High school notebook: LCA pitcher bounces back strong from Tommy John surgery

Herald-Leader staff writerMay 1, 2014 

Lincoln Henzman of Lexington Christian showed off his scar from Tommy John surgery, performed a year ago.

The long scar on Lincoln Henzman's right arm is evidence of the Tommy John surgery he had exactly one year ago, May 2, 2013.

But Henzman, a senior at Lexington Christian Academy, has no emotional scars from going under the knife and not being able to throw hard for almost a year.

On LCA's trip to Florida for spring break last month, Henzman's fastball was clocked at 92 mph, just like before he blew out his elbow early in his junior season. "Luckily my velocity is back to what it was," he said. "That's really encouraging."

LCA Coach Keith Galloway has been patient in building Henzman's pitch count this spring. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-hander has worked only seven innings in five games. He's faced 31 batters, has struck out nine, walked five, given up three hits and no earned runs. His comeback stalled after he pulled a hamstring while playing in the outfield 11 days ago. He could be back in action next week.

The noted Dr. James Andrews did Henzman's surgery. He took a tendon from Henzman's leg to repair his elbow, which meant Henzman had to rehab his leg first. He was able to start throwing again — short tosses — last fall. Henzman wasn't afraid to test his elbow because he did so cautiously, with his mom, Rhonda, monitoring his progress with a radar gun.

Football offered Henzman a respite from rehab. Once a quarterback, he was limited to kicking for the Eagles, with the understanding he would avoid contact. "I wasn't going to take a risk," he said. "But, actually, in the first game, I had to make four tackles because the kickoff team was all freshmen and they let them run by them."

Once baseball workouts began in February, Henzman's comeback picked up steam. His arm and confidence steadily got stronger.

Henzman's goal is to take the mound as LCA's starter in the district tournament in a couple of weeks.

A Louisville signee, Henzman said the Cards "have been nothing but encouraging" throughout his rehab. "Their support has been everything I could ask for."

■ Wayne County junior outfielder Tanner Bell was swinging a hot bat last week. He went 13-for-21 with four doubles, two homers, 12 runs and seven RBI to help the Cardinals win four of six games. He also got a pitching victory throwing four innings.

■ Ashland Blazer softball star McKenzie Vanover is having a big senior season to cap an impressive career. Vanover is batting .508 with seven homers, 28 runs and 19 RBI. She has a career average of .414 with 36 homers (third-most in state history), 204 hits, 190 RBI and 184 runs. Vanover, touted as a Miss Softball candidate, has a 3.98 GPA and signed with Kentucky Christian.

■ The Touchstone Energy All "A" Classic state baseball tournament is at Whitaker Bank Ballpark this weekend. Saturday's first-round games: Danville vs. Bethlehem, 10 a.m.; Hancock County vs. Carroll County, noon; Hazard vs. Beechwood, 2:30 p.m.: St. Mary vs. Paintsville, 4:30. Sunday semifinals are at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m., followed by the title game at 1 p.m.

■ First-round pairings for the Rawlings/KHSAA State Baseball Tournament (June 2-7 at Whitaker Bank Ballpark): 8th Region vs. 12th, 14th vs. 1st, 4th vs. 3rd, 13th vs. 10th, 6th vs. 5th, 16th vs. 9th, 11th vs. 15th, 7th vs. 2nd.

■ First-round pairings for the Worth/KHSAA State Softball Tournament (June 5-7 at Jack Fisher Park in Owensboro): 4th Region vs. 7th, 2nd vs. 6th, 16th vs. 1st, 8th vs. 15th, 5th vs. 3rd, 14th vs. 9th, 11th vs. 12th, 13th vs. 10th.

■ Melvin Boyd Cunningham, one of the founders of the Dirt Bowl summer basketball league and a champion of youth, died Sunday. He was 75. Mr. Cunningham was best known as a mentor to the late Melvin Turpin, who played at Kentucky and in the NBA. But Mr. Cunningham helped hundreds of kids find places to play college ball and further their education. He thought that helping Leroy Byrd go to UNLV was his greatest achievement. "Getting Jerry Tarkanian to take Leroy point-blank sight-unseen was almost a miracle," he said. "Getting a top-20 basketball school like that to take a 5-foot-5 guard was something else. I couldn't do that again to save my soul."

Mr. Cunningham's funeral is Friday at Consolidated Baptist Church, with the viewing at 11 a.m. and the service at noon. Burial follows at Cove Haven.

■ Bryan Station alumnus Shelvin Mack had 20 points to lead the Atlanta Hawks past the Indiana Pacers in the NBA playoffs Monday night. Mack appears to be the first Lexington high school alumnus to play in the NBA since Frank Kornet (Lexington Catholic) with Milwaukee in from 1989 to 1991. Other Lexingtonians to make it to the NBA: Jack Givens (Bryan Station), Melvin Turpin (Bryan Station), Joe Hamilton (Dunbar), Vernon Hatton (Lafayette), Tony Jackson (Bryan Station), Dirk Minniefield (Lafayette), Jeff Mullins (Lafayette), Vince Taylor (Tates Creek) and Bobby Washington (Dunbar).

■ Butler University assistant basketball coach Chris Holtmann loved coming to Kentucky this past winter to keep tabs on Kelan Martin of Ballard and Jackson Davis of Lafayette, both of whom signed with the Bulldogs. The trips allowed Holtmann to visit his parents, John and Patty, who live in Nicholasville. "Every time I came down I either stayed with mom and dad, or went by and grabbed some of my mom's spaghetti before heading back to Indianapolis," Holtmann said. Holtmann, who was a standout guard on Jessamine County's 1990 Sweet Sixteen quarterfinal team, just finished his first season as a Butler assistant under Brandon Miller. Holtmann joined the Bulldogs after a successful stint as head coach at Gardner-Webb. He thinks Martin and Davis "both have a terrific upside." "Kelan is a guy who can score in a variety of ways at the highest level. He's an impressive talent," Holtmann said of Martin, who signed with Butler last fall. Davis signed with the Bulldogs just last week after backing out of a commitment to Rice in February. "We realized we needed an athletic forward with a versatile skill set, and Jackson fit that to a T," Holtmann said. "We think Jackson and Kelan complement each other. They're going to continue to grow and develop as they adjust to the pace and physicality of high-level, high-major basketball."

■ Keaton Belcher, who starred on Pendleton County's 2005 Sweet Sixteen team, is the Wildcats' new coach. Belcher played college basketball at Belmont. He served as a graduate assistant at Eastern Kentucky University, and was a Pendleton County assistant the past two seasons.

■ Mark Starns, who coached Fleming County to the boys' Sweet Sixteen the past two years, is leaving the Panthers for Union County. He took the Fleming County job in 2012 after he was fired by Henderson County. His wife, Lori, a nurse, stayed in Henderson. They tried to see each other as much as possible on weekends, but the 520-mile round trip between Henderson and Flemingsburg made that difficult. Now Starns will be able to live in Henderson and make the 30-mile commute to Union County High School. "This move was based solely on my family, and had nothing to do with the guys we had coming back at Fleming County," Starns said.

■ Daulton Peters, who led West Jessamine in scoring (22.2 points per game) and rebounding (8.7 rebounds per game) this season, has signed with Asbury. Peters, the 12th Region player of the year, was second on the Colts' all-time scoring list. He had 1,714 points, behind only Jarrod Polson's 1,884.

■ Elizabethtown has hired Mark Brown as its football coach. Brown, who retired from John Hardin after the 2012 season, told the Elizabethtown News-Enterprise he missed the game. Brown built Marion County and Nelson County into consistent winners. He led Nelson County to a state title in 1996. He started John Hardin's program in 2001 and built it into a state power, posting a 116-34 record. Brown has 272 career victories. "E-town has a rich tradition, and it's an appealing job," Brown told the News-Enterprise. "It was the right job at the right time at the right place."

■ Warren Central's new football coach is Howard Feggins, a former NFL defensive back who was offensive coordinator at Norfolk State last year. Feggins' son Jensen, a standout wide receiver at Highlands, might join his dad at Warren Central for his senior year.

■ Bryan Station bowler Landon Yazell, the Defenders' team captain who qualified for the state tournament this year, has signed with Campbellsville University.

■ West Jessamine senior Fred Allen Meyer, two-time individual state high school golf champ, is organizing an event to benefit Lexington's Shriners Hospital for Children. The Commonwealth Cup will feature 22 of the top boys' and girls' junior golfers in the state in a Ryder Cup format. They will play at Keene Run on May 10 and Champion Trace on May 11. Each player is required to raise $700, with a goal of generating $20,000 for Shriners Hospital.

Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Email: mfields@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.

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