Covington Catholic baseball coach Bill Krumpelbeck says that Luke Maile, his star catcher, isn't getting a lot of chances to show his stuff at the plate this season. "Up in Northern Kentucky, nobody's pitching to him. Even when we went to Louisville and Ashland, he didn't get much to hit." Krumpelbeck doesn't like it, but he understands it.
Maile, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound senior, is paying the price for being perhaps the best everyday player in the state and is probably the leading candidate for Mr. Baseball this year. As a sophomore he hit .486. As a junior he hit .554. This spring, despite getting pitched around, he's batting .529. Over the last three years, he's hitting .522 (160-for-306). Throw in 101 walks, he's been to the plate more than 400 times and has struck out only 11 times.
Maile holds school records for hits, runs, RBI, doubles, triples, walks, batting average and on-base percentage.
Maile, who has developed into a terrific defensive catcher, signed with the University of Kentucky last fall. Why did he pick the Cats? "Most notably, it was the coaching staff," he said. "They're tremendous people. It's a program on the upswing, and it plays in a difficult conference. That's the place I'll have the most fun, and it'll prepare me the best for the next level."
Maile and senior pitcher Zach Isler give CovCath one of the strongest batteries in the state. Isler, who had Tommy John surgery after blowing out his elbow his freshman season, is 9-0 with a 1.37 ERA this year. He has signed with the University of Cincinnati.
CovCath (27-3) has won at least 20 games in 23 consecutive seasons under Krumpelbeck, including 40 victories in its state championship season in 2002.
■ Greenup County, hoping to make it to the state tournament at Applebee's Park for the third year in a row, is on a roll. The Musketeers are on an 18-game winning streak as they host Lexington Catholic in their regular-season finale Friday. Has Greenup County, whose last defeat was more than a month ago, forgotten how to lose?
"I hope so. That'd be nice," Coach Greg Logan said. The Musketeers have had solid pitching during their streak, including seven shutouts and four one-run games. Ethan Hardin (7-0), Dakota Greenslate (4-2) and Kyle Martin (5-2) have been the most reliable arms. Greenup County is hitting .350 as a team. Senior catcher Billy Logan, who has signed with James Madison, is hitting .435 with 42 RBI. Shortstop and leadoff man Eric Craft (.430, 27 stolen bases), second baseman Tyler Peveto (.420) and Greenslate (.400) have also been consistent at the plate. The Musketeers (26-7) showed their grit last week when they rallied for seven runs in the seventh to beat Boyd County 8-5.
■ Henry Clay's Grant Klinksiek threw a seven-inning no-hitter in an 8-0 win over Paul Dunbar this week. It was the senior right-hander's first start of the season after pitching nine innings in six relief appearances. Against Dunbar, he had eight strikeouts, four walks (three in the first inning) and retired the last 11 batters he faced. Klinksiek is also an outfielder and designated hitter.
■ Lexington teams get to stay close to home in the baseball playoffs this year. The districts are at Bryan Station and Lafayette. The 11th Region is set for Applebee's Park starting on Memorial Day. The semi-state will be at Henry Clay, and the Forcht Bank/KHSAA State Tournament will be at Applebee's Park on June 11-13. A Lexington school has won five of the last 10 titles, and going into this post-season Lexington Christian is rated No. 1 in the state and Tates Creek is No. 2.
■ Lexington is a hotbed of baseball, but Sayre usually isn't included when state title contenders are discussed. In the grand ol' game of comparing scores, however, a case can be made that the Spartans have a shot.
Follow the curveball logic:
Sayre beat Burgin, which beat Woodford County, which beat Bell County, which beat Corbin, which beat Campbellsville, which beat Breckinridge County, which beat McLean County, which beat Webster County, which beat University Heights, which beat Owensboro Catholic, which beat Apollo, which was rated No. 1 most of the season. That means Sayre could also beat Apollo, right? And that should qualify Coach Scott Sutton's Spartans as a title contender? "Sounds good to me," Sutton said in good humor. "Maybe they will cut to the chase and let us play Apollo at Applebee's for all the marbles."
■ Five schools have their baseball and softball teams both in the state's top 25. Western Hills has the highest rated duo. Its softball team is No. 11, and its baseball team is No. 14. Franklin County, Male, Manual and Owensboro Catholic are also in the top 25 in both sports.
■ High school baseball's mercy rule, which ends a game after five innings if there's a 10-run margin, isn't always merciful enough. Anderson County blasted Bell County 35-2 last week. The Bearcats got six runs in the first, one in the second, 12 in the third, eight in the fourth and eight more in the fifth. They had 19 hits and 11 walks, and nine of their batters were hit by pitches. Hunter Coffey had four hits, including a grand slam, and eight RBI.
On the subject of mercy rules, most states, including Kentucky, have them in football now. Alaska and Kansas also have them in basketball. If there's a 40-point margin after the third quarter, the clock doesn't stop unless the lead shrinks to less than 30. Sounds like a good idea.
■ Lexington Catholic's football/soccer/softball/baseball facility will get new artificial turf before the 2010-11 school year, according to athletic director Dave Bunnell. The baseball field is also supposed to get lights and a new concession area that includes bathrooms. The softball field, which is tucked in a corner of the football field, will get some sort of dugouts. Lexington Catholic was the first school in town to get an artificial turf football field. It played its first game on it in August 1999.
■ Heath won the Touchstone Energy All "A" Classic softball title last weekend, led by MVP Kelleigh Jones. After dropping their first game, the Lady Pirates stormed out of the losers' bracket with seven victories to win the tournament. Jones pitched in all eight games, including five on Sunday. She had 87 strikeouts in 53 innings and gave up four runs. Heath beat Hancock County in the finals.
■ Corbin's Josh Crawford, who had 33 points in a first-round Sweet Sixteen loss to Eastern, signed to play college hoops at Centre. The Colonels also signed Bryon Ellis of Russell County and Mitch Shover of Covington Catholic. Ellis had 250 career three-pointers.
■ Moore's Eric Mosley, a 6-0 guard who averaged 26 points this season, signed with Austin Peay.
■ Pikeville's Matt Clevenger, who had 1,722 career points, will play basketball at Transylvania.
■ JaMel Riley and Brandon Housley, key players on Holmes' state championship team, signed with Cincinnati State, a junior college where former Bulldogs star Arrez Henderson will be a sophomore next season.
■ Tickets ($20, $15) are on sale for the Kentucky-Indiana all-star basketball games June 14 at Bellarmine University in Louisville. Call 1-800-232-5308, or go to www.kyallstars.net. The girls' game is at 3 p.m. The boys' game follows at 5.
■ The Kentucky AAU boys' state basketball championships are this weekend at Kentucky Basketball Academy. For a schedule, go to www.playkba.com.
■ Tates Creek receiver/defensive back Darian Carter will play football at Georgetown College.
■ Calloway County running back Tyrrell Willis, a 6-2, 255-pound junior who has run the 40 in 4.7 seconds, got a scholarship offer from Louisville last week. He told the Murray Ledger the Cardinals see him as a Michael Bush-type back. Willis also has an offer from Memphis. Showing interest are Alabama, UK, Purdue and Tennessee.
■ Will Stratford of West Jessamine, who has signed to run track at Davidson, ran a state-leading and school-record 4:18 in the 1,600 meters, and a school-record 1:57 in the 800 on Monday in the Central Kentucky Conference meet at Boyle County.
■ Lance Freeman, who quarterbacked Corbin to the Class 2A football semifinals and a 13-1 record, will play tennis at Western Kentucky. He won his fourth region tennis title in a row this week.
■ Five LCA soccer players have signed to play in college — Kelsey Ach and Liz Yoder with Georgetown; Josh Braun, Dylan Fouts and John Nichols with Asbury. LCA's Courtney LeMay will swim at Asbury.
■ Jordan Cash, who played golf at Rockcastle County starting as a sixth-grader and won the region title as a seventh-grader, signed with Eastern Kentucky.