Lawrence County baseball coach Travis Feltner doubts that any of his players have heard of Orel Hershiser. But Feltner and his assistants have been talking about the former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher lately, specifically the major-league record Hershiser set when he posted 59 consecutive scoreless innings in the summer of 1988.
The topic is relevant because Lawrence County sophomore ace Chandler Shepherd has set a Kentucky high school record by pitching 46 scoreless innings in a row. Shepherd's streak began in May 2008. It continued through the state tournament a month later when the lanky right-hander threw a four-hit shutout against Greenup County.
Going into this season, Chandler was seven innings shy of breaking the state record of 37 consecutive goose eggs, set by Tyler Hieneman of Greenup County last year. Chandler shattered it with shutouts of Fleming County and Greenup County in his first two starts this spring. But the streak came to an end in a 3-1 loss to Paintsville on Thursday.
"It's really unbelievable what he's done," Feltner said. "You've got to have a pretty good team that's able to make plays behind you. But for him to be so young and pitch like he does, it's amazing."
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Shepherd was a long way from the national high school record of 80 consecutive scoreless innings set by Joey Porter of South Natchez-Adams (Miss.), in 1973.
Shepherd, who has been pitching for Lawrence County since he was a seventh-grader, has a career record of 24-9, including a 10-1 mark last season when he helped the Bulldogs to a state runner-up finish to Pleasure Ridge Park.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder has a good fastball (it topped out at 91 mph last year), a knuckle-curve ("I haven't seen a better high school breaking ball," Feltner said), and a change-up.
Shepherd is a terrific athlete. When he's not on the mound, he plays second or short, and he's hitting .425. He also quarterbacks Lawrence County's football team.
■ Clark County fast-pitch softball coach Jackie McCloud got his 400th victory last week. He's only the fourth coach to reach that plateau since the KHSAA started sanctioning the sport in 1995, joining Tony Burkeen (Reidland and Christian County), George Randolph (Owensboro Catholic) and Penny Reece (Greenwood) in the 400 club.
A modest McCloud shrugged off any personal glory. "It's not about me," he said. "It's about the kids, the student-athletes. I've had good players who've won all the games."
McCloud was an assistant baseball coach at Clark County before switching sports in '95. "I always had a passion for fast-pitch, and thought it'd be fun to get the program up and running," he said.
McCloud has taken eight teams to the state tournament. Clark County is rated 12th in the state this season, and began the week with an 11-1 record. The Lady Cards have two aces in Amy Haggard and Morgan Woosley, who take turns pitching and playing shortstop. Woosley is also McCloud's granddaughter.
McCloud hopes to keep coaching and get the program to 500 victories. "I'm proud to be a part of what we've done here," he said, "and I'd like to keep at it."
■ Hopkinsville junior outfielder/pitcher Justin Hageman is off to a strong start. He has seven home runs in the Tigers' first 12 games after hitting five all last season. He's drawing attention with his performance on the mound, too. Last year he had 108 strikeouts in 66 innings with a 0.64 ERA. This spring he has 35 K's in 22 innings with a 0.32 ERA.
■ Danville junior left-hander Duran Elmore threw a no-hitter in a 2-0 win over cross-town rival Boyle County. Elmore had 11 strikeouts and two walks.
■ Lexington Catholic beat No. 1 Apollo 5-2 in nine innings last weekend. Freshman Tyler Jackson's two-run single in the ninth was the game-winner. Taylor Botkin picked up the win with two innings of relief. Patrick Maronde started and went five innings. Frank Carter followed before giving way to Botkin in the eighth.
■ Nick Maronde, a star pitcher at Lexington Catholic last year, is 1-1 with a 4.30 ERA in seven starts for the University of Florida this spring. He's been pitching on weekends against Southeastern Conference competition.
■ Pleasure Ridge Park alum Zack Cox, last year's Mr. Baseball, is hitting .244 as a freshman third baseman at Arkansas. As a relief pitcher, he's 4-1 with a 4.09 ERA. Zach Osborne, another PRP product, is a freshman shortstop at Tennessee. He's batting .298, boosted by a team-best .383 in SEC play.
■ Lexington Catholic basketball star Vee Sanford is making an official visit to Georgetown University this weekend. While he's in the Washington, D.C., area, he might make an unofficial stop at George Mason. That's the word from Vince Sanford, Vee's father, who said his son is planning an official visit to Baylor next week. Georgia might also be on his visit list. He's still figuring out whether to make an official visit to Iowa, Central Florida, Charlotte or South Florida.
Vee's leading candidates?
"He really likes Georgetown and Baylor," Vince said.
■ Walt Allen, who led South Laurel to the 2005 Sweet Sixteen title and was Mr. Basketball in 2006, is returning to his home state. Allen is transferring from Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C., to Asbury College, where he will have two years of eligibility and will rejoin former South Laurel teammate Jordan Hammonds. Asbury has also signed Justin Jones of Hazard and Miles Kingsley of Danville.
■ Jordan Hulls, who led Bloomington South to an undefeated 4A state title, is Indiana's Mr. Basketball. The 6-foot senior and Indiana University recruit averaged 16 points and five assists this season. Indiana's Miss Basketball is Skylar Diggins, a 5-10 guard who averaged 29 points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals for 4A state runner-up South Bend Washington. Diggins has signed with Notre Dame.
■ Tryouts for the boys' and girls' Kentucky All-Stars basketball teams are Friday and Saturday at Campbellsville University, but roster selections won't be announced until next week. Jon Hood of Madisonville and Adia Mathies of Iroquois, Mr. and Miss Basketball, are guaranteed spots. The games against Indiana will be June 13 in Indianapolis in Conseco Fieldhouse and June 14 in Louisville at Bellarmine.
■ New UK basketball coach John Calipari got a letter in the mail this week from the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches. "It's to welcome him to the state and let him know who we are," said Ken Trivette of the KABC. "It's also an open invitation to him and his staff to our conference every year. And if we have any events where he could help us, we'd love to have him."
When Tubby Smith was UK's coach, he set the bar high with his relationship with the KABC and high school coaches. "With Tubby, it was awesome. It couldn't have been better," Trivette said. Billy Gillispie, on the other hand, didn't have much to do with the KABC, or high school coaches in general, in his two years at UK.
■ Green County's Clint Henderson (21 ppg) signed with Lindsey Wilson.
■ Breathitt County basketball star Kendall Noble was mistakenly listed as a sophomore on the Herald-Leader's All-State second team. She's a freshman.
■ Mariya Kobayashi of Paul Dunbar signed to play softball at Bellarmine. Kobayashi was also on Dunbar's regional championship volleyball team last fall.
■ Max Fuller, an offensive lineman at Tates Creek, will play college football at Centre.
■ The Trinity-St. Xavier football game, which usually draws more than 30,000 fans to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, has been rescheduled for Saturday, Oct. 3 at 6 p.m.
■ The KHSAA Board of Control awarded the 2009 state volleyball tournament to Northern Kentucky University's Regents Hall. The event was held at Bellarmine last year. The state fast-pitch softball tournament will remain in Owensboro through 2011.