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Archives 03-22-2011

Sports

Pro pitcher helps Jr. Cats
One point seals Cats fate in State Tournament
New coach fires up Wildcats for new season
Lady Cats look to repeat success
Tennessee Rush wins championship

Pro pitcher helps Jr. Cats

Josh Scott photo
Bubbie Buzachero gives instructional tips on pitching technique during his recent visit with the Junior Wildcats.

By Josh Scott,
OCN Sports

When famous pro athletes come back to their home town, usually they are just there to relax for a time. They do not want to be bothered, and will pose with the people from home for pictures and happily sign autographs; however, few will ever teach what they have learned until they get done with their careers.

But as always, there are exceptions. For the town of Livingston, the exception is Bubbie Buzachero. Some may say, “Who?” Although Buzachero is not a super athlete that is on ESPN every day, just ask any one of the Junior Wildcats baseball team members about Buzachero.

Three weeks ago, while home for the winter, Buzachero took time out to teach some of the tactics and tools he had learned in AAA and AA Major League Baseball to the Junior Wildcats baseball team. Although the team was elated to have someone as knowledgeable as Buzachero to help, it was Buzachero and first year coach Brandon Thomas who seemed just as happy as any 10 to 14 year-old baseball player.

“I love that I have got to work with them,” said a smiling Buzachero. “I know how I would feel if I were them and someone that played in the pros came to help me. It’s grateful on both aspects, this is where I grew up.”

Working from the mound at Livingston Academy also brings back memories for one of, if not the, best pitcher to ever play at LA.

“It’s cool to remember how it all started,” he said. “Most people that I play with can’t even point out Livingston on a map,” laughed Buzachero. “Now ten years in, it’s great to look back on where I started.”

Although not pitching in sold out Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium, Buzachero still has the knowledge about the game that he thinks can help these kids.

“I told them that with the hard work that they put in here, and the determination to keep getting better, all good things are possible.”

Junior Wildcats Coach Brandon Thomas, a former Livingston Academy teammate of Buzachero, is grateful as well for the time the former LA standout put in with his team.

“I told him, why don’t you come by, and there he was, no questions asked,” Coach Thomas said.

The players however, were what it was all about throughout the week. Buzachero taught them some techniques about the whole game of baseball from pitching, to fielding, to something he hasn’t had to do in a while, proper hitting.

“I’ve got kids who weren’t born when we played,” laughed Coach Thomas. “Most of them were joking about hey, who is this guy? Then finally one said, guys, that’s Bubbie Buzachero man, he’s a professional baseball player. That was neat to see those smiles and all you know? Bubbie signed his baseball card and gave it to all of them.”

Buzachero’s presence gives Thomas not only another teacher for his young team, but a living, breathing model of what hard work can do.

“I told them, it doesn’t matter what people say about you,” Coach Thomas said.

“You can do whatever you want to do. I told them, he’s here, use him.”
Being here is something that Buzachero knows is huge.

“I told Brandon (Thomas), how can I sit here, or anyone sit here, and tell those guys that they can’t do this or can’t do that,” Buzachero said. “I’ve heard that, but never listened, and look at what I did.”

Buzachero is scheduled to start the season with Toronto in Double-A. Although 30, Buzachero has performed well in the past few seasons. In 2009, he went 5-4 with a 2.38 ERA appearing in 75.2 innings. In 2010, the Livingston product went 8-1 overall with 3 saves while his ERA went up to 6.17 in 93.1. For his career, he is 38-29 with a 3.74 ERA and 10 saves.

The impact on the young Junior Wildcats benefited out of the gate. Coach Thomas and the Overton County Junior Wildcats season started Thursday night, March 10 with a 4-2 win over Algood.




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One point seals Cats fate in State Tournament



Mac McLeod photo
LA’s Kailen Melton drives the lane and goes high to score a field goal in the state tournament game against East Literature. Melton had 5 points.

Mac McLeod photo
Jake Huitt goes inside for two of his game-high 21 points against East Literature in Wednesday’s state playoff game.

Mac McLeod photo
Always around the action, Livingston’s Brock McCoin, #4, jumps high to make a pass in the state first round game.

Mac McLeod photo
Logan Ramsey, #00, played a major role Wednesday in the first round of the state playoffs with 32 minutes of playing time, 5 rebounds, and 17 points.

By Mac McLeod,
OCN Sports

For 31 minutes, 56.4 seconds, it appeared the Livingston Academy Wildcats seniors would finally accomplish in the state basketball tournament something they had failed to do in two previous trips to Murfreesboro – win a game.

But in the game of basketball, 3.6 seconds left on the clock and a one-point lead is about as uncomfortable as a rookie bull rider at the national finals.

“Our seniors have been down there twice before,” senior Wildcat Jake Huitt would point out before the trip. “We’ve lost both times and this time we want nothing short of a win.”

In the last two trips to the BlueCross Basketball Championships, LA suffered a 92-55 pounding at the hands of eventual champs Fulton in 2008 and the following year lost to Bolivar by 20 points, 75-55. This time the Cats were more determined than ever and had proven down the stretch in the regional and sub-state playoffs they could handle about anything an opponent could dish out.

What they weren’t prepared for was a lucky shot that fell through the net with only 1 second remaining on the clock. The result was a heartbreaking 63-62 loss to East Literature of Nashville last Wednesday night that ended the season for Livingston at 24-12.

“That hurt and it hurt bad,” Livingston coach Jimmy Miller confessed following the game. “Our kids did everything they could to win that game and they don’t need to hang their heads. We controlled the tempo of the game, we picked our shots well and played good defense. We just got beat on a lucky shot.

“Now that’s not to take anything away from East Literature,” the coach continued.

“They got behind early, but stepped up their defense near the end of the half and cut into our lead and they came back again in the second half. They are a very talented team, but there was nothing we did or didn’t do to allow us to lose.”

Down the stretch in the regular season, the Cats figured out that controlling the ball and the tempo was a very good thing, especially against good, quick teams. Against Tyner of Chattanooga in the sub-state, Livingston played very “deliberate” ball and came away with a surprisingly easy 82-69 win and a trip to the state finals.

“We played great tonight,” junior Logan Ramsey would point out after the game.

“We played with what got us here and it worked well. They (East Literature) just got lucky and we didn’t.”

And that just about summed up the entire night.

Before a good Livingston crowd at the MTSU arena, the Cats made it look fairly easy from the outset. After the Eagles opened with a field goal, Mason Ramsey went inside to tie the game, then Huitt nailed a 3-pointer. East Literature answered with a three, but in the final two minutes, LA got strong inside play from Logan Ramsey and Huitt added four points and at the break, the Wildcats were out to a 19-9 lead.

But the Eagles weren’t to be held back all night.

After Huitt opened the second period with a basket that gave LA a 21-9 lead, that would turn out to be its biggest of the night, the Eagles put the pressure on and slowly chipped away at the lead.

They also forced Mason Ramsey to commit his third personal foul with five and a half minutes remaining in the frame. That would be a big factor for the remainder of the game.

Despite six points down the stretch in the half from Logan Ramsey, East managed to cut the LA lead to four, 29-25, at intermission.

Livingston managed to hold a 44-41 lead at the end of the third despite a strong run late in the frame that pushed the lead out to 11 with about one minute remaining.

During the run, Huitt made six straight points, Logan Ramsey made two, and Brock McCoin made two. A pair of three and two field goals by the Eagles erased the lead.

Then it was all down to the final 8 minutes.

Mason Ramsey picked up his fourth foul with almost 7 minutes remaining and had to go to the bench. Kailen Melton then connected on a field goal to boost the LA lead to four, 47-43. From that point on it was a back and forth game. Melton nailed a three at 4:22 to give LA another 3-point lead at 54-51, but the Eagles came right back. With 2:35 remaining, East finally got back on top for the first time since the opening basket, at 57-56, then made it a 3-point lead at 59-56.

Huitt narrowed the game and McCoin then put LA on top 60-59 with 1:10 showing on the clock. At that point it looked as if East was going to stall for a final shot, but with 21 seconds remaining, made a field goal to go back on top, 61-60.

With seven seconds left, Mason Ramsey went to the line and nailed two free throws to give LA the lead back, 62-61. The Eagles had the ball, but at the far end of the floor. On the trip up court as time was ticking away, Colby Reeder made a good smart foul that forced East to take the ball out of bounds at midcourt. At that point, they had 3.4 seconds to make a point.

On the in-bound pass, the Eagles got the ball to Cheau Hendricks, their high scorer for the night and he took the ball straight to the lane, dodged one LA defender then went up and dropped the ball in. There was one second left and East Literature was on top, 63-62.

“I know this hurts over in the Livingston dressing room, “ East coach Jimmy Fey said after the game. “They played a great game and can be very proud of their effort.

Our kids had so many close games this season (13 decided by one point) that we kinda felt at home in the situation we were in. I’m proud of our effort and the fact we never gave up.”

Huitt, who played his final game as a Wildcat, had probably the finest game of his four-year career and finished with 21 points to lead LA. Logan Ramsey had 17, Mason Ramsey 13, Melton 5, McCoin 4, and Reeder 2. Logan Beaty played but did not score.

On the night, Livingston made 23 of 43 field goals, 4 of 12 three-point attempts, and 12 of 17 free throw attempts. They shot 53.5% from the floor for the game. In minutes played, Logan Ramsey and Huitt went above the call of duty and played the entire 32 minutes. Reeder and Melton played 26 minutes each, Mason Ramsey got in 23 minutes, McCoin had 17, and Beaty finished with 4.



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New coach fires up Wildcats for new season

Members of the 2011 Livingston Academy Wildcats baseball team are, front row from left, Coach Shane Qualls, #3 Trent Nivens, #33 Josh Cannon, #22 Marshall Cannon, #4 Carson Bailey, #27 Lucas Dailey, #24 Conner Oliver, #11 T.J. Hammock, #23 Bubba Jolley, back row, #2 Peyton Boles, #32 M.J. Lockhart, #1 Hayden Hill, #10 Jim Officer, #12 Colby Reeder, #9 Justin Savage, #6 Josh Johnson, #17 Reed Sanders, #7 Tyler Martin, and #5 Hunter White.

By Josh Scott,
OCN Sports

At the end of 2010, the Livingston Academy Baseball team was left in question. Long-time coach Pat Swallows was retiring, a pretty good senior class was leaving, and the Cats had a somewhat decent 16-17 season.

But then came the hiring of Shane Qualls, a former Livingston Academy baseball player and someone who would bring two things for sure, knowledge of the game and fire. The last one has proven to be a good thing for the Wildcats, and that’s something that the first year coach is proud of.

“I got on them early,” Qualls said. “As soon as we could, we started working out and throwing. I told them, we got to do the basics and we will be alright. So far, so good.”

Entering Tuesday’s game at Smith County, the Wildcats boasted a record of 3-0, with their first win of the District 8AA season coming Monday night at home versus Smith County.

The newness of the situation was a concern for everyone, including Qualls. Although most have played for the more aggressive coach, it wasn’t high school baseball, and it wasn’t with it all on the line.

“They were, and are new to me. I’m new to them. Teams are new to me. It’s been a little bit of a challenge,” Qualls said.

Although they may not be a finesse baseball team, pretty never won the first game in any sport. Everyone starts with basics, and that is not any different than what Coach Qualls is teaching his team at this point of the year.

“I keep telling them, basics, basics, basics. It may not look good, but we’re good at it,” he said. “I bet we’ve fielded a thousand ground balls, hit a thousand balls. We won’t blow you away, but I think we play good defense and hit it well.”

The change however from Coach Swallows to Coach Qualls is something that has and will continue to be an interesting transition. After years, many teams knew what to expect from a Livingston Academy baseball team, and that was solid baseball.

Now, teams aren’t really sure what to expect either way.

“I think it’s good for us, because nobody knows how I coach, or how these kids can play for me,” Qualls said. “Used to, I think people knew. Now though, they’re in the same place I am. We’ll see if we can continue what we are doing.

“I couldn’t ask for a better group of kids to try and to do what I have asked them to do. They have really bought into my system; I really just hope we can continue to do what they are capable of doing.”

Coach Qualls has the possibility of seeing his team do great things. Senior Justin Savage, the team’s hits and runs leader from 2010 returns, as well as Colby Reeder and Josh Johnson. Jim Officer, M.J. Lockhart, and Tyler Martin also look to make big contributions this season.

Although the goal is to win the district, Coach Qualls really has no clue what to expect from his team this year.

“Honestly, I have no clue. Our district seems to be Upperman, DeKalb, and Smith in no particular order,” he said. “That makes this win (over Smith) huge. So it’ll be interesting.”

Interesting is a very true word for the 2011 baseball season at Livingston Academy. With a new regime underway, and a solid win against a district foe, it’s safe to say that the Cats will have a lot of team’s interest in 2011.



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Lady Cats look to repeat success

photo courtesy of Julie Miller
Members of the 2011 Livingston Academy Lady Wildcats softball team are, front row from left, #6 Tiffany Waddell, #24 Courtney Smith, #13 Morgan Johnson, #2 Amber Mainord, #1 Maggie Whitson, #8 Gabby Cantrell, back row, #50 Allison Dailey, #23 Abby Miller, #12 Mallory Mahaney, #25 Ashley Boykin, #33 Samantha Maya, #3 Kelsey Copeland, #14 Meriam Maynord, #52 Natasha Taylor, and #34 Katelyn Webb.

By Josh Scott,
OCN Sports

Coming off a season that hadn’t been had at Livingston Academy in 13 years, you would expect the Lady Wildcats softball team to be just as good, if not better than last year. Now, the Lady Cats will be strong, but that isn’t the only factor in winning softball games.

After a 22-16-2 season last year, and a runner-up finish in the 8AA District Tournament, the Lady Wildcats found themselves in the Region Tournament for the first time since 1997. This year, with a bit of a target on their backs, the Lady Wildcats know that road is not only going to be complicated, but definitely just as tough, if not tougher.

Although the team lost only one senior, they lost a vital part of the team in catcher Rachael Kingery. Kingery left the team in the summer, and that leaves second year coach Ashley Fisher in a bit of a bind all around.

“It hurts losing a starting catcher,” Fisher said, “but we’re finding ways to get it done, and trying different things back there.”

On the plus side, Coach Fisher knows 2010 was a great year.

“We started off slow last year,” recalled Fisher. “They had to buy into my system and all, and they all bought in. By the end of the year, we were playing well and ended on a good statement.”

But 2011 holds a lot of tough challenges for the Lady Cats. Not only are traditional powers DeKalb and Upperman back again, but Smith and Cannon counties have made their surge back into the competitive light, something Fisher knows will pose a problem if her team plans to make another run.

“All our district games will be tough, there isn’t a game on the schedule this year that we can say, hey, we can take a bit of a day off today,” she said. “But I think they are looking forward to the challenge.”

Coach Fisher has a great benefit in returning almost all of her big bats, including Samantha Maya, Amber Mainord, and Abby Miller. On the other side of the ball, pitchers Meriam Maynord and Katelyn Webb look to power the Lady Cats, while great gloves such as Kelsey Copeland in center field and Morgan Johnson at second base will anchor the defense.

“I feel like the district is pretty even, and every game we must come to play,” Coach Fisher said. “We have just as good of a chance to win it as anyone, but we have to come and play every day.”

Coach Fisher knows there are many factors in winning the whole thing. Not only must the athletes perform on the field, but they must perform off the field as well.

“The talent is there, the team is there, but it is all about us staying together and staying focused,” Fisher said about winning the district.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we can win this district, and go even farther than we did last year, (region semifinals), but it all depends on if we can keep the little things from knocking us off task.”

The Lady Wildcats opened their season officially last weekend at the Commando Classic in Hendersonville. The Lady Cats won two games, but dropped four. They played at Cookeville Monday night and play at Gordonsville tonight.


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Tennessee Rush wins championship

Tennessee Rush 8th grade AAU basketball team brought home the championship medals in the 10th Annual Volunteer Open held in Shelbyville on March 12-13. Coached by Joey Williams and Josh Scott, Tennessee Rush was number 1 in pool play with a record of 2-0. Then on Sunday, March 13 entered tournament play where they defeated the Huntsville (AL) Bulldogs and The Tennessee Tradition from Shelbyville. Tennessee Rush took the championship honor from home town favorite Tennessee Tradition by a score of 46-23.

Coach William’s stated that the girls have several things to work on, but with only four practices, he was pleased with their efforts in Shelbyville against some very good teams.

Tennessee Rush team members are, front row from left, Jayna Ferrell of Byrdstown, Taylor Whitt of Rickman, Tristen McClellan of Byrdstown, Alexis Savage of Livingston, back row, Coach Joey Williams, Addy Stover of Allons, Kennedy Smith of Celina, Emily Carter of Baxter, Ansley Stalcup of Albany, KY, Jameson Dailey of Allons, Aubrinna Melton of McMinville, and Coach Josh Scott.

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Overton County News
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P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570
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