, Corbin, KY

Local Sports

June 16, 2014

Dead period is a good time to think

CORBIN — Today is a big day for myself, and my family, with me getting inducted into the 17th Class of the Kentucky Prep Hall of Fame. But I'm the first to admit, if it weren't for the student-athletes, coaches and teams I've covered, I would have never been able to receive the big honor.

I've been fortunate to cover some of the best players, teams and coaches in the state, and with that said, I'm going to rank the best players and games I've covered since I began my journalism career.

Best Players

1. Becky Abner, North Laurel — Abner is in a league of her own. The former Miss Softball and University of Kentucky softball player is the greatest player I have ever covered. She's the best pitcher I've ever covered, and to be honest, she had all of the tools. She could bat, pitch and field better than anyone during her playing days. It was an honor of mine to be able to cover Abner.

2. Emily Gaines, South Laurel — With Abner being the greatest pitcher I've ever covered, Gaines is the greatest hitter I have ever covered. When South Laurel needed a hit, she always came through for the Lady Cardinals. She was just another top-notch all-around player.

3. Sara Crook, North Laurel — Abner might have been the best pitcher, and Gaines might have been the best hitter, but no one can compare to Crook when it came to the best defensive player I have ever covered. Crook was also solid at the plate and was a downright dangerous player on the basepaths.

4. Helena Hubbard, North Laurel — Whenever you talk to Abner, she'd always be the first person to tell you, to be a good pitcher, you need a good catcher, and Hubbard was that, and then some. I've never seen a catcher so gracefully throw runners out at second with such ease, and then do the same picking off runners at first base. Just like the other three former student-athletes I mentioned, Hubbard was an all-around solid player.

5. Lauren Wombles, South Laurel (tie) — Wombles made everything look so easy. Another great hitter, and just as solid fielding, too.

5. Ali Ray, North Laurel (tie) — I couldn't leave either Wombles or Ray off this list, so I'm putting both on it. Ray was one of the greatest hitters in the state, and could flat-out play solid at shortstop and was an awesome base runner.

Top two games

1. North Laurel vs. Dupont Manual (2000 state championship game) — The Lady Jaguars were in search of their first state championship, and it looked like they were going to accomplish the feat. They had already defeated DuPont Manual earlier in the day, so the Lady Rams would have to beat North Laurel twice to win the state title.

Well, they did just that.

North Laurel fell in the first game, 1-0, and was tied 0-0 in the bottom of the seventh in the second game with two outs, but a routine grounder hit the lip of the grass and bounced over Heather Dufour's head, which scored the game-winning run.

2. North Laurel vs. Owensboro Catholic (2001 state championship game) — It had been a long time coming for the Lady Jaguars. After losing to DuPont Manual in the state title game the year before, North Laurel finally captured its first state championship by defeating the Lady Aces, 2-1.


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