Author: Daniel Youngblood

GAME STORY: Coleman rallies for pair of wins over Forsan, sweeps way into I-2A quarters

After having the opener of its area-round series with Forsan postponed by inclement weather on Friday, the Coleman baseball team showed up to Hardin-Simmons University’s Hunter Field ready to compete on Saturday. 

Despite trailing at different stages of both games, the Bluecats swept the Buffaloes, following an 8-5 win in nine innings with a 13-8 victory in Saturday’s late game to win the best-of-three area-round series and earn a date in the Region I-2A quarterfinals with Albany.

After extending Game 1 with a run in the seventh inning and limiting Forsan to a single run in a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the eighth, Coleman used a three-run ninth to put the Buffaloes on the brink of elimination. And after absorbing a two-run Forsan first and trailing 4-3 heading into the home half of the third in Game 2, the Bluecats scored 10 of the final 14 runs to survive and advance.

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GAME STORY: Brock outlasts Coahoma to sweep weather-delayed area-round series

The Brock baseball team overcame a long weather delay and a scrappy Coahoma team to advance to the Region I-3A quarterfinals on Friday, sweeping the Bulldogs 3-0 and 12-2 at Abilene High’s Blackburn Field.

Due to a thunderstorm that swept through Abilene in the fifth inning of Game 1, the Eagles didn’t finish their 4:30 series opener until after 9:30, which pushed the end of Game 2 past midnight. 

But Brock got a pair of strong pitching performances and found its offense in the late game to put away Coahoma and earn a third-round playoff matchup with the winner of Jim Ned and Holliday next week.

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GAME RECAP: Wylie headed back to I-5A semifinals after edging Randall in Game 2

WOODROW — The Wylie softball team closed out Canyon Randall with its second one-run victory in as many days, edging the Lady Raiders 2-1 on Friday at Lubbock Cooper to sweep the best-of-three Region I-5A quarterfinals series.

Rylee Moore, who pitched the seventh to earn the save in Game 1 on Thursday, went the whole way in the circle in the clincher, limiting Randall to just one run on four hits  and two walks while striking out nine.

The junior pitcher got all the support she needed in the first inning, when the Lady Bulldogs answered a one-run top of the first with two in the bottom of the frame to account for the only lead change in the game.

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GAME STORY: Anson scores pair of run-rule wins over Christoval, punches ticket to I-2A quarterfinals

The Anson Tigers became the first area baseball team to punch their ticket to the third round of the playoffs on Thursday, earning a pair of run-rule wins over Christoval to sweep their Region I-2A area-round series with the Cougars.

Fueled by a pair of outstanding pitching efforts, coach Scotty Nichols team followed a 13-0 win in Game 1 with a 10-0 victory in Game 2 to make quick work of Christoval at Abilene High’s Blackburn Field.

The Tigers (24-1-1) will now await the result of this weekend’s series between Hamilton (20-7) and Colorado City (8-11) to see who they will play in the Region I-2A quarterfinals next week.

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GAME STORY: Sophomore ace Pepper, Wall Hawks gut out 4-3 over Jacksboro in Game 1

The Wall baseball team rallied from an early 2-1 deficit to defeat Jacksboro 4-3 on Thursday at Abilene Cooper, grabbing a quick 1-0 advantage in its best-of-three Region I-3A area-round series against the Tigers.

The Hawks managed just seven hits — six of those singles — and stranded seven base runners, but coach Jason Schniers’ squad got a strong enough outing from sophomore ace Nathan Pepper to overcome a sluggish offensive performance against the Jacksboro pitching duo of Kyler Swan and Lando Belcher.

The Game 1 victory puts Wall in position to close out the series Friday, when it resumes with Game 2 at 5 p.m. at Cooper.

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GAME STORY: Albany’s Chapman comes through on mound, at plate in walk-off win over Eldorado

Junior standout Cole Chapman did it all for the Albany Lions on Thursday.

In addition to delivering a complete-game gem on the mound, the lanky right-hander also came through with the game-winning hit with two outs in the seventh inning to fuel AHS to a 3-2 walk-off win over Eldorado in Game 1 of a Region I-2A area-round series at Abilene Christian University’s Crutcher Scott Field.

Thanks to Chapman’s heroics, the Lions improved to 16-4 on the year and will need just one win when the best-of-three series resumes Saturday in San Angelo.

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GAME RECAP: Reed’s seventh-inning homer lifts Wylie softball to Game 1 win over Randall

WOODROW — The Wylie Lady Bulldogs continued their torrid run, opening a best-of-three Region I-5A quarterfinal series against Canyon Randall with a dramatic 6-5 win on Thursday at Lubbock Cooper to improve to 4-0 in the playoffs with their 11th win in their last 12 games.

Leading 4-0 after three innings and 5-1 with 5½ frames in the book, Wylie saw its lead erased when Randall pushed four runs across in the bottom of the sixth.

But sophomore Mycala Reed launched a solo home run in the seventh — the Lady Bulldogs’ third long ball of the game — for what proved to be the game-winning run. 

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FEATURE: State-bound Coahoma senior Ott a wheelchair track pioneer, success story

Four years ago, at the urging of superintendent Brad Cox, Coahoma’s Vance Ott joined the Bulldog track team on a lark.

Few could have predicted — or even dreamt — at the time that that would serve as the first chapter of one the greatest success stories in Big Country track and field history.

Ott, who would become the area’s first wheelchair division state qualifier that year as a freshman, became the Big Country’s first state medalist and champion last spring as a junior. Now preparing to compete in his final state meet on Friday, the senior has a collegiate career to look forward to at the University of Arizona and a dream to one day represent Team USA in the Paralympic Games.

That’s quite a rise for for a young man whose original high school plans didn’t include track at all.

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FEATURE: Young Wall baseball team establishing itself as contender in Region I-3A

During his 14 years with the Wall baseball program — the last 13 of those as the Hawks head coach — Jason Schniers has seen some excellent teams.

In addition to the 2019 squad, which won the program’s first state title, and the 2017 bunch that came within a game of earning that distinction, the Wall coach has had numerous other clubs play three or four rounds into the Region I-3A playoffs.

So when Schniers says a team can play, it can play.

That’s good news for fans of this year’s squad, which enters this week’s area-round series against Jacksboro at 24-6. With seven sophomores and three freshmen on their 17-player roster, the 2022 Hawks are considerably younger than Wall’s best teams of the past, but their potential, Schniers said, may be every bit as high. 

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GAME STORY: Anson rides fast start to 8-1 win over Miles, advances to area round

Coming off a hard-fought 5-3 win over Miles in Game 1 of their Region I-2A bi-district series against the Bulldogs, the Anson Tigers eliminated the drama early in Game 2 on Saturday, scoring four first-inning runs on their way to an 8-1 series-clinching win at Abilene Cooper.

Coach Scotty Nichols’ squad led 7-0 by the end of the third inning and 8-0 before Miles finally scored in the sixth to avoid the shutout.

The victory, which improved the Tigers to 22-1-1, earned AHS an area-round date with Christoval next week.

Continue reading “GAME STORY: Anson rides fast start to 8-1 win over Miles, advances to area round”

GAME STORY: Read spins gem, Albany bats explode late in series-clinching rout of Winters

Behind a gem of a start by Cole Read and a late explosion at the plate, the Albany baseball team rolled to a 12-0 win over Winters in Game 2 of its Region I-2A bi-district series, sweeping the best-of-three affair to advance to the area round next week.

Leading the Blizzards 3-0 after four innings Saturday at the Abilene Cooper baseball field, the Lions put up three runs in the fifth and six in the sixth to turn a tight game into a run-rule victory.

Read pitched into the sixth, before handing the ball to reliever Cooper Fairchild, who recorded the final outs to complete the combined shutout. The Lions starter allowed just five hits and three walks while striking out five to earn the win.

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GAME STORY: Coleman rides big first inning to 7-5 win over Stamford in Game 1

A big first inning gave the Coleman baseball team a lead it would never relinquish Friday in Game 1 of its Region I-2A bi-district series against Stamford. But that didn’t mean things were easy for the Bluecats in their 7-5 win over the Bulldogs at Abilene High’s Blackburn Field.

Leading 6-1 after three innings, CHS nearly saw its lead erased in the bottom of the sixth. But with runners on second and third and no outs, Stamford could score only one of those runs, keeping the Bluecat lead at one heading into the final inning.

Coleman then plated an insurance run in its half of the seventh and reliever Ryland Gentry struck out the side in the bottom to save the victory for starter Jorge Salas.

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GAME STORY: Chapman, two big innings fuel Albany past Winters in Game 1

Junior ace Cole Chapman gave Albany a strong start on the mound and his offense did the rest as the Lions opened their Region I-2A bi-district series against Winters with a 11-4 win at Abilene Cooper. 

AHS scored two in the first and four in the third to take an early 6-0 lead, before extinguishing a potential Winters rally with a four-run sixth inning to put the game away.

The victory improved the Lions to 14-4 on the year and put coach David Fairchild’s team one win away from a series victory and a trip to the area round.

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FEATURE: Early pinning hopes of a deep playoff run on talented pitching staff

In baseball, there’s no substitute for quality pitching.

If you have it, you can win any game you play. If you don’t, your team’s ceiling drops precipitously.

The Early baseball team falls firmly into the first camp. And it’s for that reason, the Longhorns (18-4) are entering the playoffs with a sky-high confidence level and matching expectations.

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GAME STORY: Wall crushes Stanton 15-2, 16-0 to advance to area round

The Wall baseball team kicked off its playoff run with a pair of dominant efforts Thursday, run-ruling Stanton 15-2 and 16-0 at Abilene Christian University’s Crutcher Scott Field to sweep the Buffaloes in a Region I-3A bi-district series.

The Hawks, who were coming off a 10-3 win over Jim Ned to clinch the No. 1 seed out of District 6-3A on Monday, were dominant in all facets against Stanton, outhitting the Buffs 25-2 over the two games.

The victory improved WHS to 23-6 on the year and earned the Hawks an area-round date next week with the winner of this weekend’s bi-district series between Jacksboro and Comanche.

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FEATURE: Lone senior Whitehead, large junior class have Wylie in midst of another strong season

When it comes to senior leadership, the 2022 Wylie softball team is measuring in quality, not quantity. 

With just one fourth-year player on this year’s roster — center fielder Ryleigh Whitehead — the Lady Bulldogs aren’t as deep in seasoned voices as many of their past teams have been.

But Whitehead, who was been on varsity since earning a call-up for the playoffs as a freshman in 2019, has proven quite capable as a lead singer. And with eight talented juniors behind her providing near pitch-perfect backup vocals, Wylie’s lone senior is far from a solo act.

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CLASS 4A REGIONAL TRACK ROUNDUP: Big Spring boys, Stephenville girls headline successful I-4A meet for area

The Stephenville girls and Big Spring boys both finished third in their respective team competitions over the weekend at the Region I-4A track meet to headline a strong effort for area teams and athletes.

The Honeybees amassed 94 points to finish behind only team champion Canyon (122) and runner-up Argyle (106) while the Steers finished with 52 points — 10 behind second-place Decatur and 51 behind boys champion Argyle.

In all, Big Country relay teams and athletes accounted for 21 total medals — 10 on the boys side and 11 on the girls side.

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LOCAL TRACK ROUNDUP: Wylie high jumper Maroney statebound after second-place region finish

Wylie sophomore Indiah Maroney punched her ticket to the Class 5A state meet over the weekend in Lubbock, finishing second in the high jump at the Region I-5A meet to earn a trip to the Austin in two weeks.

Maroney, the only local athlete to earn a spot at state, cleared a personal-best of 5-foot-5 to match region champion Anaya Potter of Justin Northwest, but she took a silver medal on attempts.

The 6-foot-2 sophomore, who also starts for the Wylie girls basketball team, accounted for eight of the Lady Bulldogs’ nine team points and the bulk of the 14 points earned by Abilene high school athletes at the Region I-5A and I-6A meets.

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REGION I-3A TRACK MEET: Brock, Breck go 1-2 in boys team race, Merkel standout claims four golds

Coming off the first region and state titles in program history in 2021, the Brock boys track team was successful in its first title defense, running away with the team championship at the Region I-3A meet Saturday at Abilene Christian University’s Elmer Gray Stadium.

The Eagles finished with 99 points — 44 more than second-place Breckenridge — to headline a strong performance for athletes throughout the Big Country Preps coverage area on the meet’s second day.

Merkel, meanwhile, had the top finish for the girls, riding a stellar meet from senior Alyssa O’Malley to 52 points and a fifth-place team finish — one spot ahead of the Brock Lady Eagles, who placed sixth with 44 points.

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GAME STORY: Early softball rides fast start to Game 1 win over Henrietta

The Early softball team scored the first five runs of the game and held off a late Henrietta rally to claim a 6-4 win over the Lady Cats on Friday in the opener of a best-of-three Region I-3A bi-district series at Abilene Christian University’s Poly Wells Field. 

The Lady Longhorns were held to just five hits by a pair of Henrietta pitchers, but after plating two runs in the first to take an early lead, coach Alfonso Chavez’s team took advantage of some aggressive baserunning and two Lady Cat errors to pull the victory across the finish line.

Trailing 5-0 after four frames, HHS pulled within two with back-to-back two-run innings in the fifth and sixth. But Early pitcher Teagan Lopez stopped the bleeding there, pitching a scoreless seventh to close out a complete-game victory.

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GAME RECAP: Farrar pitches Wylie past Amarillo Caprock in 2-0 bi-district triumph

WOODROW — Reese Farrar pitched a complete-game gem and her Wylie teammates gave her just enough run support Thursday as the Lady Bulldogs edged Amarillo Caprock 2-0 in a single-game bi-district playoff at Lubbock Cooper High School.

The junior pitcher allowed just two hits on her way to a shutout, striking out 15 Caprock batters without a walk. The Wylie lineup, meanwhile, plated one run in the second and another in the fourth to make that hold up for the win.

The victory improved the Lady Bulldogs to 19-7 on the season and earned coach Heather Collier’s squad a Region I-5A area-round matchup with the winner between El Paso Chapin and Canutillo next week.

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GAME STORY: No. 9 Coahoma softball team dominant in bi-district sweep of Wall

FORSAN — The ninth-ranked Coahoma softball team kicked off its playoff run in style Thursday, scoring a pair of run-rule wins over Wall to sweep its Region I-3A bi-district series and advance to next week’s area round.

Fueled by fast starts in both games, the Buldogettes opened with a 13-3 win in Game 1 before shutting out the Lady Hawks 10-0 in Game 2 to improve to 25-4-1 and earn a matchup with the Early-Henrietta winner next week.

It was the 15th consecutive win for Coahoma, which is 18-0-1 since its last loss, a 4-3 setback to Class 5A Lubbock Cooper on March 8. 

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GAME STORY: Gay one-hits Cooper as Wylie scores run-rule win on Senior Night

Behind a dominant effort by starter Brooks Gay, the Wylie baseball team cruised to a 10-0 win over crosstown rival Cooper on Tuesday, using a three-run third and a five-run fifth to break open what was a close game in the early innings at Bulldog Field.

Gay, an Abilene Christian University signee, struck out eight batters in a six-inning complete game, allowing just four baserunners in the contest. The tall right-hander pitched around an error and a hit batsman in the first, before limiting the visiting Cougars to a single and a walk the rest of the way.

The Wylie lineup did the rest, overcoming a slow start against Cooper pitcher Colin Reed to score at least one run in each of the final four frames and earn a run-rule victory on Senior Night.

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FEATURE: Senior-fueled run to end district has AHS riding wave of momentum into playoffs

Five games into District 2-6A play, things weren’t going at all how the Abilene High softball team had hoped they would.

The Lady Eagles were 1-4 following consecutive losses to Midland Legacy (5-4), Wolfforth Frenship (9-6), Odessa High (8-6) and Midland High (2-0) and were at risk of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

But things took a dramatic turn with a 2-1 nine-inning win over San Angelo Central on March 29, which kicked off a 6-1 run to finish league play. That turnaround, fueled by a six-player senior class that wasn’t content to end district the same way it started, has AHS entering the postseason at 16-11 overall and riding a wave of momentum that few could have predicted just a month ago.

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GAME STORY: Wylie baseball run-rules Lubbock High in first-ever night home game

Playing a home game under lights for the first time in program history, the Wylie baseball team took care of business against Lubbock High on Friday, combining a strong pitching performance with consistent offense to earn a 10-0 win at Bulldog Field.

Pitchers Trey Gomez and Grayson Bearden combined for six innings of one-hit ball, while the Wylie lineup scored in every inning but the fifth to end the game early and improve to 17-5 overall and 10-3 in District 4-5A play.

Leading 4-0 after three innings, Wylie took control with a five-run fourth, before putting the 10-run rule into effect with Tye Briscoe’s RBI double in the sixth. 

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GAME RECAP: Abilene High closes out District 2-6A play with 6-1 win at San Angelo Central

SAN ANGELO — The Abilene High softball team closed out the regular season with a 6-1 win over San Angelo Central on Friday, clinching the No. 3 playoff spot out of District 2-6A in the process.

The Lady Eagles, who won six of their final seven games to close district play, got a strong start from Diana Silva and scored in four of the first six innings to pull away for a comfortable road win.

The victory improved AHS to 16-11 overall and 7-5 in district play.

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GAME STORY: Wylie softball routs Cooper in wacky, windy regular-season finale

The Wylie softball team closed out its regular season in dominating fashion on Friday, scoring early and often in a 23-1 rout of crosstown rival Cooper at Bulldog Field.

Battling heavy winds all afternoon, the Lady Bulldogs pounded out 12 runs in the first two innings to knock out the Lady Cougars’ top two pitchers, and the visitors had to turn to position players in the circle for the remainder of the game. This allowed the score to get even more out of hand, as Wylie took advantage of eight combined walks in the third and fourth innings before ending the game in the the fifth by way of the 10-run rule.

The victory improved the Lady Bulldogs 18-7 overall and 7-3 in the District 4-5A play, while the Lady Cougars wrapped up a tough campaign at 13-11-3 and 2-8.

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GAME STORY: Abilene High softball drops nine-inning thriller to Midland High on Senior Night

The Abilene High Lady Eagles couldn’t extend their winning to six games Tuesday, dropping their Senior Night matchup with Midland High 4-3 in a nine-inning thriller.

Playing its final home game of the regular season, AHS had opportunities to take down District 2-6A’s second-place team. But the Lady Eagles couldn’t capitalize on some late scoring opportunities in suffering their first loss since falling to the Lady Bulldogs 2-0 on March 25 in Midland.

Abilene High, which was on the wrong end of a perfect game the last time it faced MHS starter Alex Aguilar, collected seven hits and two walks on Tuesday. But the Lady Eagles scored just one run after the third inning, stranding seven runners on base for the game, including six in scoring position.

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GAME STORY: Coleman Bluekatts explode late, rally for 7-2 win over Winters

WINTERS — For four innings Friday, the Coleman softball team had trouble solving Winters pitcher Kacie Lindley. 

The Bluekatts had at least one base runner in each of those frames, leading off the first inning with a double by Brylei Gilbreath and the second with a triple by Alana Young, but they had no runs to show for their efforts as Lindley made the pitch she needed to escape trouble each time she found herself in it.

That changed in the fifth inning, though, when Coleman finally broke through against the Lady Blizzards starter, pushing across three runs to erase a 1-0 deficit and open the offensive flood gates in a 7-2 win at the Winters softball field.

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