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Archives 05-19-2004

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Cats season turns on fateful coin flip
Cats win District 9-A/AA Championship
Lady Cats season ends in tournament




 

Cats season turns on fateful coin flip

By DEWAIN E. PEEK, OCN staff
A coin flip turned the season for Livingston Academy's Wildcats.

With one deciding game left in the District 7-AA Tournament, rain and bad timing forced a coin flip to determine the number 1 and number 2 district teams entering this week's regional. DeKalb County won the fateful toss, giving the Tigers a home game, and Livingston Academy was put on the road to David Lipscomb.

Before the flip decision, the Wildcats had fought their way to the top spot in the district tourney.

The tournament at Smithville was scheduled to begin on Monday, May 10, but was rained out.

LA faced York Institute on Tuesday, May 11 and won 5-4.

Brian Colson was the winning pitcher for LA, giving up 2 earned runs on 5 hits, while striking out 4. LA committed 3 errors in the game.

Colson helped himself offensively with 2 home runs in 3 official at-bats.

Jimmy Davidson also went 2 for 3 in the game.

Senior Cody King hit a home run, and Chris Nelson, Johnny Cyrus, and Andrew Dixon each had a hit.

LA Baseball Coach Pat Swallows said, "We didn't play as well as we are capable of playing, again, because we made those mistakes, let them get back into the game.

"They loaded the bases in the top of the seventh with nobody out, with us up 5-4. I had to bring Cody in to get us out of the inning. He got a save. Tyler Thrasher scored a run, and Jimmy Davidson scored a run.

"That put us in the winner's bracket."

Livingston faced DeKalb County on Wednesday, May 12, and the rains came again. The game was moved to Tennessee Tech, and the neutral site was just fine for the Wildcats.

"We probably played the best game we've played all year," Coach Swallows said. "Cody Sells was just outstanding on the mound.

"He took a no-hitter into the seventh. He gave up a double in the seventh, and then came back and struck out the next two guys, and then had a ground out."

Cody Sells struck out 9 Tigers 3-0 in the 3-0 win. He was timed at 88 mph late in the game, according to Swallows.

"It was just a great, great game," Coach Swallows said.

LA's 3 runs came in the first inning. Andrew Dixon led off with a single. After LA had two outs, Cody King got a hit, and then Cody Sells doubled in Dixon and King. Then Brian Colson drove in Sells with a single.

Johnny Cyrus and Tyler Thrasher each had a hit in the game.

The win put the Wildcats in the winner's bracket championship, where they would have to be beaten twice.

DeKalb County defeated York 6-5 to move into the championship against LA on Friday, May 14.

The Tigers defeated the Wildcats 4-9, giving Tyler Thrasher a loss on the mound for LA.

"That meant we had to turn around and play again Friday night," Coach Swallows said. "Well, it started raining. It rained it out Friday night.

"We were going to play on Saturday. So, it rained it out on Saturday, which means we had to go to a coin flip to determine the number 1 and 2 seed, and we lost the coin flip.

"So, it's a horrible way to determine a district championship, and something's got to be done. Our coaches have got to get together and make some decisions start earlier, or do something. Because it's not fair for these kids not to be able to have a chance to play on our home field just because of a coin flip.

"If you get beat that's one thing, but, you know, don't lose it on a coin flip. But there's nothing else we could do."

The teams had looked into going to a neutral site, but could not find one available.

"And they wouldn't agree to come here, of course," Coach Swallows said.

The Wildcats travelled to play David Lipscomb on Monday, May 17, and lost 0-3, ending their season at 20-16 overall.

Before the game, Coach Swallows said, "Regardless of what happens now, we've had a good, productive season. This is two years in a row we've won 20, and two years in a row we've gone to the region."

 

Cats win District 9-A/AA Championship

Lyndon Johnson/OCN staff
The Livingston Academy soccer team, along with its Powerade-soaked coach, poses with the trophy won in the District 9-A/AA tournament finals on Thursday, May 13. Team members are, front row from left, Luke Eldridge, Robert Brady, Drew Randolph, Phillip Murphy, Lance Ruanto, middle row, Casey Ledbetter, Andy Gunnels, Matt Anderson, back row, Coach Ethan King, Ben Jolley, Graham Goodman, Cory Cross, Jacob Pennington, Westley Burnett, Jonathan McGill, Wesley Puckett, Alex Gunnels, Blake Vaughn, and Matt Myers. Not pictured is team member Logan Huffman.

By LYNDON JOHNSON, OCN staff
The Livingston Academy soccer squad knew they were going into the District 9-A/AA semifinals, getting a bye in the first round of the tournament because of their number 1-seeded status. But that didn't stop them from playing good footy in their last game before the postseason against York Institute's Dragons on Tuesday, May 4.

Wesley Puckett and Alex Gunnels both scored a goal apiece, while Westley Burnett and Jacob Pennington both scored 2 goals apiece to make the score 6-0 at the end of 80 minutes.

Games resulting in 6-0 scores became commonplace, with LA's semifinal game in the District 9-A/AA tournament against Mt. Juliet Christian Academy on Tuesday, May 11 adding up to the same sum.

The dynamic duo of Burnett and Pennington again led scoring for the Wildcats with 2 goals apiece, while Lance Ruanto and Robert Brady both scored singles, Ruanto's example coming in the form of a penalty kick.

The Wildcats went for the trifecta on Thursday, May 13, facing the DeKalb County Tigers in a very spirited contest for the district championship.

For the opening 15 minutes, both teams were tit-for-tat, neither making enough headway to edge above the other. Possession of the ball changed frequently, and there were several chances for either team to score a goal, most notably an attempt by LA that saw the DeKalb keeper stop the ball not once, not twice, but three times in the space of a few seconds.

Things opened up with a Burnett goal, and it was all Livingston Academy from that point onward. Burnett scored 2 goals on the evening, with Pennington again mirroring his performance. Alex Gunnels had a goal, as did Wesley Puckett.

With the 6-0 trifecta completed and the District Championship trophy theirs, LA moved on to Region 5A-AA semifinals to face Gallatin's Station Camp Bisons in Livingston on Tuesday, May 18.

LA Soccer Coach Ethan King said, "This is an elimination round. Winner goes on, loser goes home.

"They've got a good team, and they've got a big team, but we'll be ready."

 

Lady Cats season ends in tournament

Seniors who struggled through a tough 10-17 junior season came into this year as seasoned veterans to lead their team to a 20-18 record this year.

Though the Livingston Academy Lady Wildcats' 2004 season ended in the District 7-AA Tournament, Coach Mike Johnson is happy with the successes of his team.

"We had a great season this year," he said.

Even the disappointment with the outcome of the district tournament didn't take away from his admiration of the team's accomplishment.

"We went 2-2 in the district tournament," he said. "This was the first year in about four years that we've won a district tournament game, so that was an improvement."

The tournament was scheduled to begin Monday, May 10, but rain forced the opening round to Tuesday, May 11. LA faced Cannon County and won 8-4.

"We scored 5 runs in the second inning," Coach Johnson said, "and that kind of put the game away right there. We got a big lead on them.

"They scored a few runs, but we stayed out in front of them the whole game and pretty much dominated."

Tara Taylor was the winning pitcher, throwing for all seven innings. She struck out 11 Lady Lions while giving up 4 runs on 8 hits.

"That was really impressive to strike out 11 batters," Coach Johnson said. "I mean, that's a lot of people to strike out, especially in a district tournament game."

Offensively, Whitney Walker and Sarah Maynord each went 2 for 3 and scored 2 runs, Jessica McDonald went 2 for 3 and scored a run, and Aspen Allen, Casey Emerton, and Stasha Babb each scored a run.

"That game gave us a chance to play at least two more games," Coach Johnson said of the win. "We were real proud to win a district tournament game, and move on in the winner's bracket, and not be automatically in the loser's bracket. They were pretty happy about that."

The Lady Cats next faced DeKalb County's Lady Tigers on Wednesday, May 12, and almost upended one of the district's best teams.

"We had played them three times earlier in the season, and had lost to them all three times," Coach Johnson said. "We knew they were a good team. They were tied for first in the district when the season ended. So, we knew we had to play well to win.

"We came within three outs from winning the ballgame."

The Lady Cats scored a run in each of the first two innings, then DeKalb scored a run in the third and another in the sixth to tie the game.

The game went into an extra inning and LA scored 2 runs in the top of the eighth.

"So everybody was pumped up," Coach Johnson said. "Our crowd was really into the game, and our dugout, the ones that weren't playing, did a great job of really supporting and yelling for their team. And I think that kept the players that were playing pumped up. It gave us a chance to win.

"We were so close to winning."

Before the start of the bottom of the inning, Coach Johnson reminded his team that is wasn't over yet, and it wasn't.

DeKalb scored 2 runs to tie the game and had a runner on third.

Ashley Howard had pitched the entire game for LA and had thrown over 100 pitches. Tara Taylor was brought in to pitch.

"She pitched one pitch and they hit it between the third baseman and the shortstop, and there was nothing we could do.

"They got up, had 4 straight hits, scored 3 runs and won the ballgame," he said of the DeKalb attack. "We didn't even get an out against them. But it was just some of our lack of being in big games like that. That's what won the game. They made the hits and we made the mistakes."

LA took a 4-5 loss and fell to the loser's bracket.

"Our girls were heartbroken about it," Coach Johnson said. "You never know until the last out's made what's going to happen.

"I think that pretty much took the wind out of their sails. We won another game after that, but I think after the DeKalb County loss it was a big letdown."

Ashley Howard went 2 for 4 in the game, and her courtesy runner, Kirstie Dillon scored 2 runs. Also scoring runs were Casey Emerton and Andrea Borden.

Howard struck out 7, gave up 13 hits and 4 runs.

"We made a lot of good plays in that game," Coach Johnson said.

He was particularly amazed by a catch by his right fielder, Casey Emerton.

"She's had a lot of balls hit to her this year and she's made a lot of outs, but this was just an amazing play.

"They hit the ball, and it was a little blooper, just right into the grass in right field.

"She was running in real hard, sticks out her glove and makes a shoestring, snow cone catch. I mean, it was right at the ground, but she caught it, and half the ball's hanging out of her glove.

"She comes up, still running. There's a girl on first who had got halfway out because she thought the ball was going to drop.

"Casey made that play and she just kept running. She got to first before the girl did and she just flipped it to Whitney Walker, who wasn't five feet away. The girl was out by a mile.

"That was one of the most amazing double plays I've ever seen."

Coach Johnson was proud of the way his team played against DeKalb.

"We played hard. We played great in that game."

The tough loss combined with a late running game put the fatigue factor in play.

"We didn't get home until about midnight that night," Coach Johnson said. "Everybody was tired."

Livingston Academy faced Jackson County the next day.

"We came out really flat," Coach Johnson said. "Jackson County got their first three batters on base, loaded the bases, before we even got an out. But we got our composure back, got a girl out at home, and got another couple of outs and got out of that inning."

The Lady Cats went on to shut out the Lady Blue Devils 3-0. Tara Taylor got the win on the mound, giving up 7 hits and striking out 1.

Whitney Walker went 3 for 3 in the game, and Aspen Allen and Lisa Reeder each had a hit. Aspen Allen, Ashley Howard, and Whitney Walker each scored in the game.

"They had some hits off us, but we kept them off of home plate," Coach Johnson said. "We won the game 3-0, but didn't look all that great in it. You could tell everybody was tired and still let down from the game against DeKalb County."

The win was the team's 20th of the season.

"We got to move on and play York the next day. We just weren't up to play this game," Coach Johnson said.

The Lady Wildcats' season ended with a 4-8 loss.

"York just pounded the ball against us," Coach Johnson said. "They just pounded the ball, had 18 total hits. We just couldn't do anything against them. It was their day to win."

Ashley Howard pitched 3 innings, and gave up 4 runs on 8 hits, and Tara Taylor pitched 4 innings and gave up 4 runs on 10 hits.

"They only scored in two innings," Coach Johnson said. "They scored 4 runs in the third and 4 runs in the sixth.

"We didn't score until the fifth inning. We scored a run in the fifth and 3 in the sixth, made it a little close. But they'd jump back out on us."

Whitney Walker, Sarah Maynord, Andrea Borden, and Stasha Babb all scored for LA.

Whitney Walker and Sarah Maynord each went 2 for 4, and Babb and Reeder were 2 for 3.

"We just couldn't play well that day," Coach Johnson said. "I hate to end the season like that, but sometimes that's just how it goes."

The season was a vast improvement over the previous year's play.

"Overall, we had a pretty good season," Coach Johnson said.

"Our final record was 20-18, and 9-7 in the district. We stayed above .500 all year. "Our four seniors played well together. They made such a big difference on our team.

"Whitney Walker had so many big hits this year. If we hadn't had her hitting, we would have lost a lot of games.

"Aspen Allen and Sarah Maynord were great leaders," he said. "They've been on the team for four years. You could just tell that they took charge. When something went wrong, they took care of it. If things weren't going right, they made everybody get together and play as a team, and just did a great job.

"Casey Emerton also did a great job this year, hitting and fielding.

"It will be hard to replace all four of them," Coach Johnson said.

"Looking towards next year, we should be a good team next year. We've got both of our pitchers. They've both got a lot of experience.

"Both of them will be back," he said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to add a younger girl to the mix next year, if she keeps improving.

"We've just got to replace our outfield and our first baseman. The rest of the team is pretty much intact."

Coach Johnson looks for even more improvement next year, with the added experience gained this year.

"We played 38 total games, which is a lot of games in two months' time," he said. "We did well.

"I think having two pitchers helped us out. It let them have a rest between games sometimes, and it should help us out a lot next year, having two senior girls who can go out there and pitch every day.

"We should be in really good shape next year. A lot of girls have a lot of experience. I think we'll be a pretty good team next year."

Not only will next year's team try to improve on this year's accomplishments, Livingston Academy will have an added incentive to do well next year.

"We'll get to have the district tournament on our own home field next year, which will be a big advantage for us," Coach Johnson said.

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