccer set to take on teams big and small in 2004
Lady Cats set to begin 2004 softball campaign
Seniors strength of 2004 LA tennis team

 

Wildcats baseball team ready to defend district

Members of the 2004 Livingston Academy Wildcats Baseball Team are, sitting from left, Tyler Sells, John-Lucas White, Ryan Bowman, Paul Ragland, Josh Smith, Matthew Lee, Daniel Elder, Justin Bledsoe, kneeling, Griffin Lee, Cody Sells, Andrew Dixon, Tyler Thrasher, Anthony Matthews, Kurt Gilbert, Josh Coffman, Mark Barnett, Johnny Cyrus, Zach Ramsey, standing, Cody King, Jon Maynard, Lance Holland, Bryan Colson, Jimmy Davidson, Shane Livingston, Chris Nelson, John Ward, Chad Moody, and, not pictured, Levi Holt.

By DEWAIN E. PEEK, OCN staff
In his 28th year of coaching baseball, and his 26th with the Livingston Academy Wildcats, 2003 District Coach of the Year Pat Swallows looks for his players to defend their District 7-AA championship.

"We are coming off of being regular season district champs and tournament champs. We got beat in the region by a team that ended up in the state tournament. So, we had a great year last year.

"We only lost three seniors off that squad, but they're three who are hard to replace. They were big contributors."

Those six shoes to fill belong to Kyle Copeland, Todd Rose, and Michael Poston. On the mound, Copeland posted a 9-1 record with a 1.80 earned run average and 81 strikeouts in 62 innings pitched. He also hit .423. Those stats were good for garnering the District 7-AA Most Valuable Player Award.

Rose batted .402 on the season, with 6 home runs, and stole 15 bases.

Poston batted .374 while driving in 25 runs and hitting 6 home runs. He also won a couple of games on the mound.

"But that just allows us the opportunity for young guys to step up and take over," Coach Swallows said.

"We have a chance to be good again, if things go our way and the kids perform like they've been practicing.

"Our goal of course, as always, is to win the tournaments and go on to the state tournament.

"I've got a great bunch of kids who have been working hard all winter. We're ready to get out on the field and face someone other than each other."

Though missing Copeland's MVP presence, the Wildcats return two All-District Team players.

"We have two starters back from last year Brian Colson and Cody Sells. Both of them pitched well last year."

Along with the two all-stars, youth will add new blood to the staff.

"Tyler Thrasher, who's a sophomore, pitched a little bit last year and will step into that rotation," Coach Swallows said. "Johnny Cyrus pitched a little last year, he will pitch more this year. He's done a good job this winter.

"I'm throwing Cody King and Lance Holland, a senior who's just come back out for baseball after being out for two years. Both of those don't have much game experience, but will be called on to throw quite a bit.

"We've got 12 freshmen and they may have a chance to throw somewhere along the line Jacob Brown and Tyler Sells and Griffin Lee would be the top three out of those."

Anchoring the backstop again this year will be Chris Nelson.

"Chris Nelson is our starter," Coach Swallows said. "Jon Maynard backed him up last year, but we've moved him to the outfield. He's got good speed and he's been hitting the ball real well. So, he has a chance to play a little quicker than he would behind the plate.

"Andrew Dixon, a sophomore, has stepped up and done a very good job, so he will be our backup catcher. We feel pretty strong there."

Going around the horn, first base will be manned primarily by John Ward.

"We had moved Kurt Gilbert over, but we'll probably move him back to third because we've got a freshmen who's doing a really good job Jacob Brown," Coach Swallows said. "So he'll probably back him up at first."

Johnny Cyrus is a stalwart at second base for the Cats.

"Three pitchers Sells and Thrasher and Colson will rotate from the mound to third to short, and Johnny will be in that mix too," Coach Swallows said. "We're just going to be rotating that side around pretty much.

"Our speed in our outfield is very good," he said. "We'll have about six who will rotate through

Cody King, who was there last year, he's the only returner in the outfield, Jimmy Davidson, Jon Maynard, Shane Livingston, Chad Moody, and Lance Holland." Cody King also garnered All-District recognition last year.

The team does have one area needing attention. The hitting is not yet up to Coach Swallows' standards.

"That's where we have spots of concern," he said.

Live pitching could be the remedy, according to Swallows.

"We have good enough athletes to overcome that. We should be okay."

Looking at the District 7-AA competition for this year, Coach Swallows predicts DeKalb County to be the top challenger for the title.

"DeKalb's going to be better," he said.

He doesn't discount some of the other teams in the district either.

"Upperman will be okay. They'll be as good as they were last year," he said. "York will be better than they were."

Coach Swallows cited a regime change at Smith County as cause for watching the Owls. The new coach in Carthage has a baseball background and is expected to improve that team.

"It will be a fight this year," Swallows said.

The 2003 Wildcats posted a 21-11-1 overall record and closed the season in the region semifinals. The fortunes of this year's team may depend on putting the ball in play.

"I think our strong points will be defense and pitching. We've got more speed this year than we had last year. So, we'll be better off there," Coach Swallows said. "We're just going to have to pick it up a little bit hittingwise."

The new season was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, March 16 with the Wildcats taking on Macon County at Wildcat Field, and follow with another home game against DeKalb County at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 17.

The Cats will travel to Celina on Thursday, March 18 to take on the Clay County High School Bulldogs, then they will travel to Crossville to play the Cumberland County Jets on Monday, March 22, and then go to Baxter to play the Upperman Bees on Tuesday, March 23.

 

LA soccer set to take on teams big and small in 2004

Lyndon Johnson/OCN staff

The Livingston Academy soccer team is set to kick off the 2004 season with a healthy roster that includes, front row from left, Jonathan McGill, Blake Vaughn, Matt Anderson, Robert Brady, Ben Jolley, Casey Ledbetter, Andy Gunnels, Wesley Puckett, Lance Ruanto, Cory Cross, back row, manager Ross Cooper, Luke Eldridge, Graham Goodman, Jacob Pennington, Phillip Murphy, Drew Randolph, Alex Gunnels, Westley Burnett, Jeffery Cummings, Matt Myers, and Logan Huffman. Not pictured is John Stephens. The Wildcats are coached by Ethan King.

By LYNDON JOHNSON, OCN staff
The Livingston Academy boys soccer program is set to jump headlong into another season.

With perhaps the largest roster since Coach Ethan King took the helm, the Wildcats should have the depth they need to take on most comers.

Or will they?

"At first glance, one might think we're a AAA team, with all the AAA teams we are playing," King said, pointing out the spurt of midseason games in which the Class AA Wildcats will play bigger teams like Smyrna, LaVergne, and Riverdale.

But Coach King is keeping an eye on the big picture, despite the tough schedule.

"We have some tough non-district games this year, but I hope the schedule will pay off come tournament time," King said.

The coach will have a healthy bench to help him combat the larger teams this year.

"We have eight new players this year two seniors, two juniors, and four freshmen," he said. "Some of the newcomers will start, some will bring depth, and some are learning for the future."

Many players from last year's squad have returned, as well.

"We have 13 returning players," King said, noting the experience those players should bring to the team.

"Last year, we were a young team and learned a lot. Hopefully, we can put that experience to work this year."

The LA offense is one area that should definitely benefit from the experience quotient.

"At strikers, we have two returning starters Westley Burnett and Jacob Pennington. This may be the area that our experience will pay off," Coach King said. "We hope to see big things from these two players."

Defense is another story.

"Graduation hurt us some in defense," King said.

"Returning players for last year's defense are Andy Gunnels and our goalkeeper Drew Ran-dolph. We have moved some players back to defense to keep our tradition of good defense.

"One big move is moving back senior Robert Brady to fullback. Jeff Cummings and newcomer Phillip Murphy finish off our defense."

The LA soccer teams, both boys and girls, have always prided themselves in having a very capable midfield crew, and this year's boys team should be no exception.

"In the midfield, we only lost one from last year's team," King said. "The midfield is anchored by Alex Gunnels. He will be helped by Lance Ruanto, Wesley Puckett, Jonathan McGill, Ben Jolley, and Matt Anderson."

Despite a somewhat green defense, the team is keeping a positive outlook on things.

"We lost five seniors from last year's team," King said, "but other teams were hit harder by graduation than us."

The team is serious about its soccer, but still has fun, according to Coach King.

"This group of young men are a great bunch on and off the field. They keep me entertained. They have worked hard to prepare for this season some year-round with travel soccer teams and they can't wait to show the district how hard they have worked."

The Wildcats' regular season was set to open on Monday, March 15 in an away game at Smith County. After that game, the schedule held an away game at York Institute on Tuesday, March 16 and still another away game at Wilson Central on Thursday, March 18.

 

Lady Cats set to begin 2004 softball campaign

photo courtesy of Captured Forever Photography
Members of the 2004 Livingston Academy Lady Cats Softball team are, front row from left, manager Cheya Sells, Ashley McDonald, Coach Mike Johnson, Ashley Howard, Brittany Poston, second row, Brittany McDonald, Jessica Lee, Stasha Babb, Lisa Reeder, Tara Taylor, Jessica McDonald, Kayla Ferrell, Megan Harris, Tiffany Pennington, back row, manager Sarah Norman, Kirstie Dillon, Ashley Mitchell, Whittney Sells, Whitney Walker, Aspen Allen, Sarah Maynord, Casey Emerton, Trista Nelson, Heather Carwile, Katie Vaughn, Andrea Borden, Kaylie Wilson, and, not pictured, Nikki Rohtert.

By DEWAIN E. PEEK, OCN staff
Strong fielding is the cornerstones on which the 2004 Livingston Academy Lady Wildcats Softball Team will be built.

LA Coach Mike Johnson said, "Fielding is always our strength. Our girls are athletic. They can play defense with the best of them.

"That's what slow-pitch does for you; it helps you on defense. It hurts your batting and your pitching. You know, most of these girls don't even think about fast-pitch until they get 14 years-old. Some other places, they start doing it when they're 8, so they've got about six years of experience on our girls already."

That years-old problem LA has faced may soon be rectified.

"They're starting elementary school programs now," Coach Johnson said, "and that should help us three or four years down the road."

In the here and now, Coach Johnson has a team that is very much a carryover from last year.

"We should be pretty good," he said. "We only lost two players from last year, so we have seven of the nine returning starters back.

"We've got four seniors this year. Our two captains are Aspen Allen and Sarah Maynord."

The other two seniors are Whitney Walker and Casey Emerton.

The bulk of the pitching will again be carried by junior Ashley Howard.

"Ashley Howard is our main pitcher, as she was last year," Coach Johnson said. "She was basically all we had last year. We had a couple of girls learning how to pitch, but it was their first year trying and just couldn't catch on as fast as they needed to.

"This year we've had a girl transfer in from York, Tara Taylor, and she's pretty good. She needs to work on her control, but her speed's there. So, if she can get her control a little bit better, we could have us a little bit of a rotation going pretty soon.

"We've got a couple of younger girls coming in who are getting better, taking lessons, and learning the craft of pitching."

Along with Howard and Taylor, other juniors on the team are Jessica Lee, Whittney Sells, Andrea Borden, Stasha Babb, Brittany McDonald, Tiffany Pennington, and Nikki Rohtert.

The sophomore corps is made up of Ashley McDonald, Jessica McDonald, Ashley Mitchell, Kirstie Dillon, Lisa Reeder, and Heather Carwile.

Freshmen on the squad are Kayla Ferrell, Trista Nelson, Megan Harris, Kaylie Wilson, and Katie Vaughn.

For now, the old adage of "practice, practice, practice" will take full effect to continue to fight the effects of years of slow-pitch softball.

"Hitting and pitching are the two main things we have to work on," Coach Johnson said. "We've got good defensive players. They've got to learn to hit the fast-pitch ball, because they're just not used to it. They never see it until high school.

"That's one of the things we'll struggle with. The better we hit, the better we'll play."

Coach Johnson has added junior varsity games to this season's schedule. The added games also changed this year's schedule in order to allow time for lights to be added to the softball field at Livingston Academy. The girls won't play at home until April 9.

The Lady Cats were scheduled to open the 2004 season at Sparta on Monday, March 15. They are next scheduled to play at Monterey in a double-header Thursday, March 18, with the first game to begin at 4:30 p.m. The Lady Wildcats will travel to Red Boiling Springs on Monday, March 22, then travel to Jamestown the following day to take on York Institute, with both of those games to begin at 4:30 p.m.

 

Seniors strength of 2004 LA tennis team

By MICHAEL SMITH, OCN staff
March 15 marks the start of another season of Livingston Academy tennis. This year the teams appear to be the best yet.

Coach Scott Cole said, "We should expect strong senior players, specifically Wrenda Curd, Rachel Barlow, Dana Ledbetter, and Daniel Sweeney."

Those four players are also captains.

Let us not forget that this year's team has its share of up and coming stars. Rex Dale, Andy Sathern, and Dereck Neal have all shown promise.

When asked about how well his tennis players will perform this year Coach Cole said, "If things go according to plan, we should finish very high within the regions, especially with the girls.

"With the guys I expect them to do very well in the district."

The LA season was scheduled to start on Monday, March 15 at Macon County, then on to Mt. Juliet Christian Academy on Tuesday, March 16. LA's teams are scheduled to play against Clay County High School at Celina on Thursday, March 18.

 

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