TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

July 26, 2013

Lots of baseball talent heading Knox and North Laurel’s way


TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

CORBIN — There seems to be a rise in baseball talent in the Tri-County.

It goes back to South London’s run at a Little League state crown a few years back, and it is continuing now with the Knox County and North Laurel Little League systems.

At the time I’m writing this, the Knox County 11-12 year-olds and North Laurel’s 11 year-olds are in their respective state tournament’s Final Fours — that’s impressive itself.

But add to the fact Knox County won the state championship at the 11- year-old level last season and North Laurel’s Senior League All-Stars just captured the Senior League state championship, both Knox Central High School  baseball head coach Brandon Hillard and North Laurel High School baseball head coach Darren McWhorter should have some very, very talented teams in the near-future.

McWhorter’s Jaguars are coming off a 13th Region championship and a state tournament berth while Hillard’s Panthers are young, but very talented.

Yep, it looks as if the 13th Region is going to be stacked with some talented teams in the near future, and if you’re a baseball fan, you should be very excited.

• Making a trip to Prestonsburg’s Stonecrest Park has turned into a routine thing for me it seems this week, and it’s been a very nice drive. The scenery along the way has been enjoyable, and once I get on top of the mountain to reach my destination at Stonecrest Park, I’ve enjoyed my stay there, too.

Now I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a fan for centrally locating state tournament venues, so everyone doesn’t have to drive a long way, and when I first stepped into my car to make the trip to Prestonsburg, I wasn’t looking forward to it.

But once I stepped into the Stonecrest Park Little League Complex, I was surprised.

Yep folks, it’s the best Little League venue I’ve been to — hands down.

The fields were in excellent shape and the scoreboards were top-notch and actually had each team’s pitch count tallied on the scoreboard. You couldn’t ask for a better place to host a state tournament, and now I know why they get to host the event.

• If you’re a Cincinnati Bengal fan, the wait is over. Yep, training camp begins today at the Paul Brown Stadium practice field from 3 p.m. to 5.p.m. If you’re a fan of the Bengals, you should go. The gates open at 2 p.m.

Why am I so excited about the Bengals this season? Well, they are coming off their second straight playoff appearance, which hadn’t happened in 20-plus years, and they’re a lot of expectations this season for Marvin Lewis’ team. The Bengals have been rated as high as the sixth-best team in some pre-season previews and that’s pretty good for a team that has the longest playoff drought without a win in the NFL.

Can they win a playoff game this season? I hope, but it’s going to come down to the play of quarterback Andy Dalton. If he has improved, the sky is the limit for Cincinnati. The weapons are in place on offense, now it’s time for Dalton to take advantage of them. Add a much-improved Dalton to a defense that is one of, if not the best, in the league and Cincinnati could be making a lot of noise this season.

• If you’re an Atlanta Braves fan, then you know about pitcher Tim Hudson’s broken ankle. Usually Atlanta fans begin to suffer once the fall winds begin to blow in October. Well this year, I’m afraid Hudson’s injury is going to begin the suffering a little sooner than I thought.

• Be sure to check out our weekend edition. Staff writer Chris Parsons’ feature on Corbin’s Campbell Field is a good one. The feature is the first of a seven-part series on each respective Tri-County high school’s football field. Chris has done a fantastic job with each he has written.

Also due to deadline, the game stories of both the 11-year-old state title game and the 11-12-year-old state title game will appear in Monday’s edition of the Times-Tribune.