Monday, May 26, 2008

College updates ...

A few updates on area baseball players on the college level:

St. Mary products Eric and Jonathan Roof had solid springs at Michigan State. Eric Roof, a junior, won the Spartans' catching job and hit .308 with three home runs and 33 RBI, the team's second-highest total. Jonathan Roof started every game at shortstop as a freshman, hitting .299 with two homers and 25 RBI. Michigan State finished 24-29 this spring.

Gabriel Shaw, their former St. Mary teammate, will work out of the bullpen for Louisville in the NCAA tournament. The Cardinals won the Big East tournament over the weekend, earning the league's automatic bid. Shaw allowed one run in two innings in the tournament, pitching in both the semifinal win over Villanova and the championship-game victory over Georgetown. Shaw is 4-4 with five saves and a 5.91 ERA. His biggest problem has been with the long ball, giving up eight homers in 45.2 innings.

Clint Tilford was slated to pitch Kentucky's fourth game in the SEC tournament, but the Wildcats were eliminated by Alabama on Friday night. Tilford is 3-0 with a 4.06 ERA for Kentucky, which will find out its NCAA tournament assignment later today.

Brock Wright, Tilford's teammate at Heath and UK, had a tough injury-riddled spring. Wright had only a handful of at-bats this spring due to hand and wrist injuries and found out last week that he will miss the entire summer with a sprained ligament in his left wrist.

Chris Clark, a Reidland alum, hit .399 with four homers and 58 RBI in 59 games at Delta State, which finished 48-11 and a win shy of a spot in the the Division II College World Series. Clark, a third baseman, also had a .494 on-base percentage.

Former Heath star Brandon Braboy was an all-conference pitcher at the University of Indianapolis, a Division II program. Braboy was 8-3 with a 3.61 ERA with 28 walks and 78 strikeouts in 87 innings. Carlisle County grad Tim Dunn finished with as 12-1 record and an ERA under 2.00 with southern Illinois juco power John A. Logan.

How's this all-star team?

It's Memorial Day morning and looking like the opening day of the First Region baseball tournament will be a washout, so here's my guess at an area all-star team. The Paducah Sun officially sponsors an all-area football team and the All-Purchase basketball team, but these are my informal selections:

C ... Drew Williams, Heath: It's a close call between Williams and Marshall County's Brantley Barrett, but Williams' solid defense, quick release and contributions as a pitcher gives him the slight nod. Ever so slight ... honorable mention goes to a pair of juniors, Calloway County's Casey Brockman and Ballard Memorial's Alex Harper. Crittenden County's Jacob McMican has made a believer out of me.

1B ... Ramsey Walker, Lyon County: Walker's a big kid (6-6, 240) with a nice swing and a steady run-producer, and he's also the Lyons' best pitcher. He beats out Marshall County's Daniel Riley. Heath's Daniel Webb could easily be the pick, but he comes later.

2B ... Josh Reynolds, Calloway County: He's also one of the region's better pitchers, but Reynolds is a good hitter and defender and the Lakers' steady leader. Honorable mention goes to Eric Warren of Heath, who is often overshadowed by some of his high-profile teammates, but has a bat and glove that have established him a steady contributor for the state-ranked Pirates.

SS ... Tyler O'Daniel, Marshall County: He's recovered nicely from a weird hip injury that cost him virtually all of last summer. O'Daniel has been the region's best defensive shortstop for a couple of years, and he started to become a force with the bat a couple of years ago. Lone Oak's Daniel Edwards gets honorable mention, as does Ballard Memorial freshman Jordyn Abell.

3B ... Bradley Cobb, Murray: Three years ago, he looked like a decent prospect at catcher, but he switched positions so that he could also develop into one of the region's better pitchers. Cobb is baseball's version of a gym rat, a kid that knows the game inside and out. Marshall County's Tyler Johnson merits a mention, too.

OF ... Chad Wright, Heath: Earlier this spring, I wrote that Wright may be the region's best center fielder since Steve Finley roamed Brooks Stadium as an early-1980s star at Paducah Tilghman. That's a debatable premise, but there's no questioning that Wright is the area's top position-player prospect. Wright's a speedy lefty hitter and an extra-base threat each time he steps up to the plate.

OF ... Luke Shuemaker, Lone Oak: Another fine lefty hitter and a solid center fielder, I would play Shuemaker in right field on this club, the same position he will likely play for Paducah's American Legion team this summer. Shuemaker has a nice line-drive bat and has settled into the #2 spot in the Purple Flash's batting order.

OF ... Gerick Sullivan, Marshall County: It's a tough call for the third outfield spot, but Sullivan has been swinging a wicked lefty bat all spring. Honorable mention goes to Murray's Shawn McClure and Lone Oak's Allen Haase.

P ... Daniel Webb, Heath: He could've gotten the nod at first base, too, but there's no question that Webb's future is on the mound — that's why major league scouts have been flocking to his games this spring. Webb's mid-90s fastball, sharp curve and improving change-up are a package that could see him picked somewhere in the first two rounds of the amateur draft.

P ... Cody Forsythe, Marshall County: It's rare to see a pitcher succeed at the high school level with almost exclusively fastballs, but Forsythe's ability to locate has frustrated hitters all spring.

P ... Colton Pool, Ballard Memorial: Pool isn't very big and doesn't throw particularly hard, but all he does is throw strikes and win. He owns wins over Marshall County and Calloway County this spring and he and lefty Caleb Shelley give the Bombers a fighting chance to be a regional tournament surprise.

P ... Alex Wood, Crittenden County: Wood missed much of the early spring with an elbow injury that dates back to football season, but he's back to 100 percent. Wood was impressive in the All A Classic sectional game against Murray, losing 1-0 on Bradley Cobb's no-hitter, and he's achieved a rarity — he threw a perfect game this spring, the second of his career. Also earning some mention: Marshall County's Seth Waldrop, Trigg County's Donald Bush and Heath's underrated John Evanko.

Baseball happenings ...

Heath stars Daniel Webb and Chad Wright have been selected as the First Region's senior representatives in the East-West all-star games, which are sponsored by the state baseball coaches' association. Both Webb, a pitcher and first baseman, and center fielder Wright are University of Kentucky signees, and Webb is expected to be a high-round selection in Major League Baseball's amateur draft in early June.

The two senior alternates are Marshall County shortstop Tyler O'Daniel (signed at Rend Lake College) and Murray's Bradley Cobb, a pitcher and third baseman who has been invited to walk on at Murray State.

The junior representatives are a pair of Marshall stars, left-handed pitcher Cody Forsythe and catcher Brantley Barrett. The alternates are Lone Oak pitcher-outfielder Allen Haase and Ballard Memorial catcher Alex Harper.

Also, Lone Oak teammates Luke Shuemaker and Daniel Edwards have committed to Rend Lake. Shuemaker is one of the region's top outfielders and lefty hitters, and Edwards has blossomed into a solid shortstop this spring with an improved bat.

Other area junior college signees: Calloway County pitcher Josh Reynolds will play at Wabash Valley and Crittenden County catcher Jacob McMican will play at Three Rivers.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

ESPN coming to Hoop Fest ...

Marshall County's Hoop Fest founder Steve Woodward is still putting together match ups for the 2008 edition. At the moment, it appears that ESPN will televise a Thursday night game between Oak Hill Academy and Texas power Duncanville, both of which figure to be ranked in the national top 10 next season.

Woodward expects two other boys' games to flank the Oak Hill-Duncanville match up, both Kentucky-Illinois match ups. Calloway County will play Harrisburg with Graves County meeting Massac County.

Scott County will be in demand for next season with two high-profile transfers, Kentucky commitment Dakotah Euton and his former Rose Hill Christian teammate Chad Jackson. Scott is slated to meet Duncanville in the Saturday night session. Other potential Saturday night match ups: Oak Hill vs. Chicago Simeon and Chicago Whitney Young against St. Benedict's Prep of Newark, N.J., the same club that beat Oak Hill in an ESPN-broadcast game at Marshall last December.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Heath job swap?

Everyone in an official capacity at Heath is tight-lipped on the subject, but indications are there might be a change in the school's coaching ranks. In what could amount to a job swap, it appears that athletic director Kris Garrett will take over as the girls' basketball coach, with current coach Mary Lee Hendricks moving into the AD slot.

Principal Russ Tilford said any talk of such a move is "premature" — McCracken County's schools generally require a 30-day posting period for open jobs, even if the school plans to hire from within. Since the openings had yet to be posted as of Friday afternoon, it may be a month or so before the moves are official.

Garrett has been Heath's freshman boys' coach for several years, and Heath's administration has been concerned that Garrett might leave to take a head coaching job at another school — he has talked with Ballard Memorial about their boys' opening in each of the last two years and also drew some interest from Hickman County for its girls' coaching vacancy before it went with assistant Jessica Riley.

It could be a win-win proposition for everyone involved. Garrett gets his first head coaching job and Hendricks has had interest in moving into the administrative ranks.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Ramey turning pro ...

Kyle Ramey isn't likely to be one of western Kentucky's top amateur golfers for much longer. Ramey, who just completed his college eligibility at Southern Mississippi, will make his pro debut in the Irvin Cobb Championships at Paxton Park in July.

Ramey, who won the Rolling Hills Invitational in 2003 and 2004, won the Ozark Invitational at Poplar Bluff, Mo., last weekend, shooting back-to-back 68s and going 6-under-par in the two-day tournament. He completed his college career with a 17th-place finish in the Conference USA tournament.

Michael Craft, Ramey's former Paducah Tilghman teammate, made a similar jump last summer. Craft, a former Murray State player who won the Cobb's amateur division title in 2003, was the first-day leader in the pro division last year and finished in eighth place.

Future plans ...

The four top players in voting for The Paducah Sun's All-Purchase Team have made their college decisions, with one a bit of a surprise and two likely to be teammates.

Marshall County's Travis Spiceland, selected as the Purchase Player of the Year in voting by the First Region coaches, will not play basketball in college. He plans to attend the University of Kentucky College of Engineering school in Paducah.

Expect Paducah Tilghman standouts Isaac McClure and Stefon Perry to sign with junior college programs in the next week or so.

McClure, an athletic 6-5 player, looked like he might be headed to Wabash Valley in Mount Carmel, Ill. Wabash Valley was 18-11 last season and is coached by Dan Sparks, who built Vincennes (Ind.) into a national power before moving across the Wabash River a few years ago. Sparks was former Cairo star Tyrone Nesby's coach at Vincennes. But that deal fell through and McClure could be headed to Southeastern Illinois in Harrisburg.

Perry, a 6-4 forward, and Mayfield star Tony Hockett are probably headed to Jackson State in Tennessee, which went 15-10 last season. Perry had been considering offers from Lake Land (Ill.) and even took a visit to Casper College in Wyoming, but has elected to stay a little closer to home and family in Paducah and Murray.

UK baseball treading water ...

Heath baseball fans might want to keep an eye on their two favorite sons' fortunes with the University of Kentucky baseball team this week. Ranked in the national top 10 earlier this season, the Bat 'Cats are in danger of not making the SEC tournament after getting swept at home by LSU over the weekend.

Kentucky plays Murray State next Monday at Paducah's Brooks Stadium, just after the conclusion of their big-as-it-gets weekend series at Tennessee.

Pitcher Clint Tilford didn't work this weekend after a rough start against Marshall earlier in the week, but Kentucky may have to fill two spots in its weekend rotation. Ace Chris Rusin is scheduled to have an MRI on a sore shoulder, and replacement starter James Paxton left his start on Saturday after throwing just six pitches because of an Achilles' tendon injury.

If Rusin and/or Paxton aren't available, that seems to leave Scott Green as the next option. Green was drafted last spring by the Boston Red Sox, but turned down an $800,000 signing bonus to return to UK. That decision looks awfully shaky right now, considering that Green has already lost his job in the weekend rotation, and Green took the loss in relief against LSU on Saturday.

Outfielder-designated hitter Brock Wright has found playing time scarce because of hand and wrist injuries and the fact that UK's outfield is loaded with star-quality players. But left fielder Keenan Wiley was wearing a boot on his left foot after Sunday's game and it is believed he has a crack in a bone in the foot. If the diagnosis is correct, he could be out for a few weeks.

Wright could get an audition when UK meets Murray next Monday, but the 'Cats have an awful lot of sorting out to do before then.