Like many Cincinnati Reds fans who refrain from celebrating baseball season until the first pitch is thrown in the Queen City, the Monday Morning Shortstop can’t officially welcome his readers to the area high school baseball and softball seasons until spring break.
At The Independent, we call it “Florida Week,” when many teams take off for sunnier scenery with some sort of sand closeby.
As we wait for their return, we sports writers can finally take that long-awaited breather to rejuvenate after the basketball grind.
As for the athletes, this April Fool’s Day marks the time to get serious.
Even though the season technically started back in early March, baseball and softball are just now kicking into full swing.
The Shortstop is ready to swing for the fences with his first edition of “The Cycle” in 2013.
‰The fickleness of Mother Nature has created some odd numbers. For instance, Boyd County softball has played just one game while Raceland baseball has eight games under its belt.
‰Raceland’s first defeat of Ashland since 2008 should not be overlooked. These Rams have played tough competition closely in the early going. Key players have been seniors Zayne Sammons, their top pitcher, and senior catcher Ryan Tolliver. But the younger Rams are beginning to contribute, too. Sammons, a fifth-year varsity player, threw a complete game against the Tomcats on Friday.
‰Even though Logan Salow struggled with his command in the loss to Raceland, Ashland’s ace will be just fine. It was the first start for the University of Kentucky-bound senior. Teammate Evan Yongue is quickly showing what he’s capable of — he has 17 strikeouts and one run allowed in 12 innings pitched. “I know that me and Salow together can pretty much take anyone down,” he said confidently on Saturday.
‰Even though the schedule hasn’t exactly been grueling yet, East Carter softball’s results have been outstanding. The Lady Raiders are 8-0 and their talented pitching trio of Morgan Jacobs, Tori Qualls and Montana Fouts has given up a total of eight runs in those eight contests.
‰Watch out for 15th Region softball! Especially in Louisa and Paintsville. Lawrence County is 7-1 with four wins over formidable 16th Region foes (Ashland twice, Russell, Greenup County). Johnson Central is 5-1 with its only loss coming to Greenup County.
‰Only one 16th Region team received votes in the latest Kentucky Softball Coaches Association Poll — Boyd County tied for 46th place with one vote. Johnson Central came in with 17 votes, good for 30th place.
‰You can visit several different websites to learn how to make a good first impression, including mindtools.com, realsimple.com and even wikihow.com. Or you could just ask Jake Cook, who burst onto the Boyd County baseball scene with a three-run home run, two doubles and a single in the Lions’ home opener against Rowan County. Cook transferred from Greenup County.
‰Sammy Holder has already made his initial impression on the region in fine pitching fashion as he and the Lewis County Lions orchestrated the school’s best season in years in 2012. Holder’s holding true to his ace status. The junior fanned 12 Mason County hitters in 6 1/3 innings in a 4-0 Lions’ win on Friday night.
‰The Shortstop already mentioned 15th Region softball, so how about baseball? Lawrence County (8-0), Johnson Central (5-3) and Paintsville (4-3) could each contend for the title and a trip to Lexington. Bulldogs starting pitchers are sporting a tidy earned run average at the moment — they’ve relented only seven runs.
‰OK, so who should you be envious of this week?
While Ashland temperatures are expected to dip back into the 40s again by mid-week, Vero Beach, Fla., will supply teams such as Greenup County and Boyd County with 80-degree days.
1. Lewis County (4-1)
2. Bath County (5-1)
3. Ashland (2-1)
4. Boyd County (3-2)
5. Greenup County (4-1)
6. East Carter (3-2)
7. Russell (4-3)
1. Boyd County (1-0)
2. Ashland (2-2)
3. East Carter (8-0)
4. Rowan County (4-2)
5. West Carter (2-0)
6. Greenup County (4-2)
7. Russell (0-4)
Former Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander and 2006 NL Cy Young Award winner Bradnon Webb will throw out hte ceremonial first pitch in today’s opener between Arizona and the St. Louis Cardinals at Chase Field
Webb, of course, is a former star pitcher for the Ashland Tomcats and Kentucky.
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AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.