Author: Brandon McAuliffe

FCA VOLLEYBALL: Coaches enjoy different perspective

Ever since the Big Country FCA added volleyball to its annual All-Star Festival five years ago, they’ve gone with a different format than you’ll see in any other match.

Sure the two squads are prepared to play five sets, but the first two sets are a relaxed atmosphere to ensure that everyone gets into the game before it becomes hyper-competitive in a best-of-three match to determine the winner.

The first year of the event caused plenty of confusion, but since then the unique format has allowed for memories to be extra special.

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UPDATED: Abilene High stays in house for new football coach, promotes DC Fullen

The Eagle has landed.

A coaching search that lasted just over five weeks has finally drawn to a close with Abilene High naming Mike Fullen as the new head football coach on Monday morning.

Fullen, who has spent 22 of the past 23 seasons on the Abilene High staff, was previously the squad’s associate head coach and defensive coordinator and led the Eagles through spring football.

Continue reading “UPDATED: Abilene High stays in house for new football coach, promotes DC Fullen”

GAME STORY: Mascorro’s home run difference in Wall’s win over Brock

Charlie Mascorro’s two-run fourth inning home run was the difference as Wall rallied for a 3-2 win over Brock in the opening game of the Region I-3A final at ACU’s Crutcher Scott Field on Thursday night.

Mascorro’s blast to left field provided the winning run as Caleb Heuertz and Ryan Gully combined to hold the Eagles to four hits as top-ranked Wall improved to 36-0 this season.

Continue reading “GAME STORY: Mascorro’s home run difference in Wall’s win over Brock”

SIDEBAR: Wall’s defense too powerful for Buckaroos

Wall shortstop Ryan Gully showed off range Saturday that would have made Ozzie Smith proud in the Hawks’ Region I-3A semifinal against Breckenridge.

The senior made countless eye-popping stops to either rob a hit or prevent extra bases and his play is a big reason top-ranked Wall will face Brock for a state berth next week.

“He has been like that (all season) and has been really comfortable coming back from his injury,” Wall coach Jason Schniers said. “That was a big injury for a 17-, 18-year-old kid. He made plays tonight that in the back of my mind I was just like ‘Wow. I’m glad he’s on my team.'”

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FEATURE: Family ties too strong for Lombard to resist leaving Wall

In the end, it took a special situation for Tate Lombard to leave girls basketball powerhouse Wall.

That opportunity came about over the weekend and the Big Country Preps girls basketball coach of the year resigned his position on Monday morning to take an assistant coach position on his father’s staff at Class 4A Canyon High School.

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GAME STORY: Big innings, Kizer fuel Brock softball to 17-0 win over Slaton

No. 7 ranked Brock got a one-hitter from Lauren Kizer and rolled to a 17-0 win over Slaton in the opening game of the Region I-3A semifinals Friday at Abilene Christian University’s Wells Field.

Kizer finished the night with 12 strikeouts, recording at least two in every inning and striking out the side in the second and fifth innings.

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GAME STORY: Albany sweeps district rival Haskell in regional quarterfinals

Albany leadoff hitter B.J. Morris safely reached base in his first seven plate appearances on Thursday night and led the Lions to a Region I-2A quarterfinal sweep over Haskell with 15-1 and 6-3 wins at McMurry’s Walt Driggers Field.

The sweep propelled Albany into the regional semifinals against the winner of the Hale Center-Gruver series.

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GAME STORY: Stamford unable to overcome hitting woes in loss to Windthorst

Citlaly Gutierrez put the Stamford softball team on her back Saturday morning, but it wasn’t enough as the Lady Bulldogs dropped Game 3 of their Region I-2A quarterfinal matchup with Windthorst 4-2 at ACU’s Wells Field.

Gutierrez went 2-for-3 at the plate with a home run and drew a walk while scattering six hits and striking 13. She threw 130 pitches and started off 27 of 33 batters with a strike.

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SIDEBAR: Clyde softball driven to repeat 2018’s success

After falling in the regional final last year to Brock, the Clyde softball team has had one goal in mind for the 2019 season — make it back to the final.

The Lady Bulldogs took the next step on Saturday as they finished off a two-game sweep of Eastland in the Region I-3A quarterfinal to setup a date with District 1-3A champion Bushland next week.

The disappointment of last spring’s run ending just shy of a state tournament berth pushed Clyde through the offseason and during the 2019 spring.

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GAME STORY: No. 7 ranked Breckenridge sweeps Anson

Breckenridge’s Owen Woodward had a walk-off three-run home run for a 12-2 win over Anson on Friday night at ACU’s Crutcher Scott Field in the first game of a best-of-three Region I-3A baseball series.

“It felt pretty good,” Woodward said. “It helped us roll into the second win.”

The Buckaroos then finished off the sweep with a 13-1 win in the nightcap to advance to face Holliday, which swept Jim Ned on Friday.

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GAME STORY: Brownwood pummels Midland Greenwood, advances in baseball postseason

The Brownwood baseball team advanced to the third round of the postseason with a pair of decisive wins over Midland Greenwood on Friday afternoon at ACU’s Crutcher Scott Field.

The Lions posted wins of 12-0 and 15-3 to win the best-of-three Region I-4A area-round series and earn a date with the winner of the Argyle-Graham series that also saw its first two games being contested Friday.

Argyle is the top-ranked team in the state.

Continue reading “GAME STORY: Brownwood pummels Midland Greenwood, advances in baseball postseason”

GAME STORY: Anson outlasts Early in extra innings to advance

It took parts of four days, but the Anson baseball team is moving on to the area round of the Region I-3A playoffs after a comeback in their best-of-three bi-district series with Early.

After taking the second game 15-10 at Abilene Christian University’s Crutcher Scott Field, the Tigers outlasted the Longhorns 7-6 in nine innings in the deciding game to take a 2-1 series win.

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GAME STORY: Big Spring softball advances past Glen Rose

The Big Spring softball team notched a 20-win season on Saturday with a 4-1 win over Glen Rose in a Region I-4A area round matchup at Abilene Christian University in the deciding game of their best-of-three series.

Glen Rose held off a Lady Steers rally in Game 2 for a 6-5 win that forced the winner-take-all situation.

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GAME STORY: Jim Ned blasts Eastland 11-1 in Game 3

Ryan Lewis didn’t realize the train that goes through Tuscola passes by on average every 30 minutes during the night.

If he did, the Jim Ned baseball coach might not have slept at the fieldhouse after getting back from the Indians 10-4 Game 2 Region I-3A bi-district loss to Eastland at 1:30 a.m. in a best-of-three series.

The Indians had a short turnaround with the deciding game being at 10:30 Saturday morning at Abilene Christian University’s Crutcher Scott Field, but the lack of sleep didn’t hurt them as they used eight stolen bases and a stellar pitching performance from Kade Frazier for an 11-1 win.

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GAME STORY: Cisco runs past Merkel and into the second round

Stephen Bird

CISCO — After Merkel freshman pitcher Blaine Palmer needed just 12 pitches to retire the first five Cisco batters, Stephen Bird knew he needed to draw out his first at-bat.

Bird drew a six-pitch walk before scoring on Dawson White’s RBI double to jumpstart the Cisco offense which routed Merkel 12-0 at Cisco College on Friday to finish off a sweep of the Region I-3A bi-district series.

Cisco advances to face the winner of the Brock-Childress series next week.

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GAME STORY: Reagan pitches Early past Colorado City, into second round

After a wild 15-11 win in extra innings in Thursday’s opening game of the Region I-3A bi-district round of the softball playoffs, the Early Lady Longhorns got a dominant performance in the circle from Laiken Reagan on Saturday afternoon.

Reagan had seven strikeouts and scattered three hits at Abilene Christian University’s Wells Field as Early finished off a sweep of Colorado City with a 2-0 win.

The Lady Longhorns pitcher threw 93 pitches (69 strikes, 24 balls) while facing 26 batters, leading her team to an area-round date with Brock next week.

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GAME STORY: Clyde takes 5-3A district championship with 5-3 win over Jim Ned

TUSCOLA — The Clyde baseball team clinched its fourth consecutive district championship with a 5-3 win over Jim Ned on Monday night in District 5-3A play.

Riley Rice went 6.2 innings and allowed three runs while scattering four hits. Rice also struck out eight and walked three as he outdueled Jim Ned freshman Tate Yardley.

Yardley went 5.1 innings, giving up four runs on eight hits while striking out four. He walked one and hit four others.

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GAME STORY: Bullpen struggles cost Abilene High in extra-inning loss

In what can only be summed up using the word stunning, the Abilene High baseball team ended its District 3-6A slate with a 17-13 loss to Euless Trinity in eight innings Friday at Blackburn Field.

The Trojans sent 11 (sixth), eight (seventh) and 10 (eighth) batters to the plate in the final three innings, scoring 12 runs after AHS starting pitcher Bailey Aulerich was pulled due to pitch count limitations with the Eagles up 12-5 in the sixth.

The senior scattered eight hits over 5.2 innings, allowing seven runs (four earned) while striking out four and walking three. Two of the runs charged to Aulerich scored after he had been pulled.

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GAME STORY: Tant’s one-hitter leads Jim Ned to 7-0 win over Anson

TUSCOLA — Landon Tant flirted with his second no-hitter of the season, allowing just a two-out single in the fifth inning to lead Jim Ned to a 7-0 win over Anson on Tuesday night in District 5-3A action.

Tant had 12 strikeouts and allowed just three walks as Jim Ned improved to 16-6 overall and 9-1 in district. The Tigers, meanwhile, fell two games back in the standings. Tant struck out at least one batter in every inning except the sixth.

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FEATURE: PlayMaker deals with change to continue its mission

Over its first five years, the annual PlayMaker: Making A Difference even has dealt with a constant venue change — never being held in the same spot twice.

This year’s event, however, saw a change that Hamlin football coach (and event organizer) Russell Lucas couldn’t have even predicted.

Slated to be a three-day retreat at co-organizer Dan Byerly’s ranch south of Hamlin (the sixth venue in the event’s six years), Lucas and his staff had to call a late audible Saturday morning to move the event from the ranch to Hamlin High School.

Yes, a second venue for this year.

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GAME STORY: Tempers flare and emotions boil over as Eagles get no-hit

SAN ANGELO — The Abilene High baseball team is in a fight for the final playoff berth out of District 3-6A and the emotions of that boiled over Tuesday night in a 1-0 loss to San Angelo Central.

The loss dropped the Eagles (15-8 overall, 4-5 in district) a half-game behind Weatherford (16-9, 4-4) for the fourth and final playoff spot.

Trey Neslage threw a no-hitter for the Bobcats (18-11-1, 6-3), taking advantage of a large strike zone to rack up eight strikeouts (five looking) while walking four and hitting two others on an efficient 86 pitches.

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GAME STORY: Clyde’s Laughlin outduels Jim Ned’s Tant

CLYDE — Jim Ned’s Landon Tant was coming off a no-hitter in his last appearance, but it was Clyde’s Payton Laughlin who had the electric stuff at Bulldog Field on Tuesday night.

Laughlin took a no-hitter into the third inning before yielding his first hit and had seven strikeouts in a dominant performance as Clyde took a 2-0 win in District 5-3A play to create a first place tie in the district standings.

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GAME STORY: Timely hits, stellar pitching lead Wylie to historic softball win over Cooper

The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “There is no greater danger than underestimating your opponent.”

That saying was proven true by both the Wylie and Cooper softball teams on Friday afternoon in a District 4-5A matchup at Bulldog Field — one that marked the first regular season matchup between the two schools ever.

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GAME STORY: Woodward pitches Breckenridge past Boyd

BRECKENRIDGE — The Breckenridge baseball team wasn’t supposed to be playing at home on Tuesday night, but the Buckaroos found themselves there anyway due to ongoing renovations at Boyd’s field.

Entering the night in a three-way tie with the Yellowjackets and Paradise for second place in District 7-3A, the Buckaroos turned to staff ace Owen Woodward to try and remain a game behind district leader Brock.

Woodward was magnificent in 6.2 shutout innings before being lifted due to pitch count limitations as the Buckaroos took a 2-0 win to move to 16-2 on the season and 4-1 in district play.

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GAME STORY: Jayton knocks off Irion County for first state berth (w/ video)

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The Jayton Jaybirds boys basketball team is heading 332 miles south to the state tournament for the first time in school history.

Some of coach Ryan Bleiker’s final instructions to his squad in the locker room before the game were: “Never been done before. Never been done. There’s not many things in Jayton you can say has never been done before. This is one of them.”

The Jaybirds punched their ticket to San Antonio with a 47-32 win over Mertzon Irion County on Saturday afternoon at Abilene Christian University’s Moody Coliseum.

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GAME STORY: Jayton advances to first regional final since 1977 with win over Eden

They say that history has a way of repeating itself but the 2018-19 Jayton boys basketball team evidently missed that memo.

After losing in the regional semifinals in three of the past four seasons, the Jaybirds finally broke through in an emphatic way with a 58-25 win over Eden at Abilene Christian University’s Moody Coliseum on Friday night.

The win secured coach Ryan Bleiker’s squad a berth in the Region II-1A final on Saturday at 2 p.m. Jayton will face Irion County for a berth in next week’s state tournament in San Antonio.  Irion County knocked off Paducah 69-58 in the late game.