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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Summer hoops

The local summer league for boys and girls basketball begins next week at Huntington High School. Eight boys and eight girls teams will play together for a month.

Personally, I think this is a good idea. I know there are a lot of AAU teams out there that often take away some top players, but I think playing together as a team in the summer often helps in the winter.

Huntington, Fair Park and Evangel are three of the better boys teams in the are and all three will be participating.

It can't do anything but help those teams in the long run.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


There has been a lot of chatter, but not much in the way of coaching hires -- yet.

The talk at Captain Shreve is that Todd Sharp will replace Ronnie Coker as the Gators' head baseball coach. That can't happen until the job is advertised and the interview process is conducted.

There is also a lot of talk that Al Cantwell will take over at Byrd. Cantwell's name was mentioned with that job a year ago.

Other head coaching vacancies which should be filled in the coming days include head basketball coaching positions at Southwood and Northwood.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Time to follow Texas' lead

Texas is on the verge of testing its high school athletes for steroids. All that is needed is Gov. Rick Perry to sign off on the legislation.

This is important to us in the Ark-La-Tex because it should serve as a model for Arkansas and Louisiana to follow.

I know the arguments that will come. They will say Texas is paying for the steroid testing out of the state government and that Texas has the money to pay while Arkansas and Louisiana don't.

And I know all about the different ways to beat the test.

ButI believe it would be worth the investment if for no other reason than to at least make high school student-athletes think before making a decision to use steroids.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Perfect chance to see Legion baseball

The Haughton Invitational unofficially kicks off the summer American Legion season. The tournament begins on Wednesday.

If high school baseball is your thing, this is the ideal opportunity to watch some blossoming talent. Byrd coach Al Cantwell, who is in the running to coach the Yellow Jackets, is eager to see what some of his kids can do, particularly Allen Degges.

“He’s a centerfielder, and a small stocky kid that can run and hit,” Cantwell said. “He’s got an excellent throwing arm, who covers a lot of ground in the outfield.
“He’s got that attitude that he can run the show out there and be the captain.”

Haughton has to replace the left side of its infield. Those positions were occupied by Cody Causey and Justin Ginn. The duo were three-year starters for the Bucs.

Haughton coach Glenn Maynor does have a pair of all-district players returning in Kyle Neathery and Tyler Williams.

Teams from Ruston, Mineola (Texas) and Sterlington join Haughton, Byrd, Bossier, North DeSoto and Northwood.

The championship game will be Sunday.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Good positions now available

Ronnie Coker's announcement that he was retiring from Captain Shreve to go into private business means there is a plum of a job open in Shreveport.

And with Byrd coach Brian Fowler's departure earlier this month, that means there are two playoff teams in the area with job openings.

LSUS's Al Cantwell has been linked to the Byrd job.

While few names have come up for the Shreve job because of the short time since Coker's announcement, it figures to draw some high-quality candidates.

There is a good core of returning players. The school has spruced up the baseball facility. And the players expect to win.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Say what?

The teams have been announced for the state high school all-star baseball games Friday and Saturday in Alexandria.

The rosters include a couple of Captain Shreve players (catcher Clint Ewing and pitcher Austin Ross), two Haughton players (Justin Ginn and Cody Causey), and a Benton player (Eldred Barnett).

But not Calvary players.

I realize the game is for seniors, but no Gip Hendrix? He hit 18 home runs. Granted, some may be in smaller parks and against weaker competition, but still Calvary played a respectable schedule.

It's surprising that Hendrix will be home this weekend.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

All-city, All-Area baseball

We'll have our All-City and All-Area baseball teams in Thursday's paper.

Here is an inside look at how the teams are selected.

We begin by asking for coaches' nominations. We also talk to high school coaches, pro scouts and, of course, the writers who cover the teams.

We separate the All-City from the All-Area with the city being Caddo and Bossier Parish schools and the rest coming from the outlying areas.

There is no set criteria for the team. Stats are nice but not always as important as you might think. For example, a pitcher with a losing record can still be considered if he has pitched well but just didn't have run support. Conversely, piling up big hitting or pitching numbers against weak competition doesn't help.

We've spent the better part of two days going over these selections. We feel fairly certain some people will not agree with our choices and complain. We also know that the team is the best we could put together - and yes we've run it by some coaches and scouts to see if we were on target.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Wrapping up baseball

The state's ridiculous one-and-done playoff system is over for another year.

And for another year the two best teams in the state didn't hoist the hardware. Barbe and Captain Shreve - two nationally ranked teams - were eliminated in the 5A and 4A tournaments respectively.

Still, for this area, it was a banner year in baseball.

Calvary's state championship in Class 1A brought a title to the area. The Cavaliers will move up to Class 2A next year but figure to be strong again with the return of Randy Zeigler.

Benton surprised everyone by reaching the Class 3A state title game. The Tigers were young this season and should be a factor again next year.

Shreve will be moving up to Class 5A next season. The Gators still have a good nucleus coming bac.

Airline came through when it counted and reached the state tournament.

All in all, it was one of the better years in recent memory for baseball in Caddo-Bossier.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Congratulations to Calvary

Three years ago Calvary didn't have an LHSAA athletic program.

Saturday the Cavaliers took home the Class 1A state championship. Calvary's win had everything to do with a singular focus the team and coaching staff carried with them all season long.

In early February, coach Rodney Traweek said his team had one goal -- win the state title. It was one of those times where you had to wonder if dreaming big would ultimately spell defeat.

It didn't. Traweek and his staff kept his team focused on its goal through all 37 games. Even when the Cavaliers ripped off a 22-game win streak to open the season, Traweek wanted to be on top at the end.

And thanks to the performances of Gip Hendrix, Randy Zeigler and the rest of the Cavaliers, they are.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Memo from Monroe

Musings from Monroe and the Class 4A baseball title game.

1) This is why I hate the LHSAA's baseball playoff system. The best team in 4A all year was Captain Shreve. Yet in the one-and-done world of the LHSAA,it doesn't matter. Shreve is a 7-0 loser and runner-up to Zachary.

Yes, the same Zachary the Gators beat THREE TIMES during the regular season.

It's not just Shreve. Barbe is nationally ranked in USA Today. But one cold day at the plate and the Bucs are going home as well.

Have I mentioned what a joke this playoff system is?

2) I realize I'm getting old, but some of the Zachary in-game celebrations were a little over the top.

I realize the Broncos were playing, as pitcher Zack Von Rosenberg put it, with "a chip on their shoulder'' after having lost three times to Shreve. And I don't mind being excited after home runs and good plays.

But when the home plate umpire is having to get the team back in the dugout after a simple run is being scored, something is wrong.

"There's a right way of playing the game and a wrong a way,'' Shreve coach Ronnie Coker said. "I think we play the right way.''

Read into that what you will.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Shreve goes for a record

The 2006 Captain Shreve Gators baseball team set the bar pretty high for anyone in the state. Thirty-seven wins will do that. Those 37 wins accumulated by the Gators are a state record.

As we know, records are made to be broken. Few probably would have thought that record would be an endangered one 365 days after it was set. Even fewer would have predicted that same school would be the one to do it.

But that's where Captain Shreve circa 2007 stands. After Thursday's 6-3 victory over Breaux Bridge in the Class 4A semifinals, Shreve's record is 37-3, the same record it ended 2006 with.

The Gators lost seven starters from last season's squad. They lost players like Phillip Freeman, who set a school record for RBIs and was second in single-season stolen bases. They lost pitchers like Zach Johnson and John Anderson. Anderson tied the school record for wins last season.

Yet, here they stand one win away from more history -- and more importantly a second straight state title.

Impressive? Definitely. Surprising? Only slightly.

No respect?

I'm looking at USA Today's baseball ranking for high school teams. I see Lake Charles Barbe. I don't see Captain Shreve.

I look in the regional rankings. Again, I find Barbe. No Captain Shreve.

How can you be ranked nationally by Baseball America but not USA Today?

It's not like Shreve is a newcomer to the prep baseball scene. The Gators won the state 4A title last year.

Now I'm not saying Shreve is better than Barbe. But I am saying Shreve is at least one of the best teams in the South region.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Placing in state track meet OK too.

There's nothing wrong with being second -- or third or fourth -- in the state at something.

While plenty of local athletes won state titles at last week's state track and field meet, several also placed well.

Airline freshman Rebecca Blubaugh turned in perhaps one of the most impressive performances, finishing fourth in the Class 5A 1,600. Blubaugh was only four seconds out of third and 10 behind the first-place finisher. Blubaugh, who also finished sixth in the 800, will definitely be someone to watch in the future.

Travis Howard of Haughton also was impressive with a second-place finish in the 100 hurdles and a third-place finish in the 300 hurdles.

Here are how some other area athletes fared in the Class 5A, 4A and 3A meets.

Margret Harris, Huntington, third in Class 5A long jump; Alexis Holt, Airline, fourth in Class 5A girls 100 hurdles and fourth in 300 hurdles; Vashti Dotson, Bossier, second in Class 4A shot put; Carissa Brown, Bossier, second in Class 4A 200 and fourth in 100; Jace Prescott, Haughton, third in Class 4A boys shot put; Antonio Erving, Bossier, third in Class 4A triple jump.; Matt Wolfe, Parkway, fourth in Class 4A 1600; Bossier second in Class 4A 400 relay; Rex Walker, Captain Shreve, fourth in Class 4A 400.

BTW girls, fourth in Class 3A 800 relay; Sapphira Brown, BTW, fourth in Class 3A 200; Romero Brass, Benton, third in Class 3A shot put.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Home of baseball?

While Shreveport-Bossier City has had its challenges in high school football and basketball in recent years, basebal this year is a different matter.

Just take a look at these state tournament teams.

5A - Airline. This is a Vikings team that lost its third-place tiebreaker to Byrd and is now one of the final eight in the state.

4A - Captain Shreve. The defending state champions will consider this season a waste if it doesn't end in another dogpile in Monroe.

3A - Benton. The Tigers were a first-round knockout last year. This year they're in the final four.

1A - Calvary. This is another team that will consider the season a disappointment without a state title.

That's four teams in the top five classes and two of them are the favorites to win.
Not a bady year here in the area.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

What's the deal?

Apparently one of the least safe places for a father to have his daughter is playing on a softball team.

There have been two arrests of area high school softball coaches this spring. There are at least two other instances where coaches or assistants have quietly gone away amid rumor of improper conduct.

Now, the first thing is to remember that the vast majority of coaches are trying to do just that -- coach players in their respective sport.

Unfortunately, there are instances where there is more alleged to be going on than coaching.

It's a black mark for the sport, no doubt. But it should be kept in perspective in comparison to the number of coaches who are doing the right things.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Few surprises

So we're down near the end of the high school baseball season and these are the schools still playing -- Airline, Benton, Calvary, Captain Shreve and Evangel.

All of those programs have been historically strong. None are really surprising.

And there certainly isn't any surprise that Shreve, the defending 4A state champion, would reach the semifinals. And it isn't surprising that Calvary and Evangel are on a collision course for the 1A finals.

Airline is a bit of a surprise if only because the team was fourth in District 1-5A. But the Vikings have a strong tradition and could hang around for a while.

Benton has been something of a surprise if only because the team flew under the radar as 1-3A champions.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Good results in state tennis

Overall, the results were good for tennis players from local high schools in the recently completed state tournaments.

Parkway senior Claire Clark was the only local singles player to reach the finals. Clark, the defending Class 4A champ, lost to St. Thomas More's Erin Wilbert.

Byrd freshman Robert Verzaal reached the Class 5A singles semifinals and will be a threat to win the title in the future. The bad news for Verzaal is that the player he lost to 6-1, 6-1, Garrett Brasseaux of St. Paul's, is only a freshman, too. Also, the player Brasseaux beat in the finals, Destrehan's Charlie Jones, is only a junior. Jones got sick in the finals and was forced to retire.

Byrd freshman Maddie Layton also made it to the singles semifinals. But there's some bad news for her, too. Layton lost to another freshman, St. Joseph's Lauren Mira, in the semifinals 6-0, 6-0. Still, Layton shouldn't feel too bad. Mira lost only four games the entire tournament.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

No surprise

Boy, you must really want to get beat when you walk two of the first three hitters you face when playing Captain Shreve.

Or when you hit three batters in an inning the way Neville did against Shreve tonight.

Shreve is good enough to win baseball games without the help, but Neville dug a hole and the Gators gladly buried them.

Now here is where it gets interesting. Because of the rainout on Tuesday and the fact that even that game wasn't originally scheduled for Monday, the Gators will have to use a pitcher other than Austin Ross on Friday in the quarterfinals against Pineville.

Now, let's be honest,Shreve has enough pitching to win the state championship. But it would have been a heckuva lot easier for the Gators if Ross could have thrown on Monday and then come back on Friday or Saturday. But it won't happen.

So we'll see what happens. I'm betting here that Shreve has enough pitching depth to win another state title.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Collision course

Coaches don't like to look down the road in the playoffs.

So we'll do it.

It sure looks like a Calvary-Evangel matchup for the baseball title in Class 1A.

I say that because Calvary knocked off the No. 2 team in the state -- St. Edmund -- with relative ease (11-4) and Evangel did the same to the No. 3 team, St. Frederick (8-4).

Both are in opposite ends of the quarterfinal bracket.

It looks like the two will get to meet for the title again for the second straight year.