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Tuesday, 10 June 2014 09:03

Freedom Looking for New Head Football Coach

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Freedom High School head football coach Blair Hardin is leaving the Patriots after one season to take the head coaching position at North Myrtle Beach High School. Hardin went 11-2 in his only season at Freedom, winning the Northwestern Conference championship. Freedom fell in the second round of the state 3A playoffs this season.

A search for a new head football coach begins immediately.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014 07:13

Hickory Crawdads Blow Out Delmarva 15-0

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The Hickory Crawdads took their win streak on the road Monday night and came away with their most lopsided win of the season, as the 'Dads set season highs in both runs and hits as they roughed up the Delmarva Shorebirds 15-0 at Arthur W. Purdue Stadium.

The lopsided victory pushed the Crawdads current winning streak to 10 straight ballgames, tying the franchise record set back in July of 2007. The 15-hit attack saw all 10 of the Hickory hitters reach base safely, while eight of the 10 ended the night with at least one hit. Four different batters had a three-hit night, led by Travis Demeritte who went 3-5 with his South Atlantic League leading 15th home run, a double, two RBI, and three runs scored. Joe Jackson extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a 3-5 night that included a double, three RBI, and two runs scored. Lewis Brinson recorded a 3-4 game with a double and two RBI before being lifted in the 7th. Finally, Luis Marte went 3-5 with three runs scored in his first game played for the 'Dads since April 12th.

Nearly lost in the offensive onslaught was the dominant performance by Crawdads starting pitcher Akeem Bostick, who tossed a season high seven shutout innings while allowing just two hits, no walks, and four strikeouts. Relievers Kevin Pucetas and Jose Valdespina combined to hold down the Shorebirds over the final two innings to complete the 'Dads fourth shutout win of the season.

The game started with two scoreless innings before the 'Dads jumped on Delmarva starting pitcher Luc Rennie for two runs in the 3rd on a 2-RBI double by Jackson. Hickory tacked on another tally in the 4th when Demeritte crushed a solo homer to left, but the 'Dads really pulled away with four runs in the 5th to take a 7-0 lead. Jackson brought home the first run on a RBI single to right, Brinson plated two with a double to right, and Ronald Guzman scored Nomar Mazara on a sacrifice fly to right.

Following two scoreless innings, the 'Dads came through with two more runs on RBI, bases loaded walks to Ryan Cordell and Mazara in the 8th to make the score 9-0. Hickory then finished off the night with six runs in the 9th for the final 15-0 score. The Crawdads sent 11 total batters to the plate in the frame, with Demeritte doubling home a run, Evan Van Hoosier plating a tally with a RBI sacrifice fly, Mazara scoring a man on a RBI single, Jairo Beras recording a RBI on a bases loaded walk, and Guzman recording a 2-RBI double.

Bostick (3-3) earned the win with his best start of the season, while Rennie (2-6) took the loss with seven runs allowed on eight hits over 4.1 innings pitched.

The Crawdads (36-27) will try to set a new franchise win streak record with another victory over the Shorebirds (35-29) Tuesday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 pm.

Wells Fargo, along with the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, today announced the final standings in the Wells Fargo Conference Cup competitions for the 2013-2014 sports year. The Wells Fargo Conference Cup recognizes schools with the best overall interscholastic athletic performances within individual conferences. Wachovia and now Wells Fargo has sponsored the conference awards program since 1980. In most conferences, points are awarded based on participation and standings in conference play. Each conference determines its own method of awarding points.

From our area conferences:

Southern District 7 2-A: The year-long conference frontrunner secured the Conference Cup as Newton-Conover finished the year strong with league titles in men’s tennis, men’s golf, and women’s soccer. Second place belonged to East Lincoln, which finished first in women’s soccer and women’s outdoor track and field. Bandys finished the year in third with second-place performances in baseball and men’s golf. Conference Standings: Newton-Conover 107, East Lincoln 101.5, Bandys 87.5, Maiden 80.5, Bunker Hill 74.5, West Caldwell 66, West Lincoln 61.5, Lincolnton 58.

South Mountain Athletic 2-A/3-A: Shelby secured the Conference Cup with spring titles in men’s golf and men’s outdoor track and field, and a second-place performance in women’s soccer. Kings Mountain was the runner up, finishing first in men’s tennis and second in softball this spring. Crest settled for third with runner-up performances in men’s golf and men’s outdoor track and field. Conference Standings: Shelby 129, Kings Mountain 109, Crest 108, J.C. Draughn 98.5, R-S Central 83, Burns 71.5, East Burke 68.5, East Rutherford 68.5, Chase 50.

North Piedmont 3-A/4-A: Another dominant sport season secured the Conference Cup for Lake Norman, which finished first in men’s tennis, women’s soccer, and women’s outdoor track and field, and second in baseball and men’s outdoor track and field. Mooresville moved up from its previous fourth-place position to finish second, thanks to a top finish in men’s outdoor track and field, and runner-up finishes in men’s tennis and women’s outdoor track and field. Alexander Central holds on to finish third with conference crowns in baseball and softball. Conference Standings: Lake Norman 882.5, Mooresville 697.5, Alexander Central 690, South Iredell 647.5, North Lincoln 595, North Iredell 492.5, West Iredell 452.5, Statesville 432.5.

Northwestern Athletic 3-A/4-A: Watauga reclaimed the top spot in the conference and took the Conference Cup, thanks to spring championships in men’s tennis and men’s and women’s outdoor track and field. Previous conference leader Hickory finished the year in second, finishing second in men’s tennis and men’s golf this spring. South Caldwell moved up one spot to finish third, capturing conference crowns in baseball and softball. Conference Standings: Watauga 200, Hickory 196.5, South Caldwell 189, Freedom 180, St. Stephens 177.5, Fred T. Foard 164.5, Patton 159, Hibriten 150.5.

A record 1,172 student-athletes, spanning each of the SAC’s 12 member schools and 18 championship sports, have qualified for the 2013-14 SAC Commissioner’s Honor Roll. The number of honorees represents an increase of 366 from last year’s list.

To be eligible for inclusion on the SAC Commissioner’s Honor Roll, student-athletes must have competed in a sponsored championship sport and maintained a cumulate GPA of 3.30 or higher throughout the academic year.

“SAC student-athletes are among the most well-rounded individuals on their respective campuses,” said SAC Commissioner Patrick Britz. “I’m extremely proud of the efforts made by our student-athletes and support staff in making 2013-14 a record-breaking year in the classroom.”

Lenoir-Rhyne led the conference with 137 selections to the honor roll, followed by Queens with 133, Wingate with 110, Catawba with 108 and Newberry with 104. Tusculum had 99 honorees, Anderson had 89, Brevard had 88, Coker had 85, Carson-Newman had 79 and Mars Hill had 78 and Lincoln Memorial had 62.

Among the notable honor roll selections were 10 SAC Players of the Year from 2013-14: Queens’ Felix Duchampt (men’s cross country), Wingate’s Keeley Wood (women’s cross country), LMU’s Rand Wasson (men’s golf), Carson-Newman’s Meridith Hawkins (women’s golf), Wingate’s Johanna Neumann (women’s golf), Tusculum’s Lukas Winkelmann (men’s tennis), Queens’ Christina Rustscheff (women’s tennis), Queens’ Jena Ready (women’s lacrosse), Mars Hill’s Travis Riner (men’s track and field), and Mars Hill’s Alexis Montgomery (women’s track and field).

Sunday, 08 June 2014 22:15

Crawdads Win Rain Shortened Game 4-2

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The Hickory Crawdads pushed their winning streak to nine straight games with a little help from mother nature Sunday night, as the 'Dads scored two runs in the 6th shortly before the rain poured down and ended the game with a 4-2 Hickory win over West Virginia.

The Crawdads entered the 6th in a 2-2 tie with the Power, but a RBI fielder's choice by Ryan Cordell and a RBI double from Ronald Guzman gave the 'Dads a 4-2 advantage. Two batters later, Janluis Castro's at-bat was cut short by the rain and tarp pull.

Following a 31-minute rain delay, the game was officially called after six innings to give the Crawdads the victory. The win completes a perfect home stand for Hickory, as the Crawdads won all seven games while sweeping both Charleston and West Virginia. The 'Dads 9-game win streak is now just one away from the franchise record of 10 straight victories from July 17 - 26th in 2007.

Prior to the rain-shortened ending, the Crawdads took a 2-0 lead in the second on back-to-back RBI singles by Guzman and Travis Demeritte to score Nomar Mazara and Cordell. West Virginia responded with back-to-back his of their own in the 4th, but the Power hits came in the form of consecutive solo home runs by Harold Ramirez and Edwin Espinal to tie the game at 2-2.

Joe Jackson started the Hickory rally in the 6th with a single to left, followed immediately by a single to right by Mazara that sent Jackson to third and set up Cordell and Guzman for the game-winning RBIs.

Crawdads starting pitcher Chad Bell (2-0) came away with the complete game victory in the rain shortened contest, as the left-handed hurler held the Power to two runs on four hits, one walk and four strikeouts. Power starter Justin Topa (3-4) took the loss with four runs allowed on six hits, one walk and three strikeouts. West Virginia reliever Henry Hirsch relieved Topa and retired both Demeritte and Jairo Beras before the rain ended the game.

Guzman finished the game 2-3 with a double and two RBI, Demeritte went 1-2 with an RBI and a walk, and Codell ended the night 0-1 with a RBI, a walk, and two runs scored. Jackson also went 1-3 with a run scored to extend his hitting streak to 12 games.

The Crawdads (35-27) will now hit the road to conclude the first half of the season, with three games in Delmarva and four in Lakewood. Game one against the Shorebirds on Monday is scheduled for 7:05 pm.

Sunday, 08 June 2014 22:14

Vickerson Called Up to High-A Myrtle Beach

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Texas Rangers announced today that Hickory Crawdads third baseman Nick Vickerson has been promoted to the High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, becoming the third 'Dad this season to move up to the Rangers High-A affiliate.

Vickerson's move highlights four total player moves involving the Crawdads, with RHP Kelvin Vasquez being placed on the DL while INF Luis Marte is activated from the Disabled List and RHP Jose Valdespina joins the 'Dads from Extended Spring Training.

Vickerson, 24, was leading the South Atlantic League with a .448 OBP and 38 walks, while also batting .299 with four home runs, 13 doubles, 25 RBI, and a team-high 11 stolen bases. A 20th round selection by the Rangers in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Mississippi State, Vickerson was also a key member of the record-breaking 2013 Crawdads as he hit seven home runs with a .366 OBP in 72 games played.

Vasquez, 21, heads to the DL after lasting only two innings in his most recent start for the Crawdads on June 5th. The Dominican Republic native had starred in both the rotation and bullpen for Hickory in 2014, accumulating a 3-1 record, a 4.35 ERA, and 58 strikeouts over 51.2 innings pitched.

Marte, 20, rejoins the Crawdads from the DL, where he had been since April 13th with a broken hand. The 6'1" infielder was off to a hot start over the season's first eight games with a .296 average, one double, and two stolen bases. Marte played 125 games with the 'Dads in 2013, batting .217 with 16 doubles, three home runs, 27 RBI, and 16 stolen bases.

Valdespina, 22, is added to the Hickory roster for the second straight season after going 4-1 with a 5.58 ERA over 15 starts totaling 59.2 innings pitched in 2013.The 6'6" Dominican Republic native was signed by the Rangers as a non-drafted free agent in 2011, before pitching in the Dominican Summer League in 2011 and the short-season Northwest League in 2012.

Vickerson joins former Crawdads Abel De Los Santos and Kevin Torres on the Pelicans roster.

4-Cylinders - Feature
Finish Car No Driver Hometown
1 98P Chase Pollard Taylorsville, NC
2 00G Eddie Gilbert Newton, NC
3 17 Curtis Pardue Hickory, NC
4 09E Matthew Elledge Statesville, NC
5 98 Rob Lewis Morganton, NC
6 6T Rodney Trivette Newton, NC
7 28T Dennis Trivette Newton, NC

Late Model - Feature
Finish Car No Driver Hometown
1 41H Brayton Haws Youngsville, NC
2 75H Landon Huffman Claremont, NC
3 88B Josh Berry Hendersonville, TN
4 25 Matt Piercy Conover, NC
5 12 Austin McDaniel Harrisburg, NC
6 57C Justin Carroll Concord, NC
7 00 Shane Lee Newton, NC
8 01C Jake Crum Statesville, NC
9 28H Chris Hudspeth Ronda, NC
10 41S Dylan Smith Concord, NC
11 9 William Byron Charlotte, NC
12 5H Bret Holmes Munford, AL
13 03S Roddey Sterling, Jr. Charlotte, NC
14 88D Doug Barnes Whiteford, MD
15 8 Chandler LeVan Statesville, NC
16 7 Ashley Huffman Connelly Springs, NC


Limited Late Model - Feature
Finish Car No Driver Hometown
1 18 Casey Pierce Lenoir, NC
2 1 Dylon Wilson Taylorsville, NC
3 9 Charlie Watson Lenoir, NC
4 7S Taylor Stricklin Mount Ulla, NC
5 1B Trent Barnes Whiteford, MD
6 77B Travis Byrd Sherrills Ford, NC
7 51 Jeremy Pelfrey Lenoir, NC
8 11 Dillon Houser Hildebran, NC
9 21 Monty Cox Granite Falls, NC
10 5G Kevin Gilardoni Mooresville,
11 10 Ryan Vasconcellos Sherrills Ford, NC
12 25 Allen Huffman Hickory, NC
13 15F Skylar Felkner Union Bridge, MD
14 43 Greg Wise Candler, NC
15 09 Amber Colvin Mooresville, NC
16 13J Mark Johnson Newton, NC
17 5H Jeff Hagaman Granite Falls, NC DNS


Street Stocks - Feature
Finish Car No Driver Hometown
1 22 Dan Moore Conover, NC
2 64 Marshall Sutton Burnsville, NC
3 03 Kevin Eby Lenior, NC
4 2 Larry Mosher Taylorsville, NC
5 33 Mark Whitten Gastonia, NC
6 16S Jonathon Smith Hudson, NC
7 10T Kevin Townsend Lenoir, NC
8 31 Wayne Edwards Denver, NC
9 21 Kevin Saam Hudson, NC
10 18D Cody DeMarmels Newton, NC
11 16 Carroll McKinney Hildebran, NC
12 14 Samuel Thompson Lenoir, NC
13 77 Chris Cycak Concord, NC


Super Trucks - Feature
Finish Car No Driver Hometown
1 09B Spencer Boyd Concord, NC
2 77 Tal Davidson Mooresville, NC
3 2 Josh Ramsey Hickory, NC
4 7 Whitney Lail Hildebran, NC
5 15H Landon Huffman Claremont, NC
6 9Q Lee Queen Catawba, NC DQ

Sunday, 08 June 2014 22:10

Crawdads Walk Off Again, Win Eighth Straight

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The Hickory Crawdads won their 8th straight ballgame with their third walk-off hit of the home stand Saturday night, as Nomar Mazara doubled home Lewis Brinson in the 9th for an 8-7 win over the West Virginia Power at L.P. Frans Stadium.

In front of 3,313 fans, the Crawdads lost two separate leads of 5-0 and 7-5 to send the game to the bottom of the 9th tied at 7-7. Leadoff batter Evan Van Hoosier reached on a walk to start the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, but was thrown out trying to steal third. Brinson kept the rally going when he was hit by a pitch, bringing Mazara to the plate with two outs. Mazara then lined a ball off the top of the right-center field wall to send Brinson flying around the bases, ultimately ending with Brinson sliding just ahead of the tag at home to give the 'Dads their 8-7 win.

Prior to the late inning chaos, the Crawdads built an early 5-0 lead off of Power starting pitcher Cody Dickson with a run in the 1st, two in the 3rd, and two in the 4th. Van Hoosier kick started the night with a leadoff solo home run to left for a quick 1-0 score. The 'Dads plated two more in the 3rd on a walk to Van Hoosier, a double by Michael De Leon, and a costly throwing error by Dickson. The 4th inning tallies came via a 2-RBI double by Janluis Castro, marking his first extra base hit and RBIs in Hickory.

West Virginia took their first bite out of the Crawdads lead with a run in the 5th, before exploding for four runs on just one hit, four walks, and a hit batter in the 6th to tie the score at 5-5. Rehabbing right-hander Daniel Bard struggled for his second straight outing, with the former Tar Heel and Red Sox reliever allowing four runs on four walks and a hit batsman while recording two outs in the frame.

The deadlocked score didn't last long however, as Ronald Guzman and Travis Demeritte crushed back-to-back solo homers in the bottom of the 6th to shoot the Crawdads back on top 7-5. Guzman's line drive over the center field wall marked his third homer of the season, while Demeritte's monster shot to left-center on the very next pitch pushed his South Atlantic League leading total to 14.

Refusing to quite, the Power scrapped across one run in the 8th on a 2-out, RBI double off of 'Dads reliever Josh McElwee, before once again tying the score with a 2-out, RBI single against Hickory All-Star closer Cody Kendall in the 9th.

Kendall (5-2) earned the win after blowing the save thanks to the Crawdads comeback, with the right-hander allowing one run on three hits and two strikeouts over his one inning pitched. West Virginia reliever Yhonathan Barrios (2-4) took the loss for allowing the game-ending run in the 9th after pitching a scoreless 8th.

Brinson finished the game 0-1, but reached base safely four times with three walks and the pivotal hit-by-pitch in the 9th. Mazara went 1-5 with the game-winning RBI double, Demeritte finished 2-4 with a homer and a double, Guzman ended the night 1-3 with a big fly and a walk, while Van Hoosier had a 1-2 game with a home run, three walks, and two runs scored.

The Crawdads (34-27) will go for their 9th straight victory and second consecutive series sweep in the fourth and final game against the Power (20-41) on Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for 5:00 pm.

Matt Barefoot scattered six hits and struck out eight for Midway as the Raiders downed Bunker Hill 4-2 Saturday night in the third and final game of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state 2-A baseball championship series at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Midway, in the championships for the second straight year, won the series two games to one and Barefoot was named the championship series Most Valuable Player.

In the opening game on Friday night, Austin Hardison had three hits in four at bats and Dylan Hardison went the distance on the mound as Midway rolled past Bunker Hill 10-3. The Bears came back in game two earlier Saturday as Cooper Wray went two for three with three RBI to lead Bunker Hill to a 4-3 decision while Barefoot had two hits for the Raiders.

Midway jumped in front with three runs in the first with some timely hits. Luke Clark, who topped the Raider attack with three hits in four trips, had a run-scoring single, as did Kyle Hawley and Tyler Pope. Cole Ervin, the Bear starting pitcher, did not make it out of the first and was relieved by Colton Chapman, who went the rest of the way.

The Bears sliced it to 3-2 with a pair of runs in the third without a hit, stringing together a hit batsman, error, fielders choice, stolen base, a couple of walks and a wild pitch. Midway made it 4-2 in the sixth when Cody Baker delivered an RBI single.

In the seventh, Bunker Hill brought the tying run to the plate after a single by Chapman, his second hit of the night and fourth time he reached base, but Barefoot struck out the next two hitters to preserve the win.

Ervin had a single and a double in three at bats for the Bears.

The Raiders completed the year 27-5, while Bunker Hill, in its first trip to the championship series, wound up 27-7.

This is the 98th year for baseball championships in the NCHSAA.

Appalachian State University’s football video staff and the Appalachian IMG Sports Network video crew have both recently earned national accolades for their work in 2013-14.

Led by football video coordinator Jake Stroot, Appalachian State’s football video staff was awarded the Ultimate SAVVY Award by the Collegiate Sports Video Association (CSVA) in Houston on May 22. The Ultimate SAVVY Award recognizes the organization’s best video of the year, which Stroot’s staff claimed for its 2014 football recruiting video. Appalachian also placed third nationally behind Navy and Army for best highlight video and was a finalist for the motivational SAVVY, which was won by Boise State.

Led by director of video operations John Lassiter, the Appalachian IMG Sports Network earned two honorable-mention recognitions from the Sports Video Group and National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics for the 2014 College Sports Media Awards. The Appalachian IMG Sports Network was acknowledged in the best program series category for Always Attack: Inside App State Football and in the best live game and event production category for the App State TV broadcast of Appalachian State’s 14-6 win over Davidson on April 25.

“These are well-deserved honors for Jake, John and their staffs,” Appalachian State director of athletics Charlie Cobb said. “Everyone that contributes to the video operations in our department are very good at what they do and put a lot of pride in their work. It is great to see them recognized by their peers nationwide for their talent and efforts.”