Watching lots of rain fall on district baseball this week reminds me ...
When I played Little League baseball back in the early 1960s, we had skin infields (no grass). There were no tarps for the field, so when it rained and made conditions wet and muddy, there was one solution: dousing the infield with gasoline or diesel fuel and setting it on fire to dry it. That may not have been as efficient as a tarp, but it was a heck of a lot more exciting.
■ Baseball coaches Bill Miller of Pleasure Ridge Park and Jody Hamilton of West Jessamine reached milestones this week. Miller, in his 34th season at PRP, became the winningest coach in state history with his 1,007th victory, one more than Green County's Larry Gumm had before retiring in 2007. Hamilton, in his 11th year at West Jessamine (after 16 at Boyd County and four at Raceland), got his 800th victory. "There are only a few of us dinosaurs left," Hamilton said, referring to himself, Miller, Harrison County's Mac Whitaker (984 wins), Covington Catholic's Bill Krumpelbeck (864) and Apollo's Bob Mantooth (864), all of whom have been forces of change and improvement in Kentucky high school baseball the past 30-plus years.
Miller, whose Panthers have won four state titles, said his longevity "tells people that I'm old and I'm stupid. You gotta be stupid to coach that long." Miller is proudest of PRP's sustained excellence. "We've won 30 games or more 23 times. That's amazing." He credits that consistency to a run of talented players, and having assistants Sherman Blaszczyk and Richie Hawks with him for more than 20 years.
Hamilton remembers when he first started coaching at Raceland, the team didn't have a home field so it would practice on the school parking lot. He went on to build a powerhouse (and a show-place facility) at Boyd County, and led the Lions to a state title in 2001.
He remembers when he and his fellow "dinosaurs" started the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association in the 1980s, and how that organization helped promote the sport by starting state rankings and all-state teams. "The KHSAA has been a big help, too."
Hamilton credits his own success to having "so many great players," and to the influence of legendary coaches such as Charlie Adkins of Paintsville and Charlie Taylor of Somerset. Hamilton has a baseball family, too, starting with his wife Denise, "who never complains" about the demands of his job. Their son Casey, a star player at Boyd County (Class of 2002), is still involved in the game as the assistant director of grounds at Vero Beach (Fla.) Sports Village. Their daughter Neena is married to former WKU baseball player Wade Gaynor, and they're expecting their first child in December. You can bet Grandpa Jody will be talking baseball chatter to the baby soon after it's born.
■ Dylan Creech's high school baseball career is over, but he's leaving his name in the record books. The Wolfe County star is the state's all-time leader in career RBI (255), single-season RBI (87), one-game RBI (13), career walks (169), and home runs in consecutive at bats (six). He was such a feared hitter than he once drew 10 consecutive walks. He ranks second all-time in batting average (.576), runs (215), and hits (242), and third in doubles (65), triples (18) and stolen bases (141). He played catcher and also pitched. Creech started five years at Wolfe County after starting at Breathitt County as a seventh-grader. He was the Bobcats' designated hitter, but the scorebooks from that season can't be found, so his career numbers don't include those statistics. Creech hasn't had time to reflect on his high school accomplishments, but he said he's looking forward to playing at Wabash College in Indiana next year. "The good thing is when I go to college, nobody will know who I am, so pitchers will pitch to me again. I won't have to look at nibble pitches anymore. They'll just put it in there."
■ Harrison County's Jordan Martin pitched a perfect game, with 13 strikeouts, in a 2-0 win over Nicholas County in the 38th District finals. Martin, a senior righthander, threw 76 pitches, 60 for strikes. In 2009 his brother Jared had a perfect game for the Thorobreds in a 2-0 win over Simon Kenton. Harrison County is 21-7 this year, its 33rd consecutive 20-win season under Mac Whitaker.
■ Franklin County's Nick Cumpston threw a no-hitter and had 16 strikeouts in a 7-0 victory over Western Hills in the 41st District tournament. The senior righthander has pitched 57 innings this year and has 80 strikeouts, 25 walks and a 2.93 ERA.
■ Green County senior righthander Brennen Milby threw his state-record seventh career no-hitter against Caverna two weeks ago. The Ohio State signee has 10 career one-hitters. He had 10 strikeouts in a 5-1 win over LaRue County in the 18th District finals on Wednesday. Milby is 8-1 with 100 K's in 48 innings this season.
■ High school softball lost a friend, fan and influential figure when Vernon Bibb died last week. He was 73. Mr. Bibb was a pitching instructor for more than 30 years, mostly in Louisville and Lexington. He was the founder and director of Blue Chip Fastpitch Softball Camp for 17 years, and coached softball at Bellarmine for six years. Mr. Bibb is a member of the Kentucky High School Softball Hall of Fame. Efforts are being made to start a scholarship in Mr. Bibb's name. Donations can be sent to Kentucky Prep Softball, Box 1304, London, KY 40743.
■ Hopkins Central softball star Jordan McNary hit the cycle for the second time this season last week. The Louisville signee did it against Todd Central. She led off the game with a double, tripled in her next at-bat, hit a three-run homer, and capped off her day with a bunt single.
■ Jason Holland had a good thing going as the Oldham County boys' basketball coach. He led the Colonels to 8th Region titles two of the last three years, and the program is well-stocked for the future. But Holland decided to leave Oldham County for Montgomery County where he will replace Happy Osborne. Holland said there are several reasons for his job change. He's from Clay County (where his mom still lives), he played high school ball at Red Bird and college ball at Berea. "Montgomery County is closer to where I'm from," he said. He also likes that Montgomery County is the only school in the county, and it has great facilities. Holland went 92-38 in four years at Oldham County. Before that he was at Henry County five years. He will be Montgomery County's fourth coach in four years, following Osborne, Tony Wise and Keith Griesser.
■ Oldham County didn't have to look far for its new boys' coach. Coy Zerhusen, a Colonels' assistant the past five years, will head the program. Zerhusen played at Scott County and Centre College. "A great hire," Holland said. "Coy is great with all kids on all levels."
■ Troy Barr is stepping down as boys' basketball coach at Bullitt East to become the school's athletic director. Barr, 44, led the Chargers to three region titles in 11 years and had an overall record 245-95.
■ Madison Central's state championship boys' basketball team was No. 60 in MaxPreps' final national ratings of the season. C'mon. I can't believe there were 59 teams in America better than Allen Felhdaus Jr.'s Indians.
■ Knox Central track star Cassi Shippy, who has signed with UK, finished off her career on a high note at the state meet last weekend. She won the 100-meter dash, was second in the long jump, third in the 200, and was part of the Panthers' third-place 4x100 relay. Shippy also played basketball for Knox Central.
■ Bryan Station senior Rachel Murphy signed to play volleyball at Pikeville. Murphy was a four-year starter for the Defenders and team MVP the past two years. She also played softball and tennis, and was an academic standout (3.62 GPA).
■ Lexington Christian senior sharpshooter Tyler Harville has decided to play prep school basketball at Vermont Academy next season instead of going to Division II Colorado Christian.
■ Charles Foster, who played point guard on Trinity's 2012 state basketball championship team, has signed with Vincennes University in Indiana. This past season Foster averaged 19 points at Lee Academy, a prep school in Maine.
■ Henry Clay signees: Emily McClendon (Rose Hulman volleyball); Gerrard Newby (Union basketball); David Salyers (Asbury baseball); Brittany Sears (Centre softball).
■ Lafayette signees: Lucas McAvoy (Centre baseball); Daniel Fathergill (Campbellsville swimming); Abbie Bowling (Asbury softball, volleyball); Luke Rearic (Lindsey Wilson wrestling).
Kentucky's all-time winningest baseball coaches (* denotes active):
*Bill Miller, PRP 1,008
Larry Gumm, Green Co. 1,006
*Mac Whitaker, Harrison Co. 984
Don Richardson, Madison Cen. 952
*Bill Krumplebeck, Cov. Catholic 864
*Bob Mantooth, Apollo 864
*Jody Hamilton, W. Jessamine 801