Bath County baseball coach Brock Baber, a former standout relief pitcher for the University of Kentucky, knows a thing or two about trying to keep batters from reaching base. So Baber has a special appreciation for the recent accomplishment of Bath County sophomore Cable Wright.
Wright reached base in 25 consecutive at-bats, collecting 17 hits and seven walks, and getting hit by a pitch over a span of six games.
"It was one of those things in baseball, like a no-hitter, that when it's going on you don't want to bring attention to it," Baber said. "Cable's kind of superstitious, so we knew not to say anything to him. But we knew he was on a pretty impressive tear. It was an unreal streak."
Baber described Wright as "a really smart baseball player who finds a way to get on. He's just a competitor."
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Baber was a fixture on the bases and a force on the mound in leading Bath County to the 16th Region All "A" title. He went 8-for-8 and drew six walks. He was the winning pitcher in two games, with 24 strikeouts and no walks.
His on-base string was snapped this week when he struck out his first time up against Fleming County.
Wright's streak isn't a state record. Ike Bridwell of Webster County had 26 consecutive hits in 2001.
■ Rockcastle County senior John L. Saylor has been a standout hitter and pitcher this spring. He's batting .592 (29-for-49) with 11 homers, 32 RBI and 26 runs. On the mound he's 5-0 with a 4.15 ERA in 31 innings. A five-year starter, Saylor plays shortstop when not pitching.
■ Shelby County's baseball team is having a winning season, something the Rockets' football and basketball teams couldn't do after the talent pool shrank with the opening of Martha Layne Collins High School across town. Shelby County has a 9-4 record in baseball, even though it has no starters back from last year's state tournament team. Bart Roettger has only three players who dressed varsity last season. Against Anderson County last week, the Rockets used eight players who were sophomores or younger. "These kids have done a great job of not using youth and the split (of schools) as an excuse," Roettger said. "They've worked very hard to maintain the proud baseball tradition at Shelby County." The Rockets are led by freshman infielder/pitcher Kipp Moore (.471, 19 runs; 1-0, 1.80 ERA); junior infielder Eric Schreiner (.359, 12 RBI); sophomore pitcher Tyler Eades (2-0, 1.62), and junior outfielder/pitcher Kody Noonan (.391; 2-2, 3.55). "There's plenty of talent in this community for both schools to be successful," Roettger said. Collins is 7-2.
■ Sayre's 4-3 victory over Lexington Christian for the All "A" 11th Region baseball title put the Spartans one win away from the state tournament at Whitaker Bank Ballpark. Sayre hosts 9th Region champ Newport Central Catholic on Thursday. The winner advances to the All "A" state Derby weekend.
■ The draws for the state baseball and softball tournaments will be aired live on www.khsaa.tv on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. Pairings will be determined by a blind draw for the state softball tournament at Jack Fisher Park in Owensboro June 10-11, and the state baseball tournament at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington June 13-18.
■ Mason County Coach Chris O'Hearn wasn't surprised that Royals senior Jordan Gilbert made the Kentucky All-Star team after tryouts last weekend. "I knew they'd be looking for a backup point guard to (Mr. Basketball) Anthony Hickey, and Jordan is a tough, hard-nosed athletic kid. He's not very big (5-foot-10), but he's a great team player. He'll do well." Gilbert, also a standout receiver in football, wants to play college hoops. O'Hearn said several Division III schools are "licking their chops, dying to get hold" of Gilbert, but Division III doesn't give athletic scholarships "and that becomes a financial issue." Several NAIA and NCAA Division II schools are looking at Gilbert, who may have more options after his all-star appearance. Mason County's 6-8 Treg Setty also made the all-stars. Setty, who signed with Southern Illinois, averaged 21 points and 8.5 rebounds this season. O'Hearn said it was an "injustice" that Setty rated only honorable mention in the Herald-Leader's all-state coaches' voting.
■ Remy Abell, who led Eastern to the Sweet Sixteen semifinals, has reopened his recruitment. The 6-4 all-state guard signed with Bradley last fall, but Coach Jim Les was fired when the season ended. After Abell met with new Bradley coach Geno Ford on Tuesday, he announced Wednesday that he was asking for his release from Bradley and will look for a new college home. Indiana is among the schools Abell is interested in.
■ Ballard's DeVante Parker, one of the top basketball players in the state, didn't try out for the Kentucky All-Stars. Parker, who has signed to play football at Louisville, is busy running track for Ballard. "He wanted to focus on that," Bruins basketball coach Chris Renner said. Parker runs sprints and relays for Ballard.
■ Travis Purvis, who averaged 7.5 points and five rebounds for 10th Region champ Clark County this season, will play college basketball at Alice Lloyd. Purvis missed his sophomore year because of a knee injury.
■ Scott County's Alex McKenzie, who had 1,146 points and 1,093 rebounds in her career, will play college basketball at Transylvania.
■ Newport Central Catholic's 6-7 Jake Giesler, who averaged 18.5 points and 13 rebounds his senior season, committed to Jacksonsville (Fla.) University. Giesler was also a standout lineman on NewCath's state championship football team.
■ The 9th annual Gene Lowe Junior All-Star boys' basketball game is Saturday at 2 p.m. at Berea College's Seabury Center. Some of the top juniors from the 11th and 13th region will go against all-stars from the 10th and 12th regions.
■ Mitch Henderson, Princeton's new men's basketball coach, has a Kentucky connection. Henderson attended Tates Creek Middle School in the early 1990s before going off to Culver Academy in Indiana. He played college hoops at Princeton where he was a four-year starter at point guard and led the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament his last three years. They were ranked as high as No. 7 in the nation his senior season. Henderson has been an assistant at Northwestern since 2000. He replaces Sydney Johnson at Princeton, which lost to UK in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Johnson left to become coach at Fairfield.
■ Paul Laurence Dunbar kicker Matt Puracchio will play football at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. Puracchio was 7-for-10 on field goals and 20-for-21 on extra points last fall.
■ Dixie Heights quarterback Zeke Pike, who committed to national champ Auburn, told the Cincinnati Enquirer he's not worried about the NCAA investigating Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and his father. "That was something we asked about," Pike said. "They just won the national championship and they had one guy on their staff who left and that's the (defensive line) coach. If they thought there was going to be any NCAA issues they would have left. Let people say what they're going to say." Pike has been working with former University of Cincinnati and Mason County QB Dustin Grutza to improve his mechanics and footwork.
■ Franklin County basketball coach Scott Chalk fondly remembers Joe Dan Gold, who died last week. "He gave me my first head coaching job here in Kentucky when he was superintendent at Williamstown," said Chalk, who added that, to his knowledge, Gold is the only person to beat UK Coach Adolph Rupp as a player and as a coach. Gold played and later coached at Mississippi State.
■ Ruby Bird, who was active in the Women's State Golf Association for more than half her life, died a few weeks ago. She was 85. Besides playing in amateur tournaments for more than 45 years, Mrs. Bird also held just about every office in the WSGA. The organization's lifetime achievement award is named in her honor. Mrs. Bird's daughter, Marsha Bordas, has been one of the state' top amateur golfers for decades. Grandson Jay Bordas is boys' basketball coach at Bourbon County.
■ A few snickers could be heard when the KHSAA announced that bass fishing could become a sanctioned sport. But consider this: the top prize in the Murray State High School Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake a couple weeks ago was a $10,000 college scholarship. Seventy-three teams from nine states took part. The event also doubled as the Kentucky state high school tournament, which was won by Donovan Jones and Stephen Compton of Meade County High School. They finished fifth overall.