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Archives 2005


Sports

 


Wildcats Soccer headed for state

Wildcats' baseball season ends in region tournament

Kalihib Lander to compete at state meet

 

Wildcats Soccer headed for state

Dewain E. Peek/OCN staff
Livingston Academy's Westley Burnett, #8, sets for a scoring shot against Springfield.

By BETH UNDERWOOD, OCN Sports
While they may have been plagued with an injured player and sudden death face-offs on more than one ocassion, Livingston Academy's boys soccer team rose to the challenge in semi-regional and regional play last week, squeaking past all the competition.

Semi-regional play saw the Wildcats going up against Springfield on Tuesday, May 17.

A first-half goal by Wes Burnett gave LA a 1-0 lead, which was matched by Springfield in the second half, before Burnett went down with an injury.

The tie set the teams up for one of a series of multiple sudden death shootouts.

"It was stressful," LA Soccer Coach Ethan King said. "My number one shooter was hurt, and (we) had to come up with a new order. We'd practiced a shootout, just in case it came to it. The boys were ready."

But victory continued to elude the team, even after two sudden deaths. While the team made 5 out of 8 picks, it wasn't until the eighth shooter that LA came away with the win.

Picks were made by Alex Gunnels, Wes Puckett, Andy Gunnels, Blake Vaughn, and Cory Cross.

"It is toughest on the goalie," King said. "Graham was one cool customer in the shootout."

The pressure didn't let up as LA moved on to face Station Camp in the region finals on Thursday, May 19, knowing that a key player would be benched due to injuries.

"I was unsure how the team would react with Wes unable to play," King said.

They reacted with defense intact, as did their opponent, with neither team able to find the net until late in the game after a good hustle by James Dellapace on a long ball resulted in a foul by the goalie in the box.

"It was a tough call to make with what was at stake," Coach King said. "But after seeing the foul on tape, he made the correct call."

Alex Gunnels finished the pick to give LA the 1-0 region championship win.

The team moved on to sectional play on Saturday, falling quickly behind in the first 6 minutes of the game against Christ Presbyterian Academy.

A shot by Matt Anderson was stopped by CPA, before Alex Gunnels finished another pick to tie the game at 1-1.

The strong CPA team continued to dominate play until LA's defense settled down. But both teams were unable to put the game away before the end of regulation play.

The teams moved on to sudden death, where, with 2 minutes left of the 5-minute half, Jacob Pennington slipped a cross to Alex Gunnels, breaking the tie and sending the LA team to the state tournament for the first time since the team's inception.

"CPA has a great team," Coach King said. "They passed and moved the ball well.

"Our boys would not be denied. They showed a lot of heart."

The sectional victory sends the 18-3-3 LA Wildcats to the state tournament, where they'll face Sheffield in their next game on Wednesday, May 25 at Mike Rose Soccer Complex in Memphis.

"This team has made history and no one can take that from them," Coach King said.

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Wildcats' baseball season ends in region tournament

By DEWAIN E. PEEK, OCN Sports
Normally in sports, the better team wins. But sometimes that is not the case.

When Livingston Academy's Wildcats met Greenbrier's Bobcats in the single-elimination first round of the Region 7-AA Tournament, Big Blue played error-free baseball, and the Green Machine committed 5 errors. Yet, the visiting Bobcats moved to the second round with an 8-6 victory while Livingston's season ended with an 18-11 final record.

"It was a tough, tough loss," LA Wildcats Coach Pat Swallows said.

"We got the big hit when we needed it. We advanced runners with bunts. We made no mistakes. We had no errors. When you play well and lose, it hurts as bad, maybe even worse, than when you play poorly and lose."

After two scoreless innings, Livingston Academy broke through for 5 runs in the third inning, and held a 5-1 lead going into the fourth. The LA Cats added a run in the fourth inning.

Greenbrier scored a run in each of the next two innings to narrow the LA lead to 6-3. Then, in the seventh inning, Greenbrier struck for 5 runs and ultimately the victory.

"We really felt we were in control the whole game, and we just let it get away from us there in the seventh," Coach Swallows said. "It was just one of those situations where everybody felt pretty comfortable, especially with Cody (Sells) on the mound in the seventh, up 6-3, and, as well as we had played throughout the game, that we were going to win this game.

"It just turned on us.

"I hate it so bad for the boys because they played a great game. I'm really proud of the way they played. It was just a tough way to end the season."

Cody Sells took the loss on the mound for LA. On offense, Sells had 3 hits. Andrew Dixon, Tyler Thrasher, and Johnny Cyrus each had 2 hits in the game, and Brian Colson, Chris Nelson, and Jon Maynard each had hits.

Eight senior starters for the Wildcats baseball team received their diplomas on Friday, May 20 - Brian Colson, Johnny Cyrus, Jimmy Davidson, Shane Livingston, Jon Maynard, Chris Nelson, Cody Sells, and John Ward.

"Brian has been a 3-year starter as well and set the career home run record," Coach Swallows said. "He's been an athlete who has gone from football to basketball to baseball, and started a little slow because of injuries, but he ended up hitting over .400 and 8 home runs again this year.

"Johnny Cyrus is a 3-year starter at second base," Coach Swallows said. "He started out hurt the first part of the year and didn't play as well as he would have liked to have played.

"He was consistent with the glove. I would rather have the ball hit to him at second base than just about anybody because I just knew he wasn't going to make any mistakes.

"He's a solid guy, a hard worker.

"Jimmy Davidson was a 2-year starter, and probably the best center fielder in the district," Coach Swallows said. “There was just nothing he couldn't catch, and he made two or three great plays at the end of the year to help us win the district tournament.

"His speed will be missed, and he ended up having a great year with the bat.

"Shane Livingston, this was his first year getting a chance to start and play," Coach Swallows said. “Though he struggled a little with the bat, he made up for it defensively, and then did a great job on the mound when Colson went down. Shane stepped up and had some great games.

"Jon Maynard's another senior that this is his first year to get a chance to play," Coach Swallows said. "He's been a catcher all three years he's been here, and we moved him to the outfield because Chris was in the catcher position and we wanted to get Jon into the lineup somewhere. He got some key hits for us, and had good speed.

"Chris was a 3-year starter behind the plate," Coach Swallows said. "He has improved tremendously back there.

"He was probably out of position. He probably should have been a first baseman and possibly even a pitcher, but we couldn't afford to take him out from behind the plate because he was so valuable back there.

"So, we have to replace a 3-year starter at catcher. He was a quiet leader. He didn't say a whole lot, but led by example and always worked hard at everything that he did.

"Cody has been the main go-to guy for the three years that I've been back," Coach Swallows said. “He's set numerous school records - strikeouts, wins, games pitched, innings pitched, and ERA. He'll be tough to replace on the mound.

"John Ward was a designated hitter this year, and just had a great year," Coach Swallows said. "He hit over .400 and had 6 home runs.

"He was probably as hard a worker as anybody we had. He came up here and hit off the tees and off the soft-toss machines and made himself into a very good hitter, and made All-District his senior year. Through hard work and desire, he made himself a good player.

"This year's senior bunch was four-time district champions," Coach Swallows said. "That's something to be pretty proud of. They had a good four years.

"We've got eight pairs of shoes to fill, but the guys that have been here all year and have stuck it out and worked hard have certainly improved from the start of the year until now. So, we as coaches have a lot of optimism about next year simply because of the way these guys have worked to get better."

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Kalihib Lander to compete at state meet

By DEWAIN E. PEEK, OCN Sports
The team portion of the Livingston Academy Track & Field Team's 2005 season ended last week in the sectionals held at David Lipscomb College on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, May 16, 17, and 19.

LA Track & Field Coach Merl Smith said, "The season went real well. We had quite a few school records broken, and had some people improve their times and improve their distances.

"And we found out that we can compete individually with a lot of people."

Coach Smith was also encouraged with the growth of the program at Livingston Academy.

"We had a few more people involved in the sport this year," he said. "We scored more points than we have in the past because of the increase in numbers.

"But we can't compete as a team because of the numbers also," he said referring to the lack of enough players for each event offered in track & field.

At the sectionals, Kalihib Lander qualified for the state tournament in the long jump while setting a new school record of 20 feet, 5 and 3/4 inches. His jump was good for the 2nd place medal and a trip to Briarcrest High School in Memphis where he will compete at 1 p.m. Friday, May 27.

Heather Burchett continued to break school records in the discus throw. She took the 4th place medal with a new school record of 96 feet, 5 inches.

She also won the 6th place medal in the shotput with a throw of 30 feet, 11 and 1/2 inches.

"In the running events, our 4 by 100 relay team qualified for the finals," Coach Smith said.

The LA team of Mike Jones, Kalihib Lander, Vincent Woodruff, and Dewayne Woodruff set a new school record with a 46.84 run that was good enough for the 8th place medal.

The team has lost two members to graduation - Krista Clinard and Josh Gore.

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