Author: Brandon McAuliffe

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.

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GAME STORY: Jim Ned boys fall to Childress in double-overtime thriller

STAMFORD — Tuesday night’s Region I-3A quarterfinal between Jim Ned and Childress at Bulldog Gymnasium had more back-and-forth momentum swings than a pendulum.

In a game that featured both squads trading haymakers and taking the best punch the other side could offer, it was the Bobcats who came away with a 51-46 double overtime win.

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GAME STORY: Hermleigh one win away from return trip to state

Coming off its first appearance in a University Interscholastic League state tournament under first-year coach Duane Hopper in 2017-18, the Hermleigh girls basketball team knew it was going to take everyone’s best shot this season.

The Lady Cardinals are now one win away from giving Hopper state tournament berths in each of his first two seasons as a coach after knocking off Veribest 44-39 in a Region II-1A semifinal Friday night at Abilene Christian University’s Moody Coliseum.

Hermleigh’s performance wasn’t always pretty, but it was enough to earn the Lady Cardinals a spot in Saturday’s region championship game against Rankin.

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GAME STORY: Aspermont’s season comes to disappointing end in II-1A semis

Slow starts were fairly common for the Aspermont girls basketball team throughout the 2018-19 season. But until Friday night, the Lady Hornets had displayed a knack for digging their way out of early holes.

Aspermont’s luck finally ran out, though, in a 56-45 loss to Rankin at Abilene Christian University’s Moody Coliseum.

Rankin advanced to Saturday night’s region championship game against Hermleigh, a 44-39 winner over Veribest, for the right to advance to next week’s state tournament in San Antonio.

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GAME STORY: Eula falls short against Lipan in regional quarterfinals

EASTLAND — Cruel. Unbelievable. Heartbreaking.

All three words are perfect descriptions of how the season came to an end for the Eula girls basketball team on Tuesday night at Maverick Gymnasium in a 37-34 loss to Lipan in a Region III-1A quarterfinal.

The Lady Pirates forced a turnover with 5.01 seconds to play when attempting to commit a foul, setting up a chance for Anna Masonheimer to take a game-tying 3-pointer as time expired.

Her off-balanced attempt went off the backboard and then bounced off the rim three different times before bouncing away to end Eula’s season a game shy of the regional tournament. Two of the three bounces appeared to hit the inside of the rim to add to the disappointment.

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GAME STORY: Lady Badgers season comes to an end, but future is bright

GRAHAM — While it wasn’t how coach Laura Lange or her squad envisioned it ending, the Merkel girls basketball season came to a close with a 63-47 loss to Nocona on Friday night.

The loss marked the end of Mireya Salazar’s career at Merkel, but the future is bright for the Lady Badgers as the remaining nine players return for next year — a number that includes just two juniors.

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GAME STORY: Colorado City uses explosive second quarter to eliminate Eastland

In a season that has seen the Colorado City girls basketball team struggled to score at times, the Lady Wolves had their fourth best offensive output of the year Tuesday night.

Riding a 20-point second quarter, the Lady Wolves took a 57-50 win over Eastland in a Region I-3A bi-district matchup at Hardin Simmons University’s Mabee Complex.

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GAME STORY: Lady Eagles earn playoff berth with win over Euless Trinity

WEATHERFORD — The Abilene High girls basketball team defeated Euless Trinity 50-47 on Friday at Kangaroo Gym to clinch the fourth seed out of District 3-6A for the playoffs.

The Lady Eagles (17-18) split the district games against the Lady Trojans (13-19), winning 40-38 to open district play at home before falling 57-35 on the road in January.

AHS took a 50-47 lead with under 20 seconds to play on a free throw by sophomore Trakenya Roberson. Trinity had a chance to tie the game at the end of regulation, but missed a 3-pointer with five seconds to play and never got a shot off after a timeout with four seconds left.