High School Sports

Fields: Ideas for new KHSAA commish

Julian Tackett has made it clear he's going to shake things up in the Kentucky High School Athletic Association when he takes over as commissioner. If he's looking for suggestions on what changes to make, I've got three off the top of my head:

1. After expanding football from four to six classes in 2007, it's time to constrict the sport to five classes. (I'd suggest reverting to four, but I know that's not going to happen.) Kentucky simply doesn't have enough football teams to produce competitive playoffs in six classes.

2. Divide baseball, softball, soccer and volleyball into two or three classes. It's not fair that we award one state title in those sports while we crown multiple champions in football, cross country, and track and field.

3. Tweak the boys' and girls' Sweet Sixteen basketball tournaments. I realize they're the sacred (cash) cows of the KHSAA, but they can be made even better. Instead of playing the semifinals Saturday morning/early afternoon, and the finals Saturday night, hold the semis Saturday night, and the finals Sunday afternoon. The way things are now, the semifinals — often the most thrilling showdowns in the state tournaments — are overshadowed by the championship game.

■ Boyd County's baseball field was covered with a tarp over the weekend, but little good that did. The Lions' baseball and softball facilities were flooded when the East Fork River rose out of its banks after five inches of rain fell Sunday. Boyd County baseball coach Brandon Ramsey said the water was six to eight feet deep in some places. "I've coached here since 1994, and played here before that, and I've never seen a flood like this in the spring. It really caught us off guard." All kinds of equipment was destroyed or ruined. "We were lucky that our uniforms were up higher and didn't get touched," Ramsey said. The school's maintenance people have been working non-stop to repair the damage.

■ North Laurel fast-pitch star Megan Taylor threw back-to-back perfect games. She had 17 strikeouts in a seven-inning 8-0 victory against Russell on Derby Day, and followed with a five-inning 13-0 win over Southwestern on Tuesday in which she struck out all 15 batters she faced. Taylor, Gatorade's Kentucky player of the year last season, has 224 K's in 129 innings this spring.

■ Green County freshman Brennen Milby threw his third no-hitter of the season Tuesday against Taylor County. He went seven innings, struck out 11 and walked four. Milby is 5-5 with a 1.93 earned run average.

■ Bracken County hit a state-record six homers against St. Patrick in the 10th Region All "A" fast-pitch tournament. Hannah Haight hit homers in three consecutive at-bats to tie a state record. Felisha Mains, Allana Ahrens and Brooke Riggs also hit homers for the Lady Bears. Mains will play college softball at Midway, while teammates Jaclyn Crawford and Katelyn Meyer have signed with Thomas More.

■ Former LCA star Tyler Oliver, one of the top junior college sluggers in America, has committed to play at Kentucky next season. Oliver is crushing the ball at Wabash Valley in Illinois. He's among the national leaders with 24 homers, 78 RBI and a .475 batting average. Oliver started his college career at Marshall before transferring to Morehead before landing at Wabash Valley.

■ Shelbyville native Roy Bailey Jr., who pitched for UK in the mid-1980s and in the St. Louis Cardinals' minor-league system, will be the baseball coach at the new Collins High School in Shelby County. Bailey, 43, has been coaching youth baseball in his hometown.

■ Campbellsville University sophomore Bailey Dillender, a Lafayette grad, is the Mid-South Conference's softball player of the year. Dillender led the league in hits (62) and slugging (.699), was second in RBI (42), homers (13) and doubles (13), third in runs (42), and fourth in batting average (.380).

■ Roy Walton's death this week prompted everybody who knew him to recount their favorite stories about the legendary football coach. Like the time he told a lineman to throw a block on a dump truck parked near the practice field. (Walton stopped him because he didn't want to pay for any damages to the truck.) Or the time he took his Tates Creek team downtown after a big victory, climbed aboard the statue of Gen. John Hunt Morgan on a horse, and convinced his players that he made that horse move. Or the time he dressed up like a cheerleader, complete with a stuffed sweater. Or the time — at halftime of the 1972 state finals when his unbeaten Commodores trailed Ashland — when he pulled a letter out of his pocket that he hinted was a letter of resignation, when in fact it was a bill from Central Rock. His emotionally charged players went out and beat Ashland 16-7 to win the state title.

■ How did Walton's death affect his former players? Most of them shared the feelings expressed by Eric Horstmeyer in an e-mail. Horstmeyer was one of "Roy's boys" at Tates Creek in the late 1980s who went on to star at Centre. "I still remember my last college game. It was raining like crazy, cold and windy. I looked into the stands and saw that white-haired man standing up there. He had driven to Danville in the storm to watch me play my final game and break the Centre season record for receptions and yardage. That says it all about who he was for the army of young men he inspired along the way. He never forgot about a player."

Donations to the Roy Walton Scholarship Fund for Continuing Education can be made at any BB&T Bank locations.

■ Union County state champion wrestler Caleb Ervin, who suffered second- and third-degree burns in a gas fire accident April 9, is home from the hospital. He hasn't had to have any skin grafts.

■ Clinton County's Storm Burchett signed with Union College. The senior point guard averaged 15.2 points, nine rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.3 steals this season.

■ When Anthony Epps was named Marion County's boys' basketball coach last week, it was no surprise to Campbellsville Coach Tim Davis. He was Epps' coach at Marion County when the Knights won the 1993 state championship. "Anthony was our coach on the floor," Davis said. "Even at a young age he had the leadership skills and basketball knowledge." Davis expects his former player, who also helped UK win the 1996 NCAA title, to succeed as a coach. "He's always been good working with kids. Plus he's a hometown hero. He's got kids who look up to him, and that's half the battle won." Campbellsville and Marion County are in the same district in the 5th Region, which means Davis and Epps will coach against each other at least twice next season. Epps' assistants at Marion County will include Mark Bell, who played on Ballard's 1998 Sweet Sixteen title team.

■ Louisville Eastern point guard Delquan Thomas has signed with Cincinnati State Junior College.

■ Mercer County basketball standouts Abra Sickles and Leah Flora made their college choices. The 6-3 Sickles signed with UNC-Asheville. Flora, a 1,000-point scorer, is headed to St. Catharine.

■ Bryan Station's Mikyla Mosby, a 5-6 guard who averaged eight points this season, signed with Berea College.

■ June Buchanan guard Clint Stepp, whose 372 career three-pointers rank third in boys' state history, signed with Alice Lloyd College.

■ Kelly Carwile, an assistant at Mason county the last two seasons, is the new boys' basketball coach at Pike County Central. Carwile has been a head coach at Webster County and Lyon County. He succeeds Johnny Martin at Pike Central.

■ George Sauer died this week at age 79. He was a former KHSAA Board of Control president, high school principal, and athletics director for Louisville's public schools.

■ Eastern Kentucky's Zack Butler, a Dunbar grad, was named freshman golfer of the year in the Ohio Valley Conference, and earned first-team all-OVC honors. Butler led the Colonels in stroke average (73.0) and had two top-five and three top-10 finishes. He was medalist in his first college tournament. Also, EKU has signed Madison Central all-state golfers Adam Herald and Stuart Witt.

Baseball 'frenzy'

The iHigh Fayette County Baseball Frenzy (formerly known as the Fayette County Invitational Tournament) will be played at Lexington's five public schools this weekend:

At BRYAN STATION

Friday: Bryan Station vs. East Carter, 5;30; East Jessamine vs. Harlan Co., 8.

Saturday: Bryan Station vs. Harlan Co., 11.; East Carter vs. Harlan Co., 1:30; East Carter vs. East Jessamine, 4; Bryan Station vs. East Jessamine, 6:30.

At HENRY CLAY

Friday: Henry Clay vs. Franklin Co., 5:30; Eastern vs. Highlands, 8.

Saturday: Henry Clay vs. Highlands, 11; Franklin Co. vs. Highlands, 1:30; Eastern vs. Franklin Co., 4; Eastern vs. Henry Clay, 6:30.

At LAFAYETTE

Friday: Lafayette vs. Ryle, 5:30; North Laurel vs. Bowling Green, 8.

Saturday: Lafayette vs. Bowling Green, 11; Bowling Green vs. Ryle, 1:30; Ryle vs. Ballard, 4; Ballard vs. Lafayette, 6:30.

At PAUL DUNBAR

Friday: Boone County vs. PRP, 7:30.

Saturday: LCA vs. PRP, 11; Dunbar vs. PRP, 1:30; LCA vs Boone Co., 4; Dunbar vs. Boone Co., 6:30.

At TATES CREEK

Friday: Tates Creek vs. Middlesboro, 5:30; Greenup Co. vs. Henderson Co., 8.

Saturday: Tates Creek vs. Henderson Co., 11; Henderson Co. vs. Middlesboro, 1:30; Greenup Co. vs. Middlesboro, 4; Tates Creek vs. Greenup Co., 6:30.

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