Author: Evan Ren

FEATURE: Buckaroos approaching series with top-ranked Wall as a special chance

“Great moments are born from great opportunity.” — Herb Brooks 

If the top-ranked Wall baseball team is beatable, nobody has proven it in 2019. 

Area clubs have had 33 opportunities to defeat the Hawks and every one of them have been shot down in flames —more often than not, by lopsided margins. 

That is the challenge currently facing Breckenridge coach Kevin Bartley, whose Buckaroos (32-3) will take on Wall (33-0) in a best-of-three Region I-3A semifinal series, beginning at 1 p.m. Friday at Abilene Christian University. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

FEATURE: Can Brock’s Lady Eagles hit their way to a state title?

If the old saying that pitching and defense win championships is true, then perhaps its premature to give too much attention to the offensive performance of the Brock softball team. 

Then again, there is another adage that for every rule, there is an exception. And with the current numbers being posted by Brock (31-6), one may be tempted to believe that offensive production alone could push the Lady Eagles all the way to the end of the state bracket. 

Skeptical? Try these stats on for size. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

FEATURE: Brock’s Nelson a genuine rarity among high school pitchers

It is an accepted norm that successful high school baseball pitchers require high strikeout counts. 

The reason for that is simple: aluminum bats hitting into high school defenses is a recipe for run production, forcing pitchers to take matters into their own hands. 

There are very few exceptions. Yet the Brock Eagles and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor have managed to find one in senior BHS southpaw Cooper Nelson.  

Nelson, a soft-throwing change-up specialist with razor-sharp control, has required only 49 strikeouts through 78 innings to post an 8-2 record and a microscopic 0.81 ERA.  

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

GAME STORY: Brock hangs on to beat Clyde in decisive Game 2 (two videos and box score included; photo gallery to come later tonight)

With Brock handing Clyde a 10-0 drubbing in Game 1 of their Region I-3A quarterfinal series on Thursday, it may have been tempting for those watching to simply write off the Bulldogs in Game 2.

Brock coach Hart Hering knew better. 

With Clyde facing elimination, the Bulldogs nearly forced a Game 3, falling to Brock 8-6 at Abilene Christian University on Saturday.  

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

GAME STORY: Wylie’s remarkable postseason run stops at a loaded Colony (w/ box score and photo gallery)

GRAFORD — The longer a playoff run continues, the higher the likelihood of running into a softball team that is “loaded.” 

 The remarkable postseason journey of the 2019 Wylie Lady Bulldogs (19-17) closed on that note, falling in a two-game regional semifinal sweep to sixth-ranked Lewisville The Colony — capped with a 12-5 loss in Game 2 on Friday at Graford. 

The loss closed the books on a Wylie campaign that saw the Lady Bulldogs push to within one round of the regional championship series in their first-ever season at the 5A level. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

GAME STORY: Buckaroos edge Holliday in Game 1 thriller (w/ box score, two videos and photo gallery)

GRAHAM — An 18-game winning streak came within an eyelash of ending on Thursday, as the Breckenridge Buckaroos rallied from a 3-1 deficit with a five-run fifth in a nail-biting 6-5 Region I-3A quarterfinal win over Holliday. 

Justin Bell drove in Gerardo Palacios  and Aaryn Medina with a two-out single in fifth to lift the Buckaroos (31-2), who can push their winning streak to 20 games and clinch the best-of-three series if they win Game 2 on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Graham’s Steer Stadium. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

FEATURE: Albany benefiting from latest West installment

Two of his three older brothers — Gus and Ligon — have helped pitch the Stamford Bulldogs into the state tournament in recent years. 

So it may come as no surprise that 17-year-old Albany junior Ben West has made a splash this season as one of the top small-school pitchers in the Big Country. 

The only difference is, this particular West model will be sporting red, rather than blue, when Albany and Haskell meet in a three-game regional quarterfinal series, beginning at 4 p.m. on Thursday at McMurry. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

FEATURE: Buckaroos enter uncharted territory, keeping things simple

BRECKENRIDGE — First-year Breckenridge baseball coach Kevin Bartley is getting a major-league lesson in multi-tasking. 

At present, his Buckaroos are facing a dangerous Holliday team (23-8-2) in the Region I-3A quarterfinals — the biggest postseason challenge his club has faced on its journey to winning the first area baseball championship in school history.

If the Bucks survive the current round, the bar only gets higher — with possible matchups against top-ranked Wall, Clyde or a rematch with district mate Brock among others to prepare for.

All this, while trying to keep everyone on his team on an even keel in a sports-crazy town that can provide plenty of its own distractions. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

Big Country Preps Player of the Week: Tomlinson takes our final award for 2018-19

After a disappointing finish in the high jump Friday morning as the defending champion in that event, Early’s Trinity Tomlinson had one chance at redemption at the state track meet in the 100-meter hurdles. 

She cashed in on the opportunity, finishing in 14.93 seconds to take gold. In doing so, she also earned our final Big Country Preps Player of the Week for the 2018-19 school year. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

GAME STORY: Clyde closes out Eastland with 5-2 win (w/ box score, two videos and photo gallery)

With Eastland only a week removed from a come-from-behind series win over Peaster, the Clyde Lady Bulldogs were anticipating a difficult Game 2 hurdle in their Region I-3A quarterfinal with the Lady Mavs on Saturday. 

They got it.

But with an ample serving of help from junior pitcher Kaitlyn Turner, the Lady Bulldogs rallied from an early deficit to clinch the series with a 5-2 win at ACU’s Wells Field. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

GAME STORY: Clyde takes Game 1 from Eastland 9-4

The old adage that good pitching stops good hitting doesn’t always hold true. 

The ninth-ranked Clyde Lady Bulldogs gave an example of this on Friday, handing No. 7 Eastland and ace pitcher Brynna Foster a 9-4 loss at ACU’s Poly Wells Field. 

Jacie Roberts was 3 for 4 with a double, a triple and four RBIs, and Brooke Widener was 2 for 4 with two RBIs to lead Clyde (28-5), which held off an Eastland rally after building an 8-0 lead by the fifth inning.  

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

State Track meet updates Day 1 and Day 2 (updates throughout the day)

Check throughout the day for updates on how our Big Country track athletes are performing at the UIL State Track meet in Austin. 

BIG COUNTRY MEDALISTS 

DAY 2

— Emily Garcia of Forsan claimed bronze in the girls 2A 200 meters in 25.8 behind Refugio’s Alexa Valenzuela (25.1) and Panhandle’s Maklynn Land (25.6). 

— Brownwood’s AJ McCarty took gold in the boys 4A triple jump at 47-06. 

— Goldthwaite’s Kylee Medina has taken silver in the 2A girls 3,200 meters in 11:46.55, behind Lindsay’s Allison Hedrick (11:38.43). 

— Kyle Lindsey of Stephenville earned the gold medal in the boys 4A high jump with a leap of 6-10.25.

— Haskell’s Lanayah Green, Kara Stout, Kobie Walker and Tyreona Amos took Bronze in the 2A girls 800 relay behind San Augustine (1:43.90) and Sunray (1:43.78). 

Continue reading “State Track meet updates Day 1 and Day 2 (updates throughout the day)”

GAME STORY: Ira, Valentine, hold on to top Baird, 3-2 in Game 1 (w/ two videos and box score; photo gallery to come late tonight)

Through an afternoon of double plays, pickoffs and outfield blunders, it all boiled down to the last out in Ira’s 3-2 Class 1A area-round win over Baird on Thursday at Abilene Christian University’s Crutcher Scott Field.

Karson Valentine scattered eight Baird hits through seven innings to pick up the win, striking out Nate Deel for the final out with the potential tying run — Kollin Davis — at third.

Fanning 10 and walking none, Valentine allowed no earned runs while outdueling Baird’s Jax Bellar, who allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits.

Valentine wriggled out of some late trouble with the game on the line, hitting Davis to start the seventh inning and allowing a two-out double by Ricardo Gonzalez to put two runners in scoring position. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

FEATURE: Ellett finishing the way she started — challenging hitters

Hard curveballs and hard riseballs — most of which are up in the zone, perilously close to a hitter’s wheelhouse.

For much of her high school career, Brownwood ace Chyanne Ellett has lived in that danger zone, matching power against power, thrown at an elevation where hitters tend to like it most. 

In short, she’s good enough to do it — with velocity in the mid-60s, good movement and a knee-buckling changeup, just to keep everyone honest. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

Big Country Preps Player of the Week: Haskell’s Rodriguez goes yard four times to take award

Back in the old days, Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium, home of the Atlanta Braves until the late 1990s, was commonly referred to as “The Launching Pad.”  

I submit to you that since that facility was demoed in 1997, the nickname is now free game and applicable wherever we may choose to use it. 

I choose to apply it to Hermleigh’s beautiful, but not exactly pitcher-friendly softball complex, where our Big Country Preps Player of the Week, Haskell’s Ryanna Rodriguez, put on such a dazzling hitting display. So dazzling that she even eclipsed a no-hitter for our top spot. 

Keep in mind, Rodriguez hadn’t homered all season prior to last week’s area-round series with Winters. But with a strong wind blowing to left-center at The Launching Pad, Rodriguez was transformed into Hank Aaron. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

GAME STORY: Brock sweeps Early, advances to regional quarterfinals (w/ box score and videos)

 

GLEN ROSE — It isn’t often that a team can yield 10 walks and commit three errors, yet still win by 14 runs. 

But the Brock Lady Eagles found abundant compensation on Saturday, eliminating the Early Lady Longhorns 22-8 at Glen Rose High School. 

The answer: solid contact from start to finish, coupled with eight Early errors that saw BHS gradually build an upper hand that was insurmountable. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

GAME STORY: Eastland girls rebound to eliminate Peaster (w/ video, box scores; photo gallery to come late tonight)

GLEN ROSE — A day removed from an 8-3 beating at the hands of Peaster in Game 1 of a Region I-3A area-round series, the Eastland Lady Mavericks were faced with two options on Saturday: either find away to stage a remarkable turnaround or begin their offseason in early May. 

Somehow, EHS managed the former — not once, but twice in a sweep of Games 2 and 3 on Saturday at Glen Rose High School. 

Brynna Foster tossed a total of 17 innings and earned two complete-game victories to lead the Lady Mavs, who topped Peaster 2-1 in 10 innings to tie the series and 3-2 in Game 3 to end it. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

GAME STORY: Bulldoggettes fall 10-0 to Henrietta in Game 1 (w/ video, box score and photo gallery)

 

Friday was a rough day for the Coahoma Bulldoggettes, on two fronts at Abilene Christian University. 

Aside from losing Game 1 of a Class 3A area round series with Henrietta, 10-0 in five innings, CHS had to do without the services of ace pitcher Makynlee Overton, who collapsed in the circle during the fourth inning before being taken to the hospital with a case of heat stroke.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

GAME STORY: Maidens take Game 1 from Winters (two videos, box score and photo gallery w/34 images included)

HERMLEIGH — With a steady, strong wind blowing out directly to center, the stage was set for offensive fireworks in Wednesday’s Class 2A area round game at Hermleigh High School’s softball field.

Haskell and Winters delivered it in a 17-7 win for the Maidens. 

Ryanna Rodriguez was 4 for 4 with three home runs and seven RBIs and Lauren Alexander was 4 for 5 with two homers, a double and three RBIs to lead Haskell (22-8-1), which can wrap up the best-of-three series with a win in Game 2 at 5 p.m. Friday in Hermleigh. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

EVAN REN: The baseball horses are at the post and Big Ev makes his picks

How many Big Country baseball teams, if any, will see action at this year’s state tournament? 

We’re about to settle that issue — at least, on paper. 

With high school baseball’s second season getting underway this evening, let’s take a quick peek ahead and narrow it down to the Big Country teams that have the best chance claiming a regional title. 

Let’s dive in, shall we?  Keep in mind, I’m restricting my selections to teams within our coverage area. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

FEATURE: Coahoma sophomore Overton counting her blessings

Photo courtesy of John Overton

With a 10-2 record, a 2.76 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 81 innings, Coahoma sophomore Makynlee Overton may not give the appearance of someone who is lucky to be standing in the pitcher’s circle. 

The 15-year-old has been at the forefront of a Coahoma surge to the Class 3A area round, with one solid pitching performance after another. Yet she is only a few months removed from a pair of surgeries that doctors believed would force her to miss the entire 2019 season. 

Nonetheless, she will be at centerstage when the Bulldogettes (17-5) take on Henrietta (20-10-1) in Game 1 of a best-of-three series at 6 p.m. Friday at Abilene Christian University’s Wells Field. 

It has Overton, her family, her doctors and her coaches not only marveling at the teen’s determination, but at her recuperative powers as well. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

Big Country Preps Player of the Week: Edmondson takes this week’s spotlight

For Big Country sports fans, the name of Hallie Rose Edmondson is usually associated with basketball, and it will likely stay that way for some time.

An All-Big Country Preps pick on the hardwood, the Roby senior has been a part of a successful RHS varsity program dating back to 2016 when, as a freshman, she saw significant minutes with the Lady Lions in their march to the state semifinals in San Antonio.

She is now committed to play hoops at Hardin-Simmons University beginning next season and, frankly, I’m not surprised.

It is through track and field, however, that Edmondson has found her way into this week’s area spotlight, qualifying for the state meet in four events to capture our BCP Player of the Week award. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

GAME STORY: Coahoma edges Comanche in nine-inning thriller (three videos, box score & photo gallery with 34 images included)

SAN ANGELO — It took nine innings and nearly 2½ hours to decide the issue. But the Coahoma Bulldoggettes, courtesy of a walk-off RBI double from Cassie Grant, got the last word in a thrilling 4-3 win over Comanche on Friday in a one-game bi-district matchup at Angelo State University.   

With the score knotted at 3, Grant hit a shot to deep center to score Kaylor Green — shortly after Comanche had intentionally walked Jaydan Mann to get to Grant who was 0 for 3 up to that point.  

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

SIDEBAR: 2019 could offer Brownwood best chance for return to Austin

BROCK — Every high school athletic program runs in cycles. 

Experienced, inexperienced, talented, not-so-talented, plenty of depth and bone thin —all of which run in varying degrees and mixtures, giving each team its own potential and personality. 

Every so often, enough of the planets align to give a team a memorable season — perhaps even a trip to the state tournament.   

In the view of many, the Brownwood softball team is currently in one of these “up” cycles and is actually at a crucial stage, with star pitcher Chyanne Ellett in her final season as a Lady Lion. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

GAME STORY: Brownwood makes short work of Lady Pines, 14-0 (w/ video, box score and photo gallery)

BROCK — Entering Game 1 of their Class 4A bi-district matchup with Springtown on Thursday, the sixth-ranked Brownwood Lady Lions were generally considered heavy favorites. 

They left that way. 

Combining seven hits of their own with five Springtown errors, five walks and four hit batsmen, the Lady Lions breezed to a 14-0 mercy rule win in five innings at Brock High School. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

EVAN REN: With area softball teams at the starting gate, Big Ev makes his picks

I can’t help but compare a playoff bracket to a horse race, with the bi-district round serving as the starting gate. 

There are favorites, there are possible surprises and there are longshots. And in the end, picking who has the best chance of hitting the finish line at the state tournament is part knowledge and part luck — mostly luck.

 At this track, I’m restricted to making Big Country choices — the area teams I believe have the best chance of getting to McCombs Field at the University of Texas in Austin from May 29-June 1. 

Will a Big Country team have a shot when we get to the home stretch? We shall see. 

Here’s my picks for the 2019 softball playoff run: 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

Big Country Preps Player of the Week: Wylie duo splits this week’s award

Wylie juniors Kaylee Philipp and Bailey Buck share much in common.

They both split their time on the diamond between the pitcher’s circle and first base.

They are both leaders — in word and deed — for the now-District 4-5A champion Lady Bulldogs.

And most recently, they’ve both been selected to share our Big Country Preps Player of the Week honor for the week ending April 20.

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

FEATURE: Stamford’s Gutierrez a legitimate star in the making

STAMFORD — Some people know, the instant they pick up a softball and try to throw it underhand, that they can be good at it.  And those watching with a keen eye for talent recognize it at the exact same time.

In fastpitch parlance, they are what is known as a natural — someone who can perform this difficult task as though it were an afterthought. 

The Big Country is currently being introduced to one of these rarities in Stamford freshman Citlaly Gutierrez, with results that are making area coaches shake their heads in disbelief. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

GAME STORY: Stamford, Gutierrez, edge Haskell 2-1 to complete district sweep (box score included, photo gallery to come late tonight)

STAMFORD — Entering Thursday’s District 7-2A matchup at Stamford, Haskell coach Eric Simmons knew that his team no margin for error. 

Facing Stamford freshman sensation Citlaly Gutuierrez (24-0-1) who had already struck out more than 300 hitters on the season, the Maidens had to be nearly perfect. 

They fell just short, losing 2-1 in a well-pitched, well-played game by both teams. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

FEATURE: Eastland’s Foster maturing into quality pitcher

EASTLAND — Two years ago as a varsity greenhorn, Eastland pitcher Brynna Foster had a lot of learning to do. 

She had the raw talent to pitch. But her velocity and movement had yet to develop fully. Her changeup came on predictable counts, and as a freshman, she still lacked the poise that only maturity can bring. 

Yet she was still effective enough to help the Lady Mavericks into postseason play, despite her youthful shortcomings. 

Two years later, with improved velocity, and a rise, curve, screwball, drop and changeup that she can deliver on any count, Foster is not only dramatically better, but she’s currently one of the top pitchers in the entire Big Country. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

GAME STORY: Eastland escapes Comanche sweep (box score and photo gallery w/38 images included)

COMANCHE — For four full innings, the Comanche Maidens looked poised to piece together a season sweep of ninth-ranked Eastland on Tuesday, leading the Lady Mavericks 2-0 heading into the fifth. 

It didn’t happen. 

Plagued by a series of fielding miscues down the stretch, Comanche saw Eastland take the lead for good with three unearned runs over the fifth and sixth frames and escape CHS with a 4-2 win. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

Big Country Preps Player of the Week: Clyde junior snags the spotlight

Clyde junior Kaitlyn Turner is already recognized as one of the better softball pitchers in the Big Country. 

What some don’t realize, however, is that the right-hander is a dual threat, both in the circle and in the batter’s box, as demonstrated in last week’s wins over Anson (5-1) and Colorado City (10-0). 

Earning two wins in the circle, our Big Country Preps Player of the Week allowed just one earned run through two starts with 15 strikeouts, including a five-hit shutout of C-City. 

She was nearly as harmful with a bat in her hands, going a combined 5 of 7 at the plate. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us

FEATURE: Fun-loving Lady Steers hopeful of deep playoff run

BIG SPRING — While it is universally accepted that remaining focused is a good thing in athletics, there are those who believe it can be taken a bit too far … beyond the point of having any fun.   

Case in point: the 12th-ranked Big Spring Lady Steers (16-7) who enter this week with a District 5-4A title already in their back pocket, despite putting the enjoyment of the game at a premium. 

The Lady Steers have taken the uber-serious road before and it didn’t work out so well, allowing frustration to bubble over in some  of their losses.  

These days, Big Spring is taking a different tack  — one were obsessing over success is actually viewed as a hindrance to success. 

You need to login to view the rest of the content. Please . Not a Member? Join Us