The older we get the more we tend to embellish the glory days of our sporting youth. But when Madison Central's 1982 state championship baseball team was honored in Richmond last Friday, there was no need for the players to exaggerate their accomplishments. It's impossible to improve on a 40-0 record and No. 1 national ranking.
Kentucky hasn't had an unbeaten baseball champ since Don Richardson coached Madison Central to those remarkable heights 30 years ago. The Indians weren't just undefeated; they were largely untested. They won 40 games by an average score of 11-2. They shut out 13 opponents. They had a team batting average of .375 and an earned run average of 1.50. In the region, semi-state and state tournaments, they annihilated seven opponents by a combined score of 80-7. They routed Henderson County 13-2 in the semifinals, and Pleasure Ridge Park 9-0 in the finals.
Ricky Congleton was the ace of that Madison Central staff. He went 10-0 and won the title game on his 18th birthday. Now a couple years shy of turning 50, Congleton reflected on just how good those Indians were.
"We knew we had a special group, a close group," he said. "We took it day to day. We had nine good sticks in the lineup, so I never worried when I pitched. I knew those guys would hit, and I had Greg (Stephens) back there catching."
Stephens and Keith Kidd led the offense. Congleton and Jeff Cruse anchored the pitching staff.
Congleton went on to play at EKU and won three OVC championship rings. "Those mean a lot to me, but I didn't have the kind of relationships I had with the boys I had in high school. There are seven or eight of us who still keep in close contact."
Congleton still keeps up with high school baseball. He thinks it would be harder for a team to go undefeated these days. "There are too many good players spread out everywhere," he said. "Everybody's pretty equal."
■ Four years after pitching in his last major-league game, Matt Ginter is back in the dugout as Clark County's first-year baseball coach. Ginter said it "seems like many moons ago" that he starred for Clark County (Class of 1996). But he's found "the same kind of camaraderie" as a coach as he did when he played for Clark County, Mississippi State and four big-league teams. Clark County lost its first seven games this season, but it has turned things around and won 10 of its last 11. "Our first few games were against Lexington teams and they exposed our weaknesses pretty quick," Ginter said. "We moved a lot of kids around, messed with the batting order a bunch, to see who could do what." The Cards graduated most of the starters off last year's region title team, but veterans Logan McQuerry, Pokey Harris, Derek McKenzie and Brent Stone-king have stepped up to lead the retooled lineup. "Pitching keeps us in most games," Ginter said. "Our hitting is coming along. Through our first five or six games, we were hitting .140. Now we're back around .300."
■ Covington Catholic scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to beat Scott 3-2 to improve its record to 20-1 — the Colonels' 26th consecutive 20-win season under Bill Krumpelbeck. "We have 13 seniors who have bought into the system, what this program represents, and they play hard every game," Krumpelbeck told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
■ Clark County grads Jeremy Greene and Lance Rose are senior left-handers at Lindsey Wilson, and helped the team post a 22-game winning streak, the longest in the NAIA this season. Greene is 4-2 with a 3.63 ERA. Rose is 4-0 with a 2.89 ERA. Adair County alum Derek Cape, a junior, is 8-1 with a 3.23 ERA. The Blue Raiders (38-12), No. 11 nationally, won the Mid-South Conference regular-season title. The conference tournament is going on this week at Campbellsville.
■ Tony Gray, who had been serving as Danville's interim police chief, got the job on a permanent basis this week. Gray is familiar to high school basketball fans as one of the state's top referees. Gray has officiated five Sweet Sixteen title games in Rupp Arena since 2000.
■ Mr. and Miss Basketball will be announced Saturday night at a banquet at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville. The roster for the Kentucky All-Stars girls' team will be released on Sunday, and the boys' roster on Monday. The Kentucky All-Stars play Indiana on June 8 in Freedom Hall in Louisville, and June 9 in Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
■ Raceland's new girls' basketball coach — Randy Vanderhoof — is familiar to Rams' fans. According to the Ashland Daily Independent, Vanderhoof has been Raceland's baseball coach for 26 years, and was the Rams' football coach for 13 years before giving up that job after the 2010 season. This will be his second stint as girls' basketball coach. He led the program from 1985 to 1997.
■ Paul Handley has been fired as boys' basketball coach at Western. He had a 12-year record of 126-183.
■ Condolences to the family of Kenny Roark, the former Middlesboro and UK football star, who died last week. One of Roark's happiest moments came when he coached Middlesboro to the Class A title in 1998. His son Chase, then 5 years old, was on the sideline with him when the Yellowjackets beat Mayfield in the finals. "This is probably the biggest thing that's ever happened to Middlesboro," Roark said 14 years ago. Chase is now a standout senior athlete at Middlesboro.
■ Brent Thompson is North Hardin's new football coach. He was a Trojans assistant under Crad Jaggers last season. Previously, he was an assistant for 11 years to Brett Burnett at Elizabethtown and Pelham, Ala.
■ Seven Henry Clay seniors signed to continue their athletic careers in college. Four are headed to Centre: Evander Harris and Charles McCarty in football; Emily Rodes and Rachel Geil in soccer. Preston French will play golf at Murray State, Claire Mielcarek will play soccer at Transylvania, and Shandra Williams will play softball at IU-Southeast.
■ The Dawahares/KHSAA Hall of Fame will celebrate its 25th anniversary with the induction of the 2012 class at a banquet Saturday at the Lexington Convention Center. A social hour and silent auction begin at 5:30 p.m. More than 400 people are in the Hall of Fame. This year's inductees: Libby Burr, the late Tim Cahill, Randy Embry, Maxine Graham, Joe Hood, Kim LaBelle, Jim McDaniels, Marvin Moore, Jim Perrin, Alvin Ratliff, James Tucker and Randy Wyatt. All Hall of Famers are invited back to this year's ceremony. For tickets, call Butch Cope or Marsha Day of the KHSAA at (859) 299-5472. Single tickets are $50. A table of 10 is $500.
■ Kevin Wallace, who guided Bowling Green to an undefeated Class 5A football title last fall, received the Garnis Martin Outstanding Coach Award from the Kentucky High School Athletic Directors Association at its awards banquet on Thursday in Louisville. James Michael Brown of Bell County was the Paul M. Young Male Academic-Athlete of the Year. Lindsey Isner of Pikeville was the Bunny Daughtery Female Academic-Athlete of the Year. Receiving the Dr. Rudy Ellis Distinguished Service Award were Troy Cole of Betsy Layne, Alice Creque of Collins, Alan Gibson of Clinton County, and Bev Furnish of Villa Madonna.
■ Kentucky National Guard's All-Resilient Team, the brainchild of Tom Leach, honored 14 athletes who overcame adversity to play sports last year: Rebekah Boone of Powell County, Kevin Carrico of Simon Kenton, Dalton Chappell of Bullitt East, C.J. Dotson of Phelps, Adam Elkins of Raceland, Rob Hill of Campbell County, Shavon Majors of Burgin, Corey Mivelaz of The Academy, Mohamed Musa of St. Francis, Kasi Watson of Johnson Central, Jacob Raleigh of Letcher Central, Carly Jo Ryan of Louisville Holy Cross, Brittany Wilson of Silver Grove, and Dominic Vancleve of Clark County. Their individual stories can be found at tomleachky.com.
■ Paris 6-foot-6 senior Aaron Jacobs, who averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds this past season, signed to play college basketball at Roane State in Harriman, Tenn.
■ Patrick Keller, a 6-7 senior who averaged 7.3 points and 4.9 rebounds for Lexington Catholic, will play college hoops at Denison, a Division III school in Granville, Ohio.
■ Rockcastle County lineman Ben Lake signed to play football at Washington University in St. Louis. He started all 47 games of his high school career. Lake is a standout in the classroom, too. He ranks No. 1 academically in his senior class at Rockcastle County.
■ Henry Clay and Lexington Catholic are among five schools in the Kentucky State Youth Tournament for Ultimate Frisbee on Sunday. It will be at the Good Barn fields next to Commonwealth Stadium from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Also competing will be Covington Catholic, Mercer County and Paris. CovCath beat Lexington Catholic in last year's finals.