A few last scribbles in the high school notebook before closing it up for summer vacation ...
■ Rain has fouled up Friday's semifinals in the state baseball tournament the last two years, prompting people to wonder if it'll be possible to get in more than twice as many games when the format expands from eight to 16 teams next year at Applebee's Park. Alan Stein, president and CEO of the Lexington Legends, has no doubt that everything will be fine. "In fact, I think it'll be easier because we're adding three days, which gives us more time to get in rainouts," he said. A baseball advisory committee and the KHSAA have decided on next year's schedule: four first-round games on Monday, and four more on Tuesday. Monday's winners will play their quarterfinals Wednesday night. Tuesday's winners will play their quarterfinals Thursday night. The semifinals will be Friday night and the finals Saturday night. Julian Tackett of the KHSAA said the pitching rules will be tweaked so no team has an advantage. If there's bad weather, rained out games could be made up in the daytime on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Stein is enthusiastic about baseball getting its own "Sweet 16" at Applebee's. "I think it's fantastic. It's something I've been advocating for eight years. It's great for the city of Lexington, but most of all it's great for high school baseball in Kentucky, extending the experience of playing in the state tournament to twice as many kids." Pairings for the 16-team tournament will be determined by a blind draw, just like in basketball.
■ Lexington teams won six of 15 state baseball titles from 1978 to 1992, with Tates Creek and Lafayette capturing three apiece. Lexington teams are on an even hotter streak now, having won six of the last 11 titles, with Lexington Catholic taking three, Paul Dunbar two and Lexington Christian one.
■ Lexington Catholic's run to its third state baseball title included a loss to LCA in the 43rd District finals. Kevin Clary's Knights are the first district runner-up to win the championship since Pleasure Ridge Park in 1994.
Never miss a local story.
■ While some players wilted under the bright lights at Applebee's Park, Frank Carter blossomed into Mr. MVP for Lexington Catholic. In six games (in the region and state tournaments) at Applebee's, Carter had eight hits, drove in nine runs and scored five times. He also starred on the mound, getting a save and a win. In the Knights' 9-8 escape of Bryan Station in the region finals, Carter had a three-run double, and got the save by striking out the last two batters with the tying run at third base. In Lexington Catholic's 2-0 win over Marshall County in the first round of the state tournament, Carter's two-run homer was the big blow. And in the Knights' come-from-behind 5-3 win over Owensboro in the state finals, Carter's two-run single put them ahead to stay. He also pitched a complete-game five-hitter.
■ After finishing the regular season 6-14, Owensboro made an amazing run through the playoffs that carried it to the state finals and gave it a shot at a sixth state title. "Whether or not we won the title, this team will be remembered for starting back up the tradition of Owensboro High School baseball," first-year coach Kip Walters said. "It's been a long time (20 years) since we've been here. Owensboro has kind of turned into a basketball and football school. To have the baseball team make a run like this is going to do a lot for our program."
■ In seven state tournament games, pitchers struck out 80 batters, walked 44 and hit eight. That's pretty good control in pressure situations.
■ On June 14, 2008, Zack Cox starred as PRP beat Apollo in the semifinals and Lawrence County in the finals of the state baseball tournament at Applebee's Park. On June 14, 2009, Cox started at third base for Arkansas and hit a home run as the Razorbacks upset second-seeded Cal State-Fullerton in the opening game of the College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb. Kentucky's Mr. Baseball last year, Cox is hitting .268 as a freshman at Arkansas.
■ Two former Boyle County pitchers were taken in the baseball draft last week. The Diamondbacks took Patrick Cooper, a right-hander at Des Moines Area Community College, in the 34th round. The Blue Jays took Evan Teague, a left-hander at Western Kentucky, in the 35th round.
■ Amber Riddle of Rowan County, Miss Softball, hit a three-run homer to help the East senior all-stars beat the West seniors 13-3. The East seniors also beat the West and East juniors.
■ North Laurel junior pitcher Megan Taylor, who had a 29-9 record this season, is Gatorade's softball player of the year in Kentucky. She also has a 3.42 GPA.
■ The Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association's East-West all-star games are at UK's Cliff Hagan Stadium this weekend. The juniors play at 2 and 5 p.m. on Saturday. The seniors play at 1 and 4 p.m. on Sunday.
■ Interest in the Kentucky-Indiana all-star basketball series has reached a new low, at least among fans. Back-to-back games in Indianapolis and Louisville last weekend drew a total of 7,000 fans to Conseco Fieldhouse and Bellarmine University's Knights Hall. A couple decades ago total attendance exceeded 25,000. What can be done to revitalize the series? Nothing, to be brutally honest. The shiny allure of this all-star event has faded, and it's nobody's fault. For a long time the best selling point of the Kentucky-Indiana all-star showdown was that it was serious hoops. Fundamental, not flashy. Team basketball, not individual showmanship. But these days, most fans prefer their all-star games to be sexy, not serious. It used to be that a big-name UK or Indiana recruit would draw a big crowd to this all-star game. That's no longer true because big-name recruits now get so much exposure in other outlets and venues that they're not the curiosity piece they once were. Promoters of the Kentucky-Indiana series can dress up the format however they want — have LeBron James toss the opening tip, or handicap the dominant Hoosiers by making them play with one hand tied behind their back. But nothing is going to turn back the clock and return us to the good ol' days of this once riveting rivalry.
■ Football season kicks off in two months. The city teams' openers: Bryan Station hosts Clark County (Aug. 21); Henry Clay plays two-time defending 3A state champ Louisville Central in the Fayette Bowl at Tates Creek (Aug. 28); Lafayette visits Tates Creek (Aug. 21); Lexington Catholic hosts Whitley County (Aug. 21); LCA visits Christ Presbyterian in Nashville, Tenn. (Aug. 28), and Paul Dunbar plays Bullitt East in the Joe Jaggers Bowl at North Hardin (Aug. 22).
■ When the pre-season football polls come out in August, don't be surprised if all six defending champs are No. 1 in their respective classes: Trinity in 6A, Highlands in 5A, Bell County in 4A, Louisville Central in 3A, Fort Campbell in 2A and Beechwood in 1A.
■ LCA senior-to-be Lucas Witt, who'll be one of the top QBs in the state this fall, hurt his hamstring playing baseball for No. 1-rated LCA, So instead of making the rounds of summer football camps, Witt is taking time off to let his injury heal.
■ Fifteen football players you'll hear a lot about this fall: Perry Central QB Jordan Amis; Fort Campbell QB Antonio Andrews; Highlands WR/RB Austin Collinsworth; Breathitt County RB Channing Fugate; LCA RB Domonique Hayden; Pulaski County QB Chris Muse; Ryle TE Tate Nichols; Louisville Central LB Tim Patterson; Anderson County QB Jacob Russell; Lafayette WR/RB/DB Eric Shaw; Simon Kenton RB Miles Simpson; McCreary Central QB/RB/WR Aaron Watts; Frankfort RB Quan Weaver; Calloway County RB Tyrell Willis, and LCA QB Lucas Witt.
■ The Recreation Bowl, the oldest high school football bowl game in Kentucky, is being scaled back for the next couple of years. Instead of a traditional doubleheader, the 62nd Rec Bowl will have one game — Montgomery County hosting Harrison County — on Aug. 22. The same teams will be matched again in the 2010 edition. In the meantime, bowl officials are looking for corporate sponsorship in hopes of a bigger, better event in 2011.
■ Defending 4th Region champ Bowling Green is getting a high-profile basketball transfer. Chane Behanan, a 6-7, 230-pound junior rated in the top 25 nationally in the class of 2011, has moved with his family from Cincinnati to Bowling Green. Behanan has committed to the University of Cincinnati. He averaged more than 20 points each of the last two seasons for Cincinnati Aiken.
■ Tony Wise is Frankfort's new boys' basketball coach. A four-sport star at Scott County in the late 1980s, Wise was a high school head coach in Florida for eight years — two at Alachua Santa Fe and six at Gainesville High, and led both schools to final four appearances. Frankfort is a much smaller school, and has struggled in hoops recently. "I'm excited about the challenge," Wise said of revitalizing a program that has had four consecutive losing seasons.
■ Rose Hill distance runner Johnny Bush, who competed in the state cross country meet seven times and the state track meet three times, is headed for Transylvania.