Breathitt County's Alex Hamilton is known as a strikeout pitcher, but he had a special "K" performance on Monday. The 6-foot-1 senior left-hander rang up 25 strikeouts in nine innings — 21 in the first seven! — in the Bobcats' 5-4, 10-inning victory over Jackson City.
"I felt more overpowering than usual," Hamilton said. "I had a whole lot more movement on my ball. I was bringing it in and out on 'em, and my location was very good."
Hamilton had two four-strikeout innings when the Breathitt County catcher let third strikes get by him.
High school rules limit pitchers to nine innings in one day, so Hamilton, who had a no-hitter through 81⁄3 innings, didn't get the win. But he did set a state record for strikeouts in a seven-inning game.
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Last season Hamilton had 114 K's in 561⁄3 innings, setting a state record by averaging 14 strikeouts a game. He's ahead of that pace this spring with 97 K's in 38 innings.
Hamilton's fastball is in the mid- to high 80s. He also throws a knuckle curve, a slider and circle change. He credits his dad, Dr. Derrick Hamilton, with teaching him the fundamentals of pitching. Dr. Hamilton and Gwynn Cox are Breathitt County's interim coaches.
Hamilton, who scored 1,000 points in basketball for the Bobcats, has signed to play baseball at Eastern Kentucky. Colonels Coach Jason Stein took notice of Monday's game. "Certainly 25 strikeouts is amazing," Stein said in an email. "Very hard to do, but obviously you have to be in the zone in order to have that many K's. Alex's stuff can be strikeout stuff, and we are very excited to have him next year."
■ Pikeville junior lefty Jacob Hamilton struck out 19 out of 21 batters in a perfect game against Belfry last week.
Hamilton, who pitched in the state tournament as an eighth-grader and sophomore, got the other two outs against Belfry on a pop-up and ground-out as the Panthers won 9-0. Pikeville is the defending 15th Region champion.
■ In another example of how competitive the 43rd District is, Paul Laurence Dunbar junior Aaron Ochsenbein threw a two-hitter, and Connor Huskey's first-inning RBI single held up, as the Bulldogs beat Lexington Catholic 1-0 Wednesday night. District standings through Wednesday's play: No. 6 Tates Creek 4-1; No. 25 Lafayette 4-2; No. 12 Dunbar 3-3; Lexington Christian 1-3; No. 8 Lexington Catholic 1-4.
■ Greenwood is the top-rated softball team in the state for good reason. The Lady Gators, who took a 20-0 record into Thursday's game against Bowling Green, have outscored their opponents by a staggering 167-9.
Junior pitcher Elizabeth Moss was unbeaten in her first 14 games. Greenwood's success is nothing new. Coach Penny Reece guided the Lady Gators to back-to-back state titles in 2007 and 2008.
They made it to the state tournament semifinals and won 40 games last year.
■ Hopkins Central softball star and Louisville signee Jordan McNary became the first player in school history to hit for the cycle.
She did it against Dawson Springs on Tuesday. McNary, who's batting .580, had five hits, including her seventh homer.
■ Madison Central's Dominique Hawkins, Mr. Basketball and a UK signee, will throw out the first pitch of Madison Central's baseball game against Bryan Station on May 3 at 7:30 p.m. Little League players in uniform (and one parent) will be admitted free. Hawkins will sign autographs.
■ First-round pairings for the Forcht Bank/KHSAA State Baseball Tournament at Whitaker Bank Ballpark (June 3-8): 3rd Region vs. 12th; 13th vs. 15th; 2nd vs. 14th; 8th vs. 11th; 16th vs. 6th; 7th vs. 4th; 10th vs. 9th; 1st vs. 5th.
■ First-round pairings for the Rawlings/KHSAA State Fast-Pitch Softball Tournament at Jack Fisher Park in Owensboro (June 6-8) : 9th Region vs. 10th; 4th vs. 13th; 1st vs. 5th; 11th vs. 7th; 14th vs. 12th; 8th vs. 6th; 2nd vs. 3rd; 15th vs. 16th.
■ There are no unbeaten baseball teams in the state. Collins, which won its first 20 games, lost to Grant County 6-2, and Bullitt East, which won its first 19, fell to Warren East 4-2 last week.
■ After it was noted in this column that Paris High School has several alumni serving as head coaches, Jim Swinford of Cynthiana sent a long list of former Harrison County athletes now coaching or serving as sports administrators for the Thorobreds: Brad Allison (athletic director); David Fields (assistant AD); Jim Carr (football); Larry Kendall (boys' basketball); Kim Furnish (girls' basketball); Mac Whitaker (baseball); Christine Garnett (softball); Kim Jenkins (girls' soccer); Brad Yearsley (archery); Petey Reynolds (bowling); Robert Walker (boys' track); Luke Tucker (wrestling); and Jessica Reynolds (cheerleading).
■ Perry Central football star Austin Pray, a member of the Herald-Leader's Class of the Commonwealth, signed with Centre College. Pray, a 4.0 student who scored a 32 on the ACT, had scholarship offers from Air Force, Campbellsville and Pikeville.
■ Tim Riley, who coached Warren Central's boys to eight 4th Region titles and the 2004 state basketball title, is returning to the sidelines, but not in Kentucky. Riley, 52, is the new coach at Springfield High School in Tennessee. Springfield has an enrollment of 1,100 and is in Class 3A. After resigning from Warren Central after the 2011 season, Riley spent a year on the women's staff at WKU. He did not coach this past season. Riley plans to make the daily 100-mile round-trip from his home in Bowling Green to Springfield. His wife is a teacher in Warren County and his daughter is a student at South Warren. Riley wouldn't say this would be his final coaching stop. He left the door open to someday returning to Kentucky high school hoops.
■ Highlands has named Kevin Listerman, an assistant at Cincinnati Colerain, as its new boys' basketball coach. Listerman played at Covington Catholic and NKU, and his previous coaching stops included Bellevue and Boone County. The son of former CovCath Coach Mike Listerman, Kevin replaces Mike Flynn at Highlands.
■ It's official. The Wayne County Board of Education has voted to accept a merger agreement with Monticello. That means Monticello High School is no more, but its illustrious basketball tradition will live on. The Trojans' 1,276 victories are eighth most in state history. They won 16 region titles and were state runners-up in 1960. Stewart Gregory, who played for Monticello in the early 1980s, will cherish special memories as the last boys' coach at Monticello, and knowing that his daughter, Gabriele, scored the last points in school history.
Playing for Monticello's girls, Gabriele hit a three-pointer in the closing seconds of the Lady Trojans' home-court loss to Southwestern in the 48th District tournament. Monticello's boys lost in the district two nights earlier.
■ Lafayette's 6-8 senior Nick Trisko, who averaged 10 points and eight rebounds this season, signed with Greenville College, a Division III school in southern Illinois. The Generals' 6-4 senior Aaron Evans, who averaged four points and four rebounds, will play at Transylvania.
■ Nicole Levandusky, who coached Notre Dame to a runner-up finish in the girls' Sweet Sixteen, has resigned. Levandusky, a former star player at Xavier University, had a four-year record of 91-35. The Pandas will return four starters next season.
■ Franklin-Simpson's Tanner Clark, who averaged 16 points this season, has committed to Centre College. The 6-0 senior scored 1,085 career points.
■ Ricky Gibson is the new boys' basketball coach at Butler. He had been an assistant under Shawn Purlee.
■ Anderson County's girls, who reached the Sweet Sixteen semifinals and finished the season 34-2, will play in the girls' Louisville Invitational Tournament next season. The 8th Region champs will return stars Eriel McKee and Makenzie Cann. Franklin County, 11th Region semifinalist, will also be in the LIT. The Flyers' returnees will include Nannilena White and Dasia Kilbourne. LaRue County and Notre Dame will be the other two non-Louisville teams in the 16-team LIT, set for Jan. 28-Feb. 1, 2014.
■ The inaugural KHSAA Bass Fishing Championship is Friday and Saturday on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. Forty-five teams from 26 schools will launch from the KenLake Marina in Marshall County each morning. Each two-person team is allotted eight hours on the lake. Nathan Taylor and Terry Hager of Woodford County, and Riley Cobb and Ben Marshall of Lafayette are among the teams competing.
■ The KHSAA's Board of Control approved moving the Competitive Cheer Championships to the second week of December at the Kentucky Horse Park's Alltech Arena. They were held in February in Bowling Green this year.
BASEBALL COACHES POLL
(First-place votes in parenthesis)
1. Central Hardin (5)
2. St. Xavier (4)
3. Woodford County (3)
4. Pleasure Ridge Park (2)
6. Tates Creek
8. Lexington Catholic
9. Lone Oak
10. Henderson County
12. Paul Dunbar
13. Harrison County
14. Bullitt East
15. Russell County
17. Lawrence County
18. South Laurel
19. Shelby County
20. Grayson County
21. West Jessamine
22. Covington Catholic
23. Wayne County
24. East Jessamine
SOFTBALL COACHES POLL
(First-place votes in parenthesis)
1. Greenwood (13)
2. Scott County (4)
3. Mercy (1)
4. Owensboro Catholic (1)
5. Lone Oak
7. Oldham County
9. Christian County
10. Boyle County
11. Bullitt East
12. Lou. Holy Cross
13. North Laurel
14. Bowling Green
16. Marshall County
17. Anderson County (1)
20. Livingston Central
23. Meade County
24. Central Hardin
25. Henderson County