, Corbin, KY

June 12, 2013

I’m back from Owensboro, and it’s time to ramble

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — Another high school fastpitch softball season down and there are a lot of things I need to ramble about.

Yep, I made the venture to Owensboro last week and avoided the hot weather, but once again Mother Nature showed her ugly face and postponed games for about four hours on Friday, but other than the out-of-the-blue thunderstorm that rolled through and got me drenched, everything was fine and dandy.

There are some things I want to touch on about the state tournament being held at Jack Fisher Park, but I’ll get to that in just a few. First off, I want to congratulate the Greenwood Lady Gators, who won the state championship while becoming the first team to finish the season unbeaten during the process.

I’ll be the first to say, Greenwood has it all. The Lady Gators have pitching, hitting, speed, athleticism and good coaching.

You name it, they’ve got it.

The way Penny Reece’s squad had its way with teams such as Lone Oak and Owensboro Catholic, just goes to show you just how good they were this season.

Are they the best softball team I’ve seen at the state tournament?

Nope. The best team I’ve seen play remains the 2000 state runner-up North Laurel Lady Jaguar team. They had a future Miss Softball in Becky Abner and also had the 2000 KY Prep Player of the Year in Sarah Crook and you can’t forget about players such as Helecia Hubbard, Helena Hubbard, Candace Hooker and etc. That team was solid.

Take away a bad hop on a grass infield at Skyview Park (yes, grass infield) over second baseman Heather Dufour’s head and North Laurel could have very well defeated Manual in the state title game.

So with that said, now my thoughts about Jack Fisher Park hosting the tournament. I’ve always enjoyed my stay in Owensboro and have always thought Jack Fisher Park is the correct place to host the state tournament, but I’m not too sure about that any more.

And yes, there are a lot of reasons on why I feel that way.

No.  1 – The Greenwood/South Laurel game didn’t start on time because the ground crew left the string marking the outfield foul line on the field and it wasn’t even marked. The grounds crew did come out and mark the outfield lines, though.

No. 2 – The fields just weren’t in great shape either for a state tournament event.

No. 3 – The biggest concern I have is no safety netting for foul balls that are hit. With four games going on at the same time and so many people in attendance, how can you not have safety nets up to protect fans that have brought young children to the games? Heck to be a little bit more blunt, any fan in general. I saw plenty of balls hit foul going into the opposite direction of the game I was covering and flying into the stands with people facing the opposite direction having no clue what was coming, except being warned with other fans yelling, “heads up.”

No. 4 – Another concern was the holes that were in the temporary fences that were put up for the state tournament. It’s a state tournament, folks, there should be no holes in the temporary fence. I took a picture of one of the holes of the fence (a ball did go through it during a game) and you can see it accompanying this column.

No. 5 – This isn’t an actual concern from me, but I did hear some participating coaches grumble about the conditions at the state tournament along with some media as well.

Those are just some of my concerns, folks. Heck, I didn’t even mention just how far it is for some of the teams and it really needs to be centrally located. I feel bad for the haul the Ashland Kittens had to make. But before I go in a different direction, I do have to give kudos to the grounds crew for getting the fields in playing shape after the big rainfall on Friday.

Now let’s switch tracks again – it’s time to talk about the All-State teams.

First off, congratulations go out to Corbin’s Hannah Hart for being named Class 2A Player of the Year along with being named to Class 2A’s First Team All-State. Hart turned in another solid season for the Lady Redhounds and her winning the Class 2A Player of the Year award is very deserving.

I’m pretty good with all of the selections, except for one – South Laurel senior Amber Hyde’s absence from Class 3A’s All-State First Team. Sure, she made Second Team All-State, but she should have been First Team, no doubt about it. I understand there are a lot of talented players in Class 3A, but I would have found a way to include Hyde as a first teamer.

She led South Laurel with 13 homers, 54 RBIs and batted .449 against some tough competition. She also had 57 hits and 17 doubles and not to mention, she went 3-for-4 with seven RBIs in the 13th Region title game against Corbin and also hit a home run against Montgomery County during last week’s state tournament. If the numbers and feats from the above mentioned aren’t good enough for All-State First Team honors, I don’t know what is.