Sports briefs: Feb. 17

February 17, 2014 

UK Sports

Softball team continues perfect start by winning Texas Classic

Freshman pitcher Meagan Prince threw three scoreless innings in relief to earn her second win of the season, and senior Lauren Cumbess hit a three-run homer as Kentucky's softball team defeated No. 15 Texas 6-5 on Sunday in the Texas Classic championship at Austin, Texas. Kentucky, ranked seventh in the coaches' pool, improved to 10-0, extending its program-best start to a season.

Cumbess, who was the Cats' starting pitcher, allowed five runs on seven hits with four strikeouts in four innings.

The win moved Prince's record to 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA, and she has struck out 12 batters in 13 innings pitched. Cumbess, who threw a no-hitter to start the weekend against Louisiana Tech, got a no decision and is 2-0 on the year with a 2.81 ERA.

9th-inning errors lead to Bat Cats' 1st loss

After rallying from a one-run deficit to take a 9-8 lead in the top of the ninth inning, Kentucky's baseball team (2-1) committed two errors in the bottom of the inning to set up a two-run walk-off single from VMI's Cameron Walter in a 10-9 loss in the finale of the Hughes Brothers Invitational in Wilmington, N.C.

Major league Baseball

Kentuckian taking in first spring training

Hunter Green, an 18-year-old starting pitcher who was drafted out of Warren East High School in the second round of the First-Year Player Draft last June, is by far the Los Angeles Angels' youngest player in camp for spring training.

"Before I got here, I was worried and scared about how it was going to be," Green told MLB.com. "And once I got here, I fit right in, and so far it's been going really good."

When the Angels plucked drafted Green, the 6-foot-4 pitcher weighed only 159 pounds. Now, he's up to 180. And eventually, he'd like to get to 200 pounds.

MLB.com reported that Green can throw his fastball in the mid-90s, but hit a wall late in the season in rookie ball and struggled to hit 90 mph.

"I'm still trying to figure out the feel for all my pitches," said Green, ranked 11th in the Angels' system by MLB.com in 2013. "I'm still trying to learn command for all my pitches, because that's one thing I've really struggled on the whole time I've been pitching, especially last year. I've had a lot of walks."

Blanton ready to rebound from off year

Joe Blanton, the 33-year-old Los Angeles Angels' right-hander who struggled all of last season, dropped about eight pounds during the off-season, and hopes to get back on track this season.

"Last year was by far the worst season I've ever had," said Blanton, who starred in high school at Franklin-Simpson and in college at Kentucky. "I'm not scared to say that. That's 100 percent. No season has even come close to that. I don't want to repeat it."

Blanton unraveled in the first year of a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels, going 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP in 1322⁄3 innings. By July 23, he had given up a Major League-leading 24 homers and 157 hits, and had lost his rotation spot to an up-and-coming Garrett Richards.

"Where your pitching staff ends up from Day 1 of Spring Training to Day 1 of the opening season sometimes seems like a lifetime," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia told MLB.com. "Joe needs to put his best foot forward; Joe needs to make some adjustments. He had just a terrible season last year, but he's shown in the last couple years that when he is throwing the ball to his capabilities, there's no doubt he can get major-league hitters out."

Blanton thinks he'll be much improved this season, but it's uncertain if the team will have room for him on the roster.

"That's one of those that's not in my power," Blanton told MLB.com. "You go out and throw, and let it be."

Golf

Watson gets first win since 2012 Masters

Two weeks after Bubba Watson made a pair of late bogeys in the Phoenix Open, he delivered the best closing round at Riviera in some three decades. Watson played the final 39 holes without a bogey and shot a 7-under 64 on Sunday to win the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles. It was his first victory in 22 months and 41 tournaments worldwide dating to the 2012 Masters. Watson wound up with a two-shot victory over Dustin Johnson.

Jason Allred, who went to college up the coast at Pepperdine, played bogey-free for a 68 and tied for third with Brian Harman. Allred was a Monday qualifier, and this was his first regular PGA Tour event since he last had his card in 2008.

The tie for third was a career-best for the 33-year-old Allred. He earned $388,600, which is more than he had made in his entire career, which included two full seasons on the PGA Tour. He now is exempt into the Honda Classic, which starts in two weeks — about the time his wife is due with their third child.

"We'll have fun figuring out what that looks like," Allred said.

Thomas fifth in first Web.com event as pro

Alex Cejka won the Web.com Tour's season-opening Colombia Championship on Sunday, breaking the course record with an 8-under 63 in the completion of the third round before rain washed out play in Bogota, Columbia.

St. Xavier graduate Justin Thomas, playing in his first Web.com Tour event as a professional, shot a 71 and finished tied for fifth at six shots off the pace. A pair of former University of Louisville standouts, Adam Hadwin and Derek Fathauer, were another shot back in a tie for eighth.

Kirk Triplett won the ACE Group Classic for his third Champions Tour title, holing a 6-foot par putt on the final hole for a one-stroke victory at Naples, Fla. Defending champion Bernhard Langer, Duffy Waldorf and Olin Browne tied for second.

Karrie Webb won the Women's Australian Open for the fifth time, shooting a 4-under 68 in the final round to beat Chella Choi by one stroke in Melbourne. Webb birdied the 18th hole to take the outright lead, then watched as Choi pushed a 10-foot putt wide of the hole at 18 to miss the chance for a playoff.

Horse racing

Kobe's Back prevails in San Vicente Stakes

Kobe's Back rebounded to win the $200,000 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita by 5¼ lengths. After nearly falling and finishing 10th in his last start in the CashCall Futurity on Dec. 14 at Hollywood Park, Kobe's Back ran 7 furlongs in 1:21.84 in the prep race for the Santa Anita Derby.

High school basketball

North Hardin boys knock off Marion County

Kevon Davis went 19-for-19 from the free-throw line, a school record, and finished with 27 points in North Hardin's 72-58 victory at Marion County. The Knights (19-7) struggled as a team from the free-throw line in the loss, going 18-for-41. The Trojans' win over a team six spots higher in Dave Cantrall's 5th Region rankings, improved their record to 7-19.

The last word

American Andrew Weibrecht, a surprise silver medalist in the men's Super G at the Winter Olympics, said the average sports fan doesn't appreciate how difficult it is to win ski races:

"It's not tennis or something like that. The best racers win two races in a year. Not like Roger Federer — when he was Roger Federer — who won 120 matches and lost one match. That's the essence of ski racing. You've got to really learn how to manage disappointment pretty well a lot of the time. But every once in a while, something really positive happens, and it keeps you going."

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