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Alexander Central scored three runs in the sixth and then had to hang on to edge Fayetteville Cape Fear 4-3 on Friday night in the first game of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state 4-A softball championship series at Walnut Creek Softball Complex.

The victorious Cougars ran their record to 34-0 while Cape Fear suffered only its second loss against 26 victories.

The two teams were scoreless through three, with Cape Fear coming up with a big double palsy to stifle one Cougar threat, and the Colts scored a run in the fifth to tie the game at 1-1.

But Alexander Central scored a couple of unearned runs in the three-run sixth and then Cape Fear had a dramatic two-out rally in the seventh. The Colts put together three hits and a hit batsman, but wound up leaving the tying and winning runs on base.

Bailey Rhoney was the winning pitcher, improving her record to 17-0, while Mary Williams took the loss.

Bailey Sherrill had two hits for Alexander Central while Natalie Jones had two doubles in three trips for the Colts.

Game two in the best of three series is set for Saturday at 11 am, with a third game if necessary Saturday afternoon. The Raleigh Sports Consortium and Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau serve as host city sponsors for the championship.

Friday, 06 June 2014 11:31

Crawdads Need Extras to Get by West Virginia

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The Hickory Crawdads found yet another way to win Thursday night, as the 'Dads went to extra innings but ultimately extended their winning streak to six games when Joe Jackson drove in the winning run in the 12th for a 7-6 victory over the West Virginia Power.

Jackson not only kept the Hickory winning streak going with his extra frame single, but his own hitting streak as well. Jackson's game winning RBI knock to right pushed his hit streak to 10 straight games, tying the longest streak by a Crawdad this season. The 'Dads 12-inning contest also tied the team's high for this year, joining their April 16th contest against Kannapolis.

The extra inning heroics were necessary because the Crawdads were unable to hold on to a 6-2 lead over the Power in the 8th. Rehabbing reliever Daniel Bard made his debut with the 'Dads, but struggled in his first game action since off-season shoulder surgery. The former North Carolina Tar Heel and Boston Red Sox reliever failed to retire a batter while hitting three men, walking one, and ultimately allowing three runs to cut the score to 6-5.

Hickory turned to All-Star reliever Cody Kendall to try to end the game in regulation, but after getting all three outs in the 8th Kendall couldn't get the final one in the 9th as the Power scored the tying run on a 2-out, bloop single to left for a 7-7 tie.

Both clubs had opportunities early in the extra frames but the game eventually moved to the 12th, when Evan Van Hoosier drew his fourth walk of the night to start the rally. After moving into scoring position at second base on a sacrifice bunt by Michael De Leon, Van Hoosier came around to score the winning run on Jackson's RBI single past the glove of West Virginia first baseman Edwin Espinal for the 'Dads 7-6 victory.

Prior to the late drama, the Crawdads built a sizable early advantage with two runs in the 1st, one in the 2nd, and three in the 3rd to take a 6-2 lead. The 'Dads plated their first two tallies on a RBI sacrifice fly to center by Jackson and throwing error by Power All-Star catcher Reese McGuire to score De Leon and give Hickory a 2-0 lead.

Following a pair of runs by West Virginia in the top of the 2nd to tie the score, the 'Dads answered in the bottom of the frame with a solo home run to right by Kellin Deglan for a 3-2 advantage. The lead grew to its largest point in the third, when Nomar Mazara lofted a 3-run blast to right for a 6-2 score.

Mazara ended the game 2-5 with his eight home run of the season, three RBI, and a double. Jackson finished 1-5 with 2 RBI, Van Hooiser went 0-2 with four walks and three runs scored, and Deglan wound up 1-4 with a long ball and a walk.

The winning pitcher for the Crawdads was left-handed reliever Ryne Slack (5-1) who tossed two scoreless innings with three strikeouts as the 'Dads sixth pitcher of the ballgame. Power hurler Henry Hirsch (0-3) took the loss after allowing the run in the 12th.

The Crawdads (32-27) are now a season-high five games over .500, while the Power (20-39) have lost five straight. The two clubs will meet up again Friday night at 7:00 pm in game two of their four game series.

Appalachian State University head women's basketball coach Darcie Vincent announced the addition of Jessica Jackson as the new assistant basketball coach on Wednesday.

“We are extremely excited about welcoming Jessica to our family," said Vincent. "She comes highly recommended from a variety of people in the women’s basketball community. She has been waiting for an opportunity to take the next step in her career and we are fortunate she found App State to be that place."

"Her energy is contagious and our ladies will benefit tremendously from her knowledge of the game as well as her competitive spirit. Additionally, she was born and raised in Georgia and played for one of the top AAU programs in the state. In fact, our own Katie Mallow played for her dad. Our program and our team just got that much better with the addition of Jessica."

Jackson joins the Mountaineers after spending two seasons as the Director of Operations for the women's basketball team at Kent State.

"I am extremely excited to be joining the App State family and Boone community," said Jackson. "I am very thankful for the opportunity to be able to work for such a successful coach in Coach Vincent as we move to the Sun Belt Conference. I look forward to working with the student-athletes and enhancing their development to becoming the best person and athlete they can be."

During her time with the Golden Flashes, Jackson took care of team travel and community service projects while also acting as the camp director for all day camps and team camps. Jackson also handled all film exchange and equipment as the video coordinator.

Prior to her stint at Kent State, Jackson served on the staff at NC State as a graduate assistant for the Wolfpack beginning for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.

While at NC State, Jackson assisted in day-to-day operations with the basketball offices, coordinated scout team efforts and assisted with women's basketball community service projects, as well as summer camps.

A 2010 graduate of Western Carolina, Jackson is no stranger to the App State basketball program as she was the starting point guard for the Catamounts for two seasons after transferring from South Florida. She served as the team captain and earned Southern Conference All-Academic honors on Western Carolina’s 2009 squad, while also helping her team to a SoCon Championship.

Jackson is a native of Roswell, Ga.

As usual, pitching and defense should be featured as the top fast-pitch softball teams in the state prepare for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state championships this weekend. But there are also a number of players with spectacular offensive statistics in the eight-team field.

For the third year in a row, the Eastern and Western champions in each classification will face off in a best of three championship series at the Walnut Creek Softball Complex. All four of the championships are scheduled for Friday and Saturday. For many years the top four teams advanced to a double-elimination event.

This will mark the 20th annual fast pitch championships and the 40th year for NCHSAA softball. The Raleigh Sports Consortium and the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau are among the host city sponsors.

Class 4-A: This should be a fascinating matchup as Alexander Central (33-0), one of the state’s top softball programs, takes on Fayetteville Cape Fear (26-1) for the championship with the first game an 7 p.m. start Friday night. Alexander Central makes its 12th trip all-time to the state finals and fourth trip to Walnut Creek in the last six seasons.

Alexander Central has been rolling, with 23 wins by 10 or more runs. The Cougars get great play from Kiana Millsaps (.375, 6 HR, 38 RBI and also 17-0 with 0.85 ERA as pitcher).

Haley Cashwell of Cape Fear has been a record-setter, batting an amazing .696 on the season. Earlier this season she set a state mark with hits in 22 consecutive at-bats.

CLASS 4-A: FAYETTEVILLE CAPE FEAR (26-1) vs. ALEXANDER CENTRAL (33-0), Field 4

Friday, June 6: Game 1, 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 7: Game 2, 11 a.m.
Saturday, June 7: Game 3, if necessary, 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, Bunker Hill will go for the 2A state championship in baseball. In the two-out-of-three series, the Bears will take on 25-4 Midway at UNC-Greensboro. Game one is Friday night at 8. Game two is Saturday at 2 with game three, if necessary, game three will be held at 8pm, or 5pm if there is not a game three in the 4A class. Bunker Hill, 26-5 on the season, makes its first baseball championship visit, against the Raiders of Midway, who were the runner ups in the 1-A title last year but also moved up in realignment. Senior Colton Chapman and junior Cameron Chapman do a lot for the Bears, with Colton batting .453 with nine homers while also sporting a 12-1 mound mark with a 1.08 ERA. Midway’s Austin Hardison is batting .426 and Dylan Hardison is unbeaten on the mound at 9-0 with a 0.92 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 45 innings.


CLASS 2-A CHAMPIONSHIP: MIDWAY (25-4) vs. BUNKER HILL (26-5)

Game 1: Friday, June 6, 8 pm
Game 2: Saturday, June 7, 2 pm
Game 3: if necessary, Saturday, June 7 at 8 pm (5 pm if no third game in 4-A)

Alexander County: 6
Lincoln County: 3


Asheville: 14
Hickory: 4

Wednesday, 04 June 2014 21:36

Hickory Crawdads Win Series Against Charleston

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The Hickory Crawdads kept their hot streak going Wednesday afternoon with a 3-1 win over the Charleston RiverDogs, giving the 'Dads their first series sweep of the year while also pushing their season-best win streak to five straight games.

In front of 2,383 fans at L.P. Frans Stadium, the 'Dads took a detour from their recent slugfest wins with a pitcher's duel victory. Hickory relievers Ricardo Rodriguez and Anyelo Leclerc combined to toss five shutout innings from the bullpen, while catcher Joe Jackson drove in all three runs for the 'Dads offense.

Both teams jumped on the board with single runs in the first, with the RiverDogs scoring on a RBI groundout by Aaron Judge before the Crawdads answered with a RBI single from Jackson to tie the score at 1-1.

Starting pitchers Akeem Bostick of the Crawdads and Luis Severino of the RiverDogs would settle into the game after that, with the 1-1 score holding until the 5th. It was in the bottom of the 5th that Jackson came through again, delivering a 2-out, 2-RBI double off the right field wall to give the 'Dads their 3-1 advantage.

Rodriguez (3-1) would hold the 'Dogs at bay for the next four innings en route to earning the win, while Leclerc worked around a pair on 9th inning singles to close out the game and earn his first save of the season. Severino (1-2) took the loss despite having a quality start, with three runs allowed on eight hits over six innings pitched.

Newly added Crawdads reliever and former Boston Red Sox setup man Daniel Bard did not pitch.

Jackson finished the game 2-3 with a double, three RBI and a walk, while Nick Vickerson (2-3, 2 2B, BB, R) and Evan Van Hoosier (2-4, SB, R) also posted multi-hit games.

The Crawdads (31-27) are now a season-high four games over .500, while the RiverDogs (27-32) losing streak extends to seven straight. The 'Dads will remain at home over the weekend and play host to the West Virginia Power for the first time this year. First pitch for game one on Thursday is scheduled for 7:00 pm.

Less than a week after rejoining the Hickory Crawdads from a month-long stint on the DL, center fielder Lewis Brinson emerged as the hero Tuesday night with a RBI sacrifice fly in the 9th to give the 'Dads a walk-off 8-7 win over the Charleston RiverDogs at L.P. Frans Stadium.

The Crawdads entered the 9th in a 7-7 tie after Charleston rallied for two runs in the 8th. Joe Jackson kick started the frame with a one out double to right, which prompted the RiverDogs to intentionally walk Nomar Mazara. 'Dogs reliever Eric Ruth then unintentionally walked Ryan Cordell to load the bases and bring up Brinson. After working the count to 2-1, Brinson flew out deep into the right field corner to easily score Jackson from third and give the 'Dads the win.

The Crawdads trailed early in the game, with the RiverDogs scoring a run on a pair of doubles in the 1st and another tally on a solo home run by Eduardo De Oleo in the top of the 2nd for a 2-0 lead. Ryan Cordell cut the 'Dads deficit in half with a solo homer to left in the bottom of the 2nd, but the 'Dogs came right back with a run in the 3rd for a 3-1 advantage.

Hickory was able to tie up the score in the bottom of the 3rd, when Nick Vickerson crushed a 2-run big fly to left for a 3-3 score. The 'Dads then took the lead with a four-run 5th, highlighted by a RBI double from Jackson and a mammoth 3-run homer to right by Mazara to give the Crawdads a 7-3 advantage.

Charleston chipped away at the deficit over the next three innings, with the RiverDogs scoring twice in the 6th and two more times in the 8th to tie the score and set the stage for the Crawdads 9th inning heroics.

Brinson finished the game 1-3 with a walk and the game-winning RBI, while Mazara went 3-4 with his seventh homer of the year, three RBI, and an intentional walk. Vickerson (1-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, HBP), Cordell (1-4, HR, BB) and Jackson (2-5, 2 2B, RBI, 2 R) all finished with solid nights at the plate as well.

Hickory reliever Cody Kendall (4-2) earned the win with 1.2 scoreless innings pitched down the stretch. Ruth (0-1) took the loss for Charleston after allowing the game winning run over 2.2 total innings on the mound.

The win is the season-best fourth straight victory for the Crawdads (30-27), who have now won six of their last seven contests to move to a season-high three games over .500. The victory also assures the Crawdads of continuing their streak of either winning or splitting series, which now stands at seven straight. The RiverDogs (27-31), meanwhile, are now on a season-worst seven game skid. The 'Dads will go for the three-game sweep over the 'Dogs in the series finale Wednesday morning at 11:00 am.

Hickory: 8
Rutherford: 7

Tuesday, 03 June 2014 22:34

Bard Joins Crawdads on Rehab Assignment

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Former Boston Red Sox and Carolina Tar Heels pitcher Daniel Bard has been added to the Hickory Crawdads roster as part of rehab assignment by the Texas Rangers.

Bard joins the 'Dads from the Rangers facilities in Arizona, where he has been rehabbing from right shoulder surgery in January. RHP Paul Schwendel has been released by the Rangers to make room on the Crawdads roster.

Bard, 28, last pitched in the majors in 2012, going 5-6 with a 6.22 ERA over 59.1 IP with Boston. A 1st round pick by the Red Sox in 2006 after a standout career at the University of North Carolina, Bard debuted in the big leagues in 2009 en route to being named the club's Rookie of the Year.

Bard became a dominant member of the Sox pen in 2010, with a 1.93 ERA, 76 strikeouts and a .176 opponent's average over 74.2 innings. 2011 saw the 6'4" right-hander set a Boston record with 25 consecutive scoreless appearances before finishing with a 3.33 ERA and 74 Ks over 73 innings pitched.

Bard split time between AAA Pawtucket and Boston in 2012 before making only two appearances with the Red Sox in 2013, spending most of the season in the Sox minor league system. The Chicago Cubs claimed the Huston, TX native off waivers in September of 2013, but he never appeared for the club. Bard signed with the Rangers as a free agent in January of 2014.

Mike Sirignano, a seven-year strength-and-conditioning veteran who has spent the past two years helping lead South Carolina to back-to-back 11-win football seasons, has been named director of strength and conditioning at Appalachian State University.

In his role, Sirignano will work primarily with Appalachian State football while overseeing the strength-and-conditioning programs for all 20 of Appalachian’s varsity sports.

Sirignano comes to Appalachian State from South Carolina, where he served as assistant director of football strength and conditioning since 2012. In addition to his work with the Gamecocks’ football program, which went 22-4 and won two New Year’s Day bowl games in his two seasons at USC, he also directed the school’s men’s and women’s track and field strength programs.

His two years at South Carolina followed a brief stint at Elon, where he was the head of football strength of conditioning in January 2012. During his short time at Elon, he oversaw the strength-and-conditioning programs for the Phoenix’s football, volleyball and men’s and women’s golf teams.

Before he made his way to the Carolinas, Sirignano spent his entire career in his native New England, highlighted by two years as the director of strength and conditioning at Rhode Island (2010-12). He oversaw 500-plus student-athletes and two assistant directors at URI while working primarily with the Rams’ football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, women’s soccer, swimming and men’s track and field programs. He also oversaw the design of Rhode Island’s new $2 million, 8,000-square-foot strength and conditioning facility.

Prior to his time at URI, he served as an assistant strength coach at Northeastern (2009-10) and Bryant (2009).

Outside of the college ranks, Sirignano was the president and director of his own company, Next Level ELITE Training Center, from 2007-09 and served as the defensive coordinator/strength and conditioning coach at Woonsocket (R.I.) H.S. in 2008-09.

The list of notable student-athletes that he has trained includes more than 15 football players that have gone on to play in the National Football League and four track-and-field Olympians.

Sirignano played football at Bridgewater (Mass.) State from 2003-06, where he was a two-time NCAA Division III all-American, three-time all-New England honoree and three-time Eastern College Athletic Conference all-star as a defensive lineman. He served as team captain as a senior and also found time to work as a strength-and-conditioning intern at Holy Cross (2006-07) and offseason strength-and-conditioning consultant and volunteer offensive/defensive line coach at Duxbury (Mass.) H.S. (2006).

A 2007 graduate of Bridgewater State (B.S. — physical edication), Sirignano is married to the former Karolina Bakowska.

Sirignano has already begun his duties at Appalachian State. He replaces Kareem Young, who left Appalachian last month to pursue other professional opportunities.