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Friday, April 18, 2008

Sulphur bound

So we'll have Byrd in the Class 5A softball state tournament next week and Benton in the Class 4A tournament. After that, it will be area schools in smaller classifications as top-seeded Evangel didn't make it out of the second round.

Amazingly, Byrd, Benton and the rest of the Sulphur-bound teams are just getting to the hard part. There are still three games to be won over two days to win a state championship.

Still, anytime you make a state tournament it's a big deal. Congratulations to those teams.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Big man on campus

If you don't think the times have changed consider Mansfield junior defensive tackle Chris Davenport. He is receiving between 40 to 45 mail items daily from colleges around the country recruiting him.

There was a time when a 6-3, 320-pound defensive tackle at a Class 2A school in northwest Louisiana would have slid under the radar.

Not anymore.

His scholarship opportunities look like a who's who of college football -- LSU, USC, Oklahoma, Florida, Florida State, we could go on and on.

This is a good thing for the players. It's a good thing for the big schools. But not so much for smaller schools that could find the hidden gems and build around them.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It's the pitching

I was talking to a couple of DeSoto Parish softball coaches who have teams still playing in the playoffs.

It's no coincidence that Logansport and Stanley are still playing. Both shut out their opponents in the first round.

In fact, Logansport has allowed only two runs in its last four games. That would be a .50 runs per game against average.

Logansport coach Alan Bagley joked that if his team gives up .50 runs on Thursday he'll win.

He's right. If you've got good pitching -- and Logansport does with Shondra Smith -- then you can go a long way.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The busiest time of year

It's that time of year. When everything it seems comes together -- softball playoff games, district track meets, crucial baseball games, state golf tournaments, city lacrosse championships, just about everything seems to be played now.

It's a challenge to get everything covered. Yet it is fun to watch the competition and the genuine emotion that comes out.

After Northwood's 2-0 softball playoff loss to DeRidder, some of the Northwood players were in tears. That's what happens when the reality of a season's conclusion sets in.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The bad side of seeding

Second-seeded Byrd put up double digits in the first inning of its first-round playoff game.

While I'm generally in favor of seeding, some of these 1-32, 2-31 games are just a joke.

I realize the Huntington boys basketball team had a tough 1-32 game. But on the whole, you pretty much know the outcome before you get there.

And that was the case with Byrd in this game.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Playoff time

The state softball playoffs start on Monday and Byrd will be at home for the first round.

If you go by the seeds, Evangel and Byrd are the best chances for Shreveport-area teams in the playoffs. Evangel is a No. 1 seed in Class 2A while Byrd is No. 1 in Class 5A.

The setup of the softball playoffs requires only two wins to reach the state tournament. With the seeding setup, Byrd and Evangel will likely need only one win to get to Sulphur because their games on Monday and Tuesday figure to relatively easy.

It's at Sulphur where these teams will find out if they have what it takes to win a championship.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Under the radar

One baseball coach dropped perhaps the line of the year Saturday, saying scouting high school sports is tough because "it's a whole lot of hype."

We're partly responsible for that, I'll admit. That also means we're partly responsible for the "under the radar" players.

I saw one of those while covering a game at Airline on Saturday.

Andrew Shamsabady is the third pitcher in the Vikings' weekend rotation, but you wouldn't have known it Saturday.

The fast-working (we love those in journalism circles, by the way) right-hander was at his best when his team needed it, two-hitting Byrd as Airline clinched a share of the district crown.

Shamsabady's coach, Toby Todd, said he uses his fastball mainly as a show pitch and he did just that Saturday, getting Byrd to hit several lazy fly balls and slow rollers.

A few more starts like that and Shamsabady may become a hard-to-spell household name.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

New look to 1-5A football

It will certainly be a different look to District 1-5A football next season.

Huntington already has a new head coach in Jerry Byrd from North DeSoto. Now, Southwood is in the market for a new coach after Scott Abernathy left the school for the North DeSoto job.

Abernathy's departure puts Southwood in a bit of a bind since spring practice starts up in a couple of weeks.

Southwood principal Ken Wood said tonight he will likely name an interim coach for spring. He said he doesn't want to make a quick hire over a quality hire.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

New coach at Huntington

The Caddo Parish School Board made it official with the unanimous approval of Jerry Byrd as the Huntington High School football coach.

Byrd turned the program around at North Caddo in his first stint. He was making progress at doing the same at North DeSoto.

He'll have another challenge at Huntington. The school has been loaded with athletes through the years -- Troy Edwards and Kenny Davidson to name a pair -- but has never really reached its potential.

Byrd will take his turn at seeing if he can make Huntington a perennially strong football team.

He says he won't bring the Wing-T offense with him, but rather fit his philosophies around the talent on hand.

It should be worth watching.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Building in Zwolle

There's more than just basketball in Zwolle.

The Hawks are ranked No. 3 in the state in baseball. They're on the verge of wrapping up a district title.

This is a nice complement to a basketball town.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Rainy days

Say one thing about rainy spring days, it makes it awfully quiet around here. There were few baseball/softball calls today. Just a game or two that weren't called in on Thursday.

That means we'll have lots of doubleheaders this weekend and next.

As for Saturday, Loyola is having its baseball centennial celebration on Saturday with former players being honored between games of a doubleheader. It should be a lot of fun for those former players.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A down year

If you don't think it's a down year for high school baseball around here, just check out this week's state top 10 polls.

There are exactly three teams from Caddo and Bossier parishes ranked in the different classification top 10s.

Airline is ranked No. 9 in the Class 5A poll. Calvary is ranked No. 3 in the Class 2A poll and Evangel is No. 6.

That's a far cry from last year when Shreve was No. 1 in the 4A poll and Calvary was No. 1 in the 1A poll.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Good day for Byrd

Tuesday was a great day to be a Byrd Yellow Jacket.

The school's softball team went on the road and won at Airline, 6-1. It was a lot closer than the score with Airline having base runners in every inning except the seventh.

Then in the nightcap, the baseball team rallied from six runs down to score seven times in the final two innings for a 7-6 win over 18th-ranked Arkansas High.

Yep, it was a good day for the Yellow Jackets.