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Archives 03-14-2007

Sports

LA Baseball Wildcats looking for hard work to pay off
Lady Cats play in Final Four
Kalihib Lander to participate in Australia run
LA Wildcats soccer team sets sights on championship
LA Lady Wildcats softball season starts up



 


LA Baseball Wildcats looking for hard work to pay off

Dewain E. Peek/OCN Sports
Members of the 2007 Livingston Academy Wildcats baseball team are, front row from left, Will Mullins, Ethan McDonald, Casey Beason, Seth Kilgore, Tracy McDonald, Shawn Walthall, middle row, Andrew Maynord, Andrew Neff, Lee Gatts, Allen Bilbrey, Colby Boykin, Clint West, Todd Smith, back row, Matt Lee, Cody Winton, Jacob Lee, Zack Ramsey, Joe Reynolds, Griffin Lee, and Clint Durham.

Livingston Academy's Wildcats baseball team takes the field this year in the unusual position of not being picked to win the district, but that doesn't mean they don't expect to be competitive.

LA Coach Pat Swallows said, "We're pretty excited about the year and the fact that we've got quite a bit of returning experience. "The thing that's been most pleasing for me is that these kids have wanted to work, work, and work, and they've done a great job. They've worked hard all fall and winter.

"They're a good group of young men."

Experienced players and a deep pitching staff give the Cats a chance to take back the dominant position in District 7-AA.

The pitching staff will be led by senior Andrew Neff, and will be filled out by juniors Clint Durham and Cody Winton, sophomores Lee Gatts and Jacob Lee, and Allen Bilbrey.

Senior Griffin Lee has been hampered by injuries, but may return to the mound.

"And then we've got a couple of freshman guys who we can use in spots," Coach Swallows said. "And the thing about this bunch is that they are all pretty much at about the same level in that none of them throw hard, but yet they're smart about it. They hit their spots and change speeds. If they do those little things like that, we'll be successful."

The Cats are not only blessed with depth on the mound, they are blessed with versatility in the field.

"Our fielding is one of our strongest, if not our strongest suit," Coach Swallows said. "We've got some experience all the way around." With basketball season over, the Wildcats are at full strength to begin the baseball season.

"We got a little deeper when the basketball players came back, with Todd Smith and Clint West. That made us a little better in that I can move all of those guys around."

Coach Swallows already has his player shuffle planned. "Neff's at third, and of course he's going to throw every three or four days, so I'll have to have somebody to play at third when he's not there.

Durham's going to pitch, so somebody'll have to play short when he's not there.

"Gatts is at first, so somebody'll have to go to first when he pitches. Winton's in right, so somebody'll have to be in right when he's on the mound.

"Griffin Lee, I'm not sure exactly, he's been hurt so much that we haven't played much defense with him. So, he may just DH right now for awhile until he starts getting better. We need his bat in the lineup, he hits the ball hard.

"We're versatile enough that we can move some people around," Coach Swallows said. "We don't have anybody that's stuck in one position. Even Matt Lee behind the plate is going to throw some. So we're going to have to have somebody back there, Andrew Maynord or Seth Kilgore or some freshman to step in and play that position while Matt's on the mound.

"It's a good situation to be in. We've got 21 guys on the squad. And the freshmen coming in were in the middle school program last year. So we haven't had to spend as much time on the fundamentals as we have in the past, because they already knew it. And they're good athletes. They're going to play some." Opponents will contend with experience and speed in the LA outfield.

"Joe Reynolds is in center, Zack Ramsey is in left, and Cody Winton, right now, is in right," Coach Swallows said. "And Todd or Clint either one can go to the outfield.

We're okay, we're not strong-armed in the outfield, but we're accurate and we have pretty good speed. Joe can fly, so he covers a lot of ground." On the hitting side, LA is more likely to play "little ball" rather than wait for the 3-run homer.

"We don't have any power hitters, but we'll have a lot of single and double guys," Coach Swallows said. "I think we'll be fine hittingwise." The Wildcats are not lacking in the coaching department either, Coach Swallows was recently inducted into the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

"It was kind of a surprise," he said. "The association normally meets in August and votes on Hall of Fame members. And they voted on Steve Peterson at Middle Tennessee and Mike Turner, who is at Walker Valley in Chattanooga, as the Hall of Fame. So then, at the clinic luncheon after those two got up, they said, 'We've got a surprise inductee.' And it was me.

"That was a very, very special moment in my life. The way that it was done made it even that much more special. They didn't tell me about it, and Grant came and did the background stuff that everybody normally does themselves."

Coach Swallows gives others the credit for this achievement.

"It shows that over the years I've had great kids and assistant coaches. We had a lot of wins and championships through hard work, trying to make sure that we're as good as or better than anyone that we play. "I'm proud of it, very much proud of it."

And this year the Wildcats will strive once again to be as good as or better than everyone in District 7-AA.

"We're not ranked in the top two of the district; Upperman and DeKalb in the preseason are holding that distinction," Coach Swallows said. "But we feel that we are as good as they are, and if we do the things that we work on, and do them correctly, then we've got a chance to win this thing.

"Of course, that's our goal every year is to be district champions and regional champions and to go on to the state tournament. We're excited that with the experience that we've got, the attitude that we've got, and the work ethic that we've got that this will be a successful year for us."

The Cats hit the ground running this week, with the home opener against Monterey held Monday, March 12, and games scheduled at Jackson County on Thursday, March 15 and a round of play on Friday, March 16 against teams at Oak Ridge, beginning with Knoxville Catholic High School. LA will travel to Lafayette to take on Macon County on Monday, March 19, then will host Macon's Tigers on Tuesday, March 20.

 

 

 

 

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Lady Cats play in Final Four

Mac McLeod/OCN Sports
All-State Tournament player Mallie Stephens fires a long range shot against Booker T. Washington High School in the opening round win of the TSSAA State Tournament.

By DEWAIN E. PEEK and MAC McLEOD, OCN Sports Six seniors capped impressive careers as Lady Wildcats by leading Livingston Academy into the Final Four last week, letting it be known that LA's 15th state tournament team is one of the four best basketball team's in Class AA.

"If you look at the wall that has the big banners on it in our gym," Lady Wildcats Coach Lesley Smith said, "it's a big deal to get to the state tournament. A lot of people think Livingston Academy goes every year, but we don't. It's a huge accomplishment just to get there." Leadership in accomplishing that goal was provided on the floor by seniors Ashley Matthews, Alison West, Mallie Stephens, Britany Smith, and Brittany McCoin, and through the encouragement of injured senior Jada Ledbetter. To advance to the state semifinals, Livingston had to do like all the other eight teams in the TSSAA Class AA State Tournament - play against the unknown.

"We don't know a thing about Booker T. Washington," Coach Smith said of LA's first round opponent prior to the trip to Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. "To even things out though, they probably don't know much about us either. We do know they are from Memphis and they will probably be quick."

Being in the same boat, the Lady Warriors had little information on the Lady Wildcats, but somewhere they picked up enough information to concentrate on Ashley Matthews, Livingston's leading scorer and ball handler. In the end, that was not necessarily the best move to make. While the Lady Warriors were hammering Matthews inside and out, Alison West and Kendria Kilgore were picking up the scoring chores, and it paid off in the 46-37 victory on Wednesday, March 7.

"They were physical and the officials let the game be physical," Coach Smith added. "It went both ways, so it was fair. We just had to figure out how to handle it. It was much like our games in Florida over Christmas, and I'm sure that experience really helped us."

Matthews put the Lady Cats on the board to open the contest, and Britany Smith quickly added 2 more points to put LA up 4-0. Brittany McCoin kept the lead at 4 with a jumper in the lane following Washington's first basket, and a 2-pointer by Mallie Stephens with 3:55 showing in the first period put Livingston up by 6 at 8-2. But the Lady Warriors came back and knotted the score at 11 at the end of the first period, and the second frame was almost a repeat of the first.

At intermission, the score was all even at 19. West stated after the game, "We had to get used to what they were doing. Once we figured them out, it was a matter of us executing and keeping our poise. 

"They kept hammering Ashley, but that freed Kendria and me up. We missed some easy lay-ups in the first half, but we got much better in the second half."

At the midpoint, Matthews had only 4 points while West was on the boards with 7 and Kilgore could only show 2. In the end, West was the hot hand with a game high 22 markers, while Kilgore ended with 8, Stephens 6, McCoin 2, Smith 2, and Adrian West 1.

Coach Smith added, "I thought one of the big differences in the game was our play on the offensive boards. We had a total of 36 rebounds while we held them to 17. On the offensive boards, we really played well, grabbing 17 to their 8."

For the winners, the big spurt came in the third period. With just over a minute and a half showing on the clock, Kilgore hit on three straight attempts, helping the Lady Cats to move away from a 26-23 lead to a 32-26 advantage going into the final period.

Alison West's 10 points in the final 8 minutes slammed the door on the Lady Warriors' hopes. After the victory, Matthews said, "This feels great. Four years ago we were here (the seniors on this year's team) and we watched from the bench. This time we went out and did the job, and that's a good feeling. They (Booker T. Washington) kinda closed the door on my shooting, but everyone else picked it up. We really played as a team."

Another highlight of the evening was the return of senior Jada Ledbetter, who was injured in December and had missed the second half of the season.

Her goal was to return to the floor if the team made it to the state tournament.

Coach Smith said, "That was great. I don't think she was supposed to be out there, but she worked so hard to get back on the floor and she wanted to play. The entire team felt so good about her getting in the game. She has been such a big part of this team, and it was just good to see her back on the floor."

LA's 2007 record moved to 29-8 with the win. Next up was Marshall County's Tigerettes on Friday, March 9.

Livingston jumped out to a 7-2 lead early in the game, but trailed 8-9 at the end of the first period. Scoring remained close throughout the second period, and the game was tied in the final seconds of the first half, when the Lewisburg team grabbed a 2-point lead on a buzzer beater by Kanesha McLean.

Marshall County pulled away slightly in the third period, outscoring LA 13-10 to lead 30-25 going into the final frame. In the fourth period, the two teams again remained close in scoring, and with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game, LA had narrowed the gap to 3 points. But missed shots down the stretch and good free throw shooting by the Tigerettes spelled the end of the road for the Lady Cats. Marshall County outscored LA 11-7 in the last period to win 41-32.

LA had shot just 31.4% from the field in the game.

"We just didn't shoot well," Coach Smith said.

All-State Tournament player Alison West led LA in scoring with 13 points, including three 3-pointers. Fellow All-State Tournament player Mallie Stephens scored 7 points, including a 3-pointer and 2 free throws.Ashley Matthews and Kendria Kilgore each scored 4 points, including 2 free throws each, and Britany Smith and Brittany McCoin scored 2 points each.

West and Kilgore led LA in rebounds with 7 each, followed by Stephens with 6, Matthews 3, and McCoin 1.

The Lady Cats season came to a close with a 29-9 final record. "Most teams shoot for 20 wins in a season, we ended up with 29," Coach Smith said. "It's been a great season. "I'm very proud of the girls." Marshall County advanced the championship game to face Knoxville's Austin East High School Roadrunner, who defeated Upperman 60-52 on Friday night.

Austin East proved too much for Marshall County, as the Knoxville team won 57-43 on Saturday evening. Now Coach Smith is looking forward to next year. "We don't have any juniors, so we're going to have to go all the way down to the sophomores for big time players, but I think they're ready," she said.

"Kendria Kilgore, and Chelsea Carr, and Alissa Sells have played a lot of quality minutes this year as sophomores, and been big factors in some of our games. And Shelby Taylor, as a freshman, has played quite a bit. So we have four who have played a lot.

"They haven't been the 'go-to' players or anything like that, but I think the future's bright."

Coach Smith also is looking forward to players coming to the Lady Wildcats from the grade school programs.

"The eighth grade classes all around the county are really strong," she said. "I'm really anxious to get those kids." Coach Smith believes that inexperience in the beginning will give way to talent late next season.

"We've got a good core," she said. "We may be a little inconsistent at first, because they haven't been the ones we've called on for the big time plays and things like that. They may be a little inconsistent, but I think that by the end of the season we'll maybe make another run toward Murfreesboro, I hope."

 

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Kalihib Lander to participate in Australia run

Kalihib Lander, a senior at Livingston Acadamy, has been invited by International Sports Specialist Inc. (ISSI) Down Under Sports to represent the USA-State of TN Cross-Country team in July. Lander needs financial support in the Australia run.

"If you could help support me with a little donation I would really appriciate it," Lander said. "It would make me so proud to represent the USA and Tennessee in this competition."

For more information, or to make a donation, contact Vicky Lander at (931) 498-5250. Donations can also be made at either of the US Bank branches in Cookeville under the Kalihib Lander account. More information about the run in Australia is available at the website at downundersports.com or www.issi-usa.com.

 

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LA Wildcats soccer team sets sights on championship

By RYAN McDONALD, OCN Sports
Boys soccer season is once again underway at Livingston Academy as any afternoon passerby of the school can clearly tell.

The boys have been working hard and are excited to get this season started off on the right foot. The new season officially began Monday, March 12 at Jamestown, where the Wildcats faced York Institute. Last season, the Wildcats went 13-6 and were put out in the first round of the region playoffs by White House. The Cats are anxious to repeat their district performance from last season, and hope to progress more into the playoffs and set their sites on the state championship.

The Wildcats have an advantage over many teams this season in that only one senior, Jonathan McGill, was lost to graduation.

"We have a lot of veteran players returning this season, giving us more experience that we didn't have last year," said soccer coach Ethan King.

The returning seniors for the team this season are Jordan Bailey, Cory Cross, Daniel Elder, Logan Huffman, Jeremy Murphy, and Blake Vaughn. Other returning upperclassmen include juniors David Brady, Hunter Burnett, B.J. Byers, Brandon Colson, Jonathon Emrich, Josh Foster, Joey Green, Aeric Gunnels, and Cody Penticuff.

The team also includes five sophomores - Josh Espey, Josh Huitt, Patrick Letner, Josh Villahrazo, and Greg Walker; and five freshmen - Dylan Ashlock, Colton Cross, Nathan Harvey, Ryan Swallows, and Tyler Watkins.

The team's defense should be a strong part of the strategy this season.

Returning at goalie, senior David Brady is a key aspect of the Wildcats' defense.

Other seniors, Jeremy Murphy and Daniel Elder will also play key roles on the defensive side.

Coach King said, "Our experience coming into this season is definitely going to strengthen up our defense and midfield. We feel like our defense should be able to hold it's own against most teams."

On the offensive side, the team is just as experienced with seniors Blake Vaughn, B.J. Byers and Cory Cross to help anchor the midfield. Also, Aeric Gunnels will play a big role offensively and will be the "go-to guy" to put some points on the board.

"We have a veteran bunch on offense this season that learned a lot last year, and hopefully we'll be able to benefit from that knowledge this year," Coach King said.

With a long road of games ahead, the guys are getting pumped and are ready to get it started.

"We have been working hard, and hopefully it will pay off in the district and come playoff time," Coach King said. "They can't wait to play. They're getting tired of practice and are ready for the season to start." After the game at Jamestown to start the season, the Cats will travel to Carthage on Thursday, March 15 to take on Smith County's Owls.

 

 

LA Lady Wildcats softball season starts up

Kyle Stephens/OCN Sports
Members of the 2007 Livingston Academy Lady Wildcats softball team are, front row from left, Julie Carwile, Kayla Ferrell, Kaylie Wilson, Katie Vaughn, Amanda Roberts, Dara Smith, Megan Nivens, back row, Lyndsey Nelson, Liz Hall, Brittney Cantrell, Abby Jolley, Becca Savage, Autumn Webb, Taylor Ledbetter, Sarah Neff, Jenna Smith, Kendria Kilgore, and Chelsea Carr.

By KYLE STEPHENS, OCN Sports
The Livingston Academy Lady Wildcats softball team was set to hold its first game at home on Monday, March 12 after days of rain and snow kept the girls in the gym for fielding drills and practices.

Elizabeth Maxwell, head coach of the Livingston Academy softball team, said, "I think we're ready. We've been working hard. There have been a lot of nice days lately that we've been able to get out on the field." Coach Maxwell also mentioned some parents in the booster club have been working really hard on the field this preseason.

The field is draining well and is looking good too, according to Coach Maxwell. Days where players normally wouldn't be able to get on the field are not an issue so far because the field is draining well.

The team has two senior pitchers this year, one left-handed and one right-handed.

The team has 19 members and consists of four seniors, four juniors, six sophomores and five freshmen. The Lady Cats have many veteran players returning to the team this year.

Last year the team placed 5th in the district and were not eligible to go on to the region. One team goal the girls have is to get to the region and advance on from there.

After the home opener against Clay County, the Lady Cats will host Cannon County at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 15, then will travel to Lafayette on Tuesday, March 20 to take on Macon County.

 

 

 

 

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