Monday, June 30, 2008

Eastern Carolina Classic dates announced

As we seek refuge from the summer sun in air-conditioned rooms, here's a thought to keep you cool. The dates for the 2008 Eastern Carolina Classic Christmas high school basketball tournament have been announced by Fike High School Athletic Director John Gay. Fike is this year's host.

Because the holidays (Christmas Day and New Year's Day) fall on Thursdays, the ECC tourney will run Saturday, Dec. 27, take a day off and resume Monday, Dec. 29, and conclude Tuesday, Dec. 30.

The tourney returns to the cozy confines of Fike's gym which means get there very early. Once again, Greene Central is the guest and while I've got nothing but love for the Lady Rams and Rams, it would be nice if the ECC would rotate the fourth team a little bit. I'd love to see Greenfield, Wilson Christian or Community Christian in the mix but I know that will never happen. I remember when the ECC had a different guest each year but that was a long time ago. Maybe one day Greene Central will actually win the tournament.

Here's the schedule:

At Fike High School
Saturday, Dec. 27
5 p.m. — Beddingfield vs. Hunt girls
6:30 p.m. — Greene Central vs. Fike girls
8 p.m. — Greene Central vs. Fike boys

Monday, Dec. 29
6 p.m. — Girls consolation game
7:30 p.m. — Beddingfield vs. Hunt boys

Tuesday, Dec. 30
5 p.m. — Boys consolation game
6:30 p.m. — Girls championship game
8 p.m. — Boys championship game

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Randy on the way

Randy Pridgen, the head athletic trainer at Barton College, spent four days working hard in the hot sun at the US Youth Soccer Region III Tournament with a small staff.

Working for Professional Sports Medicine of Raleigh, Randy and his crew of Barton students Jayme Beacham and Heather Hartsell along with Methodist College's Rachelle Bowman put in some long hours dealing with a plethora of problems incurred by 184 teams in 136 games.

The golf cart carrying Randy must have logged close to a hundred miles during those four days. Certainly enough to have found his way into range of our cameras.

Wilsy voting has begun

The Wilsy Awards voting is underway and off to a good start. At 1:47 a.m. Saturday, I see that several votes have already been cast. Hopefully, the pace will continue through the end of the month and many votes will be cast.

So, remember, you can vote as many days as you'd like but you can vote just once a day.The voting ends July 25 and the winners will be announced online on July 26. The results will be made visible until the last couple of days so as not to spoil the surprise.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bynum gets bad news in Baltimore

This comes a day late but baseball has taken a back to seat to soccer in my brain the past few days.

Unfortunately, Wilson native Freddie Bynum's stint with the Baltimore Orioles has come to an end . Bynum, who played at Beddingfield and later Pitt Community College, was designated for assignment by the American League club on Monday.

Bynum has struggled with injuries throughout his career, especially since coming to Baltimore in a trade from the Chicago Cubs in December, 2006. He suffered a strained hamstring last July, then a hand injury as he was coming back from the hamstring. At the beginning of this season, Bynum had arthroscopic surgery on his knee and didn't get onto the field until May.

Bynum, a shortstop, was hitting below the Mendoza Line (the .200 benchmark named for former Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Mario Mendoza) and that's not going to cut it.

The Orioles have 10 days to decide whether to release Bynum, trade him or put him on waivers. If the club opts for the latter, Bynum will be sent to the minor leagues which isn't the best place to be for a 28-year-old.

Hopefully, Freddie will get another chance at "The Show" before long.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Coaching moves of interest in Nash County

Matt LaWell of the Rocky Mount Telegram reported in Saturday's edition that Nash Central has hired former assistant coach Kevin Crudup as the Bulldogs' new football head coach. Crudup replaces Kenneth Grantham, the school's first football coach who left to take the job at Greene Central, his alma mater.

I guess that ends speculation in some quarters that Nash Central would look southward to find its new coach.

LaWell was a busy man yesterday as he also reported the Bulldogs lost their varsity baseball head coach, Chris Huffman, after one season. Huffman, who is moving to Fayetteville with his family, will be replaced by assistant coach Jeff Mizzelle.

Huffman's wife, Michelle, was the Rocky Mount High School softball coach.

Nash Central hires Crudup

Huffmans leave Nash County schools posts

Soccer Night in Wilson

The constant threat of lightning at Raleigh's WRAL Soccer Complex on Saturday has added 12 more games in Wilson in the US Youth Soccer Southern Regional tournament.

There will be six games starting at 8:40 p.m. at Gillette Athletic Complex and six more at 10 p.m. which will mean 16 hours of soccer in Wilson. Originally, there was to have been 36 games a day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Gillette and 16 quarterfinals matches on Monday. Now it seems there will be 136 matches played here.

The added action Saturday night at Gillette is in the ages 16-under (U16) girls and U16 and U18 boys. Additionally, six U19 girls matches originally scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at WRAL have been moved to Monday at 11:30 a.m. That change will not affect the quarterfinals schedule for Gillette on Monday.

Here's the schedule:

U16G - Columbia United FC U16 Elite (S.C.) v RSL Florida Elite - Gillette #1 - 8:40 p.m.
U16G - Polaris 92 (No. Texas0 v Baton Rouge Soccer Club (La.) - Gillette #2 - 8:40 p.m.
U16G - Vestavia Attack 92 Blue (Ala.) v Hurricane FC 92 Cussen (Okla.) - Gillette #3 - 8:40 p.m.
U16G - Lakeview Lightning 92 (Fla.) v AFC Lightning 92 White (Ga.) - Gillette #4 - 8:40 p.m.
U16G - Arkansas SC Cougars 92 v Gulf Coast United (Miss.) - Gillette #5 - 8:40 p.m.
U16G - Charlotte SC Blue G (N.C.) v Sting Royal 92 (No. Texas) - Gillette #6 - 8:40 p.m.

U16B - HSC Strikers 92 Blue (Ala.) v Solar SC (No. Texas) - Gillette #1 - 10:00 p.m.
U16B - Lonestars 92B Red (So. Texas) v CESA 91 Premier (S.C.) Gillette #2 - 10:00 p.m.
U18B - Columbia United FC Elite 89 (S.C.) v NOSA 90B (La.) - Gillette #3 - 10:00 p.m.
U18B - Alianza Premier (Ga.) v Charlotte SC Blue (N.C.) - Gillette #4 - 10:00 p.m.
U18B - Knoxville FC Crush Arsenal (Tenn.) v Team Boca White (Fla.) - Gillette #5 - 10:00 p.m.
U18B - Solar 90 (No. Texas) v CESA 89 Premier (S.C.) - Gillette #6 - 10:00 p.m.

Friday, June 20, 2008

So far so good at Southern Regionals

After spending two hours at Gillette Athletic Complex on Friday afternoon, I was impressed by two things — the performance level of the players and the folks running the show.

I know I've tooted the horn of Wilson Parks and Recreation Department and the hundreds of volunteers who help out in the past. But it really is worth noting how well-run a big soccer tournament in Wilson is. And while The Brittany Willis Memorial Scholarship Soccer Showcase has become a very big deal for high school boys and girls soccer, the US Youth Soccer Region III championships are a huge deal.

But the feeling at Gillette on Friday, at least by me, was that this was just a very big Brittany. Maybe there were some issues that I wasn't aware of but all seemed to running smoothly. There was ample parking, the crowds were big but dispersed throughout the complex, there was a volunteer seemingly everywhere in case someone needed something and the weather was fine.

Here's to three more great days of soccer in Wilson.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Former Tob injured in Massachusetts car wreck

Former Wilson Tobs pitcher B.J. Dail is in serious condition in Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston following an automobile accident Sunday night, The Cape Cod Times reported on its Web site www.capecodonline.com.

Dail, playing for the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod League this season, was pinned beneath a truck in which he was a passenger. The truck was driven by a Brewster teammate Ryan Woodley. Dail, a rising junior at the University of North Carolina, reportedly has serious injuries to his head and legs.

Woodley, a rising junior at the University of Georgia, has been charged with operating under the influence of alcohol resulting in serious bodily, according to the CCT's Robin Lord. The report also stated that Dail's condition was upgraded from critical Monday night.

Dail, a Raleigh Millbrook High School graduate, led the Tobs last season with a 1.77 earned run average in 56 innings. His 63 strikeouts were also a team high.

CapeCodTimes.com story on B.J. Dail

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Babe Ruth is coming back!

Just as Wilson prepares itself for the invasion of 184 youth soccer teams for the U.S. Youth Soccer Association Region III championships next week, the news arrived Wednesday that the city will host another Babe Ruth World Series — or two.

Mickey Davis of the Wilson County Youth Athletic Association relayed word the organization will host the 2009 Babe Ruth 12-under Softball World Series and the 2010 Babe Ruth Cal Ripken 12U Baseball World Series.

Since 2000, Wilson has hosted six Babe Ruth Leagues, Inc. World Series and the WCYAA has done an outstanding job each time.

The reputation of Wilson as a premier youth sports venue continues to grow.

Area well-represented in Omaha

The College World Series will begin Saturday in Omaha, Neb., with a bit of local flavor in Rosenblatt Stadium.

The North Carolina Tar Heels count on Rob Wooten, a 2003 Charles B. Aycock High School graduate, as a key member of its pitching staff. The Tar Heels also have former Wilson Tob Ryan Graepel starting in the infield.

Also, Cliff Godwin, a 1996 Greene Central High School graduate, is the hitting coach for Louisiana State University. Godwin was a standout player for the Rams and at East Carolina University.

Furthermore, LSU's roster has three players who have signed to play for the Tobs this summer — right-handed pitcher Paul Bertuccini, left-hander Ryan Byrd and infielder-outfielder Chris McGhee.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A sneak peek at the Wilsies

Just as I promised, wilsontimes.com will be the site of a fun venture for area sports fans — The Wilsy Awards. This inaugural campaign is meant as a fun way to look back at the people and events that shaped the last 12 months in area sports community.

I'm going to float the initial list of categories and nominees so that anyone who wants to make an addition can do so now. The final ballot will go up on wilsontimes.com in about a week and fans may vote for their picks at that time. Voting will last about a month and we will announce the winners sometime in July.

Sorry for being so vague about the dates but I'll have more information in a few days. Keep in mind that this contest is all in fun and winners will not receive actual trophies or awards. This contest is all about you, the fan, so make sure you make your opinions heard and your votes count.

Best male athlete: Bobby White, Hunt; Paxton Barnes, Greenfield; Matt Watson, Southern Nash; Terry Davis, Beddingfield; Brian McNair,Greenfield; Jarred Hinton, Greenfield; David Hesmer, Hunt; Brian Leggett, Barton; Errol Frails, Barton; David Gibbons, Fike

Best female athlete: Laura Hanson, Fike; Tramicka James, Fike; Jean Best, Beddingfield; Laura Langley, Southern Nash; Casey Elliott, Beddingfield; Esty Flores, Barton; Jessica Galasso, Barton; Allie Wilkerson, Barton; Meredith Pruden, Fike

Best coach: Toni Varacchi,Fike boys and girls soccer; Donald Clark, Greene Central girls tennis; Luke Vail, Charles B. Aycock girls tennis; Will Flowers, Fike baseball; Rhine Sharp, Community Christian girls soccer; Debra Pegram, Beddingfield girls basketball; Brad Joyner, Southern Nash boys tennis; Ben Forbes, Greenfield girls and boys soccer

Best team: Fike boys soccer; Greenfield boys soccer; Greene Central girls tennis; Fike boys golf; Southern Nash boys tennis; Fike baseball; Beddingfield girls basketball; Community Christian girls soccer

Best game: Fike-Lake Norman in boys soccer 3-A state championship; Fike-Jacksonville in boys soccer 3-A East Regional championship; Fike-Rocky Mount football; Fike-Rocky Mount baseball second meeting (9-8 Fike in 11 innings); Fike-Rocky Mount baseball third meeting (1-0 Fike); Mount Olive-Barton in nationally televised regular-season finale

Most memorable play: Beddingfield-Kinston football: Bruins face fourth down-and-33 yards but fake punt leads to first down and eventual victory; Sound Doctrine Christian Academy's Donte Poole pulls off an eight-point play against Charis Prep's basketball team; Casey Elliott’s four-point play with 1.7 seconds to keeps the Beddingfield girls basketball team undefeated with 70-69 win at Southern Wayne; Barton freshman guard Greg Mammel’s layup just before buzzer beats Mount Olive in men's basketball regular-season finale; Auburn Smith's overtime goal sends Community Christian to the NCISAA 1-A championship game

Wildest finish: Beddingfield beats Hunt in two-overtime football game; Casey Elliott’s four-point play with 1.7 seconds to keeps the Beddingfield girls basketball team undefeated with 70-69 win at Southern Wayne; Aaron Suggs’ buzzer-beat gives Barton men's basketball team a win against Coker; Hunt clips Gray's Creek in 3-A girls soccer playoff after on-field brawl is broken up by parent; Community Christian wins NCISAA 1-A girls soccer state championship on penalty kicks; Fike freshman Leslie Finch belts a three-run home run to cap a five-run seventh inning in the Lady Golden Demons' 5-3 softball victory at SouthWest Edgecombe

Biggest upset: Beddingfield beats Hunt in two-overtime football game; Fike surprises Jacksonville in boys soccer 3-A East Regional final; Barton downs Mount Olive in Conference Carolinas regular-season men's basketball finale in front of national television audience; No. 8-seeded Community Christian runs the table to win the NCISAA 1-A girls soccer state championship; Eastern Wayne topples Beddingfield girls basketball team in Eastern Carolina Conference Tournament championship; Hunt beats Fike in girls soccer for first time in six years

UNC gets verbal from top shooting guard

Several newspapers in the state, including The News and Observer, Winston-Salem Journal and Fayetteville Observer, are reporting the North Carolina men's basketball team received another verbal commitment for its 2009 recruiting class.

Leslie McDonald, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Memphis, Tenn., has reportedly told UNC head coach Roy Williams he wants to be a Tar Heel. McDonald would join 6-10 John Henson of Texas, 6-3 guard Dexter Strickland of New Jersey and 6-9 twins David and Travis Wear of California as UNC commitments.

Tim Stevens of the News and Observer reported that McDonald was named Mr. Basketball in Tennessee and was selected to the Parade All-America team.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Wolfpack club baseball team has outstanding season, too

The N.C. State University baseball team was eliminated from the NCAA playoffs Sunday but it was still a good year for the Wolfpack. But they weren't the only baseball team at State to have a good season.

The NCSU baseball club team recently finished the season ranked No. 4 in the nation by reaching the semifinals of the National Club Baseball Association World Series in Fort Myers, Fla.

The Wolfpack were eliminated by Penn State, which lost to Colorado State in the championship. It was State's fourth appearance in the NCBA World Series.

State did post the best team batting average and slugging percentage in the NCBA World Series, which it reached by winning the South Atlantic Regional Tournament at USA Baseball Complex in Cary.

The club team at State was founded in 1997 and became an NCBA charter member in 2000. There are now 162 club teams in 39 states, with 120 of those teams located at NCAA Division I schools. Those teams compete in 24 conferences spread across eight regions.

I had no idea that college club baseball was this organized but congratulations for a great season are extended to the Wolfpack, including former SouthWest Edgecombe player Patrick Goodwyn and former Charles B. Aycock pitcher Chris Rook, who had a save in the NCBA World Series

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hesmer holding his own in MLS

Time to check on Will Hesmer, the goalkeeper for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

A former Wilson Daily Times Athlete of the Year, Hesmer is tied for third among 15 MLS goalkeepers with at least 300 minutes played with a goals-against per-game average of 1.20. The league leader is the Chicago Fire's Jon Busch with a miniscule 0.67.

Hesmer has recorded three shutouts in 11 games and made 40 saves on 52 shots. This is his third season in the MLS and second with the Crew, but first as a full-time starter.

The Crew was cruising but have run into a mini-slump. Saturday night's 2-0 loss to San Jose was the second straight for Columbus, which is tied with Chicago for second place in the Eastern Division. With 23 points, New England holds a four-point lead on the Crew and the Fire.

Big games loom this week for Columbus, which visits Chicago on Tuesday and on Saturday is the guest of the Kansas City Wizards, Hesmer's former team. Then on Saturday, June 21, the Crew travels to Los Angeles to take on the Galaxy and David Beckham. Then back to Ohio for a meeting with Western Division leader Colorado on June 28.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

No spit! Nygard needs your vote

Justin Nygard, the soon-to-be a 2008 Hunt High School graduate, is up for an impressive award.

Nygard is a finalist in the N.C. STEP "No Spit" All-Star of the Year competition among some of the best high school baseball players in the state who have pledged not to use "spit" tobacco.

The campaign is dedicated to promoting awareness among young people about the dangers of spit tobacco. (I thought the term was "smokeless tobacco" but I guess I'm an old fogey.)

According to the information provided by the Oral Health of America's 2006 Spit Tobacco Report Card, this country received a "D" for the use of spit tobacco.

There are campaigns underway in Kentucky, North and South Carolina.

In any event, it would be cool if Justin (who is currently in third place in the online voting) can win this competition. For those of you who don't know, Justin was one of the top pitchers in Wilson County last spring at Hunt and now is a starter for the Wilson American Legion Post 13 baseball team.

Vote for Justin