Fairview wasn't so lucky in '13.
Rival Raceland experienced a new high in football.
Those are just two of the many stories that stick out as the year's most memorable in 2013, as chosen by The Independent's sports staff.
From the highs and lows of area football to capping careers, 2013 contained quite a conglomeration.
1. KHSAA penalizes Fairview.
Stripped of 18 wins and a Class A state championship game appearance, Fairview football experienced a 180-degree turn for the worst. After having played an ineligible player for all of the 2012 season and part of the 2013 season, the small school in Westwood captured the attention of the entire area, and even state, as the Kentucky High School Athletic Association intervened.
The program self-imposed sanctions, and received even more punishment. Penalties included the forfeits, a four-year probation, a $5,000 fine and a one-year playoff ban.
Nathan McPeek resigned as football coach, but stayed at Fairview as a teacher. Principal/athletic director/assistant coach Garry McPeek was reassigned to the elementary school as a physical education instructor, dropping all former titles.
2. Kittens count to five.
Pitcher Megan Hensley was so outstanding in racking up no-hitters and strikeouts that she committed to the University of Louisville before the end of the year.
Power-hitting first baseman McKenzie Vanover piled up the long balls.
Both are juniors, which means both are back for a chance at six straight 16th Region titles.
Ashland notched its fifth in a row with the dynamic duo leading the way.
3. Raceland tackles region.
Daylin Beach, named Small School All-Area Player of the Year, said he and the Rams' 2013 senior group grew tired of hearing about how great past Rams' teams were.
They wanted to make their own mark, and they did. By defeating Pikeville, 14-3, in November, the Rams won the school's first-ever region championship.
Raceland also notched its 500th win, celebrated with a 17-0 victory over Ironton in October.
4. Logan Salow is Mr. Perfect.
Ashland senior left-handed pitcher Logan Salow fired a perfect game against Lawrence County in Prestonsburg. He struck out 18 of the 21 batters he faced, and tossed only 79 pitches against the highly regarded Bulldogs.
Salow also earned his second straight All-Area Player of the Year award, was an All-Area selection in three sports (baseball, basketball, football) and is now a freshman pitcher for the University of Kentucky. He was also instrumental in leading Ashland to a 16th Region title, achieving MVP honors for a tournament in which he displayed his variety of skills.
5. Ashland's diamond double.
Cade O'Bryan's clutch heroics. Logan Salow's run-preventing throwing and pitching. Evan Cox's unexpected gem.
The Tomcats came up with a winning mix for the second straight year, punching a ticket to Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington in dramatic fashion.
O'Bryan, a power lefty, supplied walk-off hits in the 16th Region Tournament first round (an extra-inning RBI double against Lewis County) and semifinals (a long home run against Rowan County).
Salow pitched all nine innings against Lewis County, hurled a clutch assist from center field and tallied hits and stole bases.
Cox earned the win in the finals versus Greenup County.
6. Ashland goes "Bowling" again.
Allie Slone froze at the free-throw line, eyed the basket and let it fly. 53-52. Then, again. 54-52. Slone's final two free throws iced a hotly contested regional affair as the Kittens emerged on top of Boyd County for the second straight season.
7. Webb shelves the glove.
Former Ashland Tomcat Brandon Webb's superb major league baseball career was cut short due to injury, but he refused to go down without a fight. Webb relentlessly worked for a shot at an improbable comeback, but he finally submitted in February. The 2006 National League Cy Young Award winner called it a career.
8. HOF ditto for Ditty.
Julie Ditty, a highly successful former professional tennis player from Russell, entered into two Hall of Fames.
Ditty was inducted into the KHSAA Hall of Fame and the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame alongside Pervis Ellison, Dwayne Woodruff and Calvin Borel.
Ditty is now an assistant tennis coach at Middle Tennessee State University.
9. Putnam's punctuation.
A year after Ashland supposedly played its last game at "Old" Putnam Stadium, it did just that.
The Tomcats beat Covington Holmes, 49-20, on Nov. 8. They'll have a ultra-renovated facility to play in next year.
10. Kouns calls it.
An officiating fixture, Bob Kouns hung up the whistle after 47 years of being a basketball referee. He will continue to work baseball and football games.
Honorable mention (no particular order):
-Fairview track garners trio of titles: Paige McKnight (100-meter hurdles); Mason Rutherford (high jump); and Morgan McIntyre (pole vault).
-Kyles close the basketball book: Russell's Kyle Skaggs and West Carter's Kyle Brown wrap up careers as school's leading scorers.
-Ashland football's Tony Love exceeds expectations: In first season at the helm, Love guided the Tomcats, who returned three starters, to an 8-4 season.
-Legendary area football coach Ivan McGlone returns to Russell even after suffering heart attack and other health problems.
-Back-to-back aces at Bellefonte Country Club: Senior golfers Beverly Shaffer and Debbie Lewis achieved an uncanny feat by hitting hole-in-ones on back-to-back swings in a club-sponsored outing this past fall.
-MatCats send 10 to state: Ashland, under Tony Love, sent an unprecedented 10 wrestlers to state competition.
-Soccer success: Both the girls' and boys' local region soccer representatives, Ashland's boys and Russell's girls, advanced to the Elite Eight of the state tournament.
-Raceland nets first title: The Lady Rams' volleyball team set a slew of program records under coach Jason Clark, including most wins in a season (35) and earning its first 16th Region crown.
-Alumni Game a smash hit: When former Ashland and Boyd County football players clashed this past summer in Grayson, it was much more popular than ever envisioned.
-Johnson Central boys basketball goes back-to-back in 15th Region behind Marshall signee Shane Hall.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.
Fairview wasn't so lucky in '13.
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