Friday, April 29, 2011

Providence baseball wins share of Southwestern 4A championship

Providence beat East Meck 4-0 on the road Friday to win at least a share of its third straight conference championship. The Panthers (19-2, 12-1 Southwestern 4A), who play at Weddington in a non-conference game today at noon, can win the title outright against Ardrey Kell at home Monday at 7.

Providence is ranked No. 48 in ESPN’s national poll and is No. 2 in the Sweet 16. Ardrey Kell, No. 1 in the Sweet 16, is No. 18 in ESPN’s poll.

Mike Herbert pitched a complete game shutout for the Panthers Friday.

“It feels so good, I’m going to go home and stay up to about 3 a.m., putting together my Ardrey Kell scouting report,” Providence coach Danny Hignight said with a laugh. “Seriously, though, we won our first one in ’05 and went back to back. I remember in ’07 not winning when we had a chance to three-peat. And we didn’t win in ’08 and you start to wonder when you’ll win again. This is special, man, it’s very special.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

North Stanly's Jenna Huff wins "Spirit of Spirit" Award from NCHSAA

Jenna Huff of North Stanly High School is the first recipient of the North Carolina Spirit of Sport Award presented by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

                  The NCHSAA is participating in the  “Spirit of Sport Award” program sponsored by the National Federation of State High School Associations.  It was established to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the positive spirit of sport that represents the core mission of education-based athletics. 

                    The award is given in recognition of a specific act or an activity of longer duration.  Nominees can be a coach, athletic administrator, trainer, student-athlete or any others associated with the school’s athletic program.  Huff will be recognized at the NCHSAA Annual Meeting on May 5 at the Smith Center on the campus of the University of North Carolina.

            Davis Whitfield, NCHSAA commissioner, said, "Jenna's act of selflessness defines what the Spirit of Sport Award represents. She did what was uncommon in the eyes of many by turning her focus to aid a competitor. Her act of compassion taught us all a life lesson that day."

                   Tommy Harkey, athletic director at North Stanly, provided information for the nomination, noting, "This event at the regional cross country meet had spectators clapping, cheering, and crying at the same time." Drew Laucher, the North Stanly cross-country coach, wrote a story about it for the local paper, The Stanly News and Press, which drew additional attention to it.

                  Huff, a cross-country runner for North Stanly, was competing at Dan Nicholas Park in the 2010 2-A Midwest Regional for the right to advance to the state championship. Late in the race she was in 22nd place, trailing Deb Gunther of Cuthbertson by about five meters. Suddenly Gunther screamed in pain and grabbed her hip, almost stopping.

                  Instead of sprinting past Gunther to gain a spot in the standings, Huff slowed down, checked on her and told her, "Come on," gently putting her hand on Gunther's elbow.

                  They shuffled along toward the finish line, and as coach Laucher said, "As they approach the finish line, the crowd catches on. Applause and cheers erupt. Jenna puts Deb in front of her, just as it would have been before Deb's hip gave out. Jenna didn't take that point; it was always Deb's so it stayed Deb's."

                  That in itself is remarkable, but it also had an impact on the meet. It turned out that Cuthbertson and Salisbury tied for first in the regional meet, and ties in cross country means that the performance of the sixth-place finisher is used. Cuthbertson's sixth-place runner: Deb Gunther.

                 As Harkey noted, "Jenna could have passed the Cuthbertson runner, but instead made sure she went across the finish line in front of her, which ended up giving Cuthbertson the victory over Salisbury."

                  Coach Laucher was right when he said, "Cuthbertson won the regional meet that day. Jenna Huff won the crowd."

-- NCHSAA media release

Baseball/Softball Sweet 16s

Softball Sweet 16
Rank    School    Class    Record    Prev.
1.    Alexander Central    4A    19-0    2
2.    Lake Norman    4A    19-1    1
3.    East Rowan    3A    12-1    3
4.    Indian Trail Porter Ridge    4A    12-1    4
5.    West Stanly    2A    15-1    5
6.    Fort Mill Nation Ford    3A    13-1    12
7.    Independence    4A    12-1    13
8.    Forest City Chase    2A    13-2    6
9.    North Mecklenburg    4A    15-3    NR
10.    East Gaston    4A    15-1    8
11.    South Stanly    1A    14-1    7
12.    Boiling Springs Crest    3A    13-3    9
13.    Marvin Ridge    3A    14-3    10
14.    NW Cabarrus    3A    15-5    11
15.    Central Cabarrus    3A    12-5    14
16.    Unionville Piedmont    2A    14-2    16
16.    Waxhaw Cuthbertson    2A    13-4    16
Baseball Sweet 16
Rank    School    Class    Record    Prev.
1.    Ardrey Kell    4A    20-1    2
2.    Providence    4A    13-2    1
3.    Claremont Bunker Hill    2A    20-0    4
4.    West Mecklenburg    4A    14-3    12
5.    East Rutherford    2A    16-1    5
6.    Waxhaw Cuthbertson    2A    17-2    3
7.    Charlotte Catholic    3A    13-3    12
8.    South Caldwell    4A    13-2    6
9.    Mallard Creek    4A    15-5    7
10.    West Stanly    2A    17-3    13
11.    NW Cabarrus    3A    15-5    8
12.    Charlotte Christian    IND    17-6    NR
13.    Belmont South Point    3A    16-1    10
14.    Charlotte Country Day    IND    15-3    15
15.    Butler    4A    13-5    NR
16.    East Lincoln    2A    14-3    14
Note: Records through Friday

Vance football star Ryan Stewart signs with Concord (WV) University

Vance football player Ryan Stewart has signed a full grant-in-aid to Concord University in Athens, West Virginia, his coach, Phil Culicerto, told the Observer.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The 5 Best Girls Basketball Players of All-Time

When I was writing today's Ms. Basketball column on Cierra Burdick, I got to thinking about her place in state history.

Ultimately, I think she's top five, maybe top three.

Here are my first four, as taken from the piece:

"This season, Burdick averaged 23.1 points, 15.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists, five blocks and 4.1 steals. Her team was 31-1. ESPN ranks her No. 3 in the nation in her class and No. 1 at small forward among all senior girls players in America.

"I've seen all the great girls' basketball players the state has produced. Pressed, I'd list them in this order, Konecka Drakeford, Providence Day; Andrea Stinson, North Mecklenburg (I constantly flip Drakeford and Stinson, by the way); Shea Ralph, Fayetteville Sanford; Tiffani Johnson, Garinger.

"That's four players.

"In basketball, you need a fifth for a starting lineup.

"We now have a fifth.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Illegal bats cost South Robeson in title game

South Robeson High had nine baseball bats declared illegal before a game against East Columbus that decided the conference championship this week, the Robesonian reported. 

That left South Robeson with one legal bat for the game, which it lost 11-2.

All the bats were composite, as are all the 216 bats on the list of those that don't meet legal specifications. Rules were changed this season to reduce trampoline effect of composite bats.

South Robeson had used most of the bats all season.

South Point baseball (16-0) clinches Big South title

South Point improved to 16-0 and clinched the Big South 3A title with two weeks to go in the regular season with a 4-2 victory over North Gaston, according to the Gaston Gazette.

Spencer Wiles his two hits, including a home run, and three RBIs for South Point.

Logan Walden improved to 6-0 for South Point, striking out seven. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Providence Day basketball star Sarah Burnick signs with Wingate

Providence Day girls basketball player Sarah Burnick signed with Wingate Thursday.

 “Sarah exemplifies what it means to be a student-athlete at Providence Day
School,” said Chargers coach Josh Springer. “She has been able to excel in the classroom, on the
basketball court, and in the community. Sarah has outstanding leadership
qualities and an insatiable appetite to get better every day on the basketball

Results from ME-GA 7 4A tennis tournament

Results from 4A side of the Mega 7 Conference Tournamet on Wednesday April 13th, at East Gaston.

1st Round Singles
Alex Rutledge (EG) defeated Kevin Vang (WM) 7-6, 1-6, 10-8
Patrick Rhyne (EG) won by forfeit

2nd Round
Sanket Bhadja (O) defeated Alex Rutledge (EG) 6-0, 6-0
Jeremy Funderburke (WM) defeated Patrick Rhyne (EG) 6-3, 6-3

Sanket Bhadja (O) defeated Jeremy Funderburke 7-6, 4-6, 6-1

Doubles 1st Round
Pratik Patel/Kenny Chu (O) defeated Mika Y./Kevin Yang (WM) 6-0, 6-4
Chua A./Denis Martinez (WM) defeated Ho/Quershi (O) 6-4, 6-2

2nd Round
Jordan McCumbee/Jeramie Majchrzak (EG) defeated Patel/Chu (O) 6-4,6-0
Garrett Stone/Jacob Melton (EG) defeated Chua A./Denis Martinez 6-1,6-1

Jordan McCumbee/Jeramie Majchrzak (EG) defeated Garrett Stone/Jacob Melton (EG) 3-6, 6-4,10-8

East Gaston will host a dual state match on May 2, 2011 and will have two doubles teams play in the first round of the regionals at Ardrey Kell on May 6, 2011. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Alexander Central softball pitcher throws back to back perfect games

Alexander Central pitcher Chelsea Wilkinson threw back-to-back perfect games Tuesday and Thursday.

Tuesday, she helped her team to a 4-0 win over Hickory St. Stephens. Thursday, she struck out 15 in a win over R-S Central. Alexander Central (14-0), No. 2 in the Sweet 16, is ranked No. 2 (NFCA) and No. 3 (MaxPreps) in two national polls.

For the season, Wilkinson is 14-0 with 11 shutouts, five no hitters and four perfect games.

Providence Day to hold strike out cancer softball game tonight

Providence Day's softball team will be hosting a “Strike Out” Cancer Game today at 4:30 p.m. against Concord Cannon.

Both teams will be wearing pink in an effort to raise awareness for Breast Cancer. Pink softball shirts will be available for purchase during the game.

“By holding this "Strike Out" Cancer game, I feel our team can help motivate women to take action by spreading awareness,” said Chelsea Balzer, a senior on the Charger softball team.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bandys selects former player as basketball coach

Bandys high has selected former player Mark Story, 43, to be its head basketball coach, the Hickory Daily Record reports.

Story played for legendary Bandys coach Bill Bost from 1982-86.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

N.C. Preps All State basketball teams

Megan Buckland, Bishop McGuinness
Cierra Burdick, Butler
Ariel Bursey, Western Harnett
Danielle Butts, South Central
Jazmine Charles, Central Davidson
Jamie Cherry, West Craven
Samantha Coffer, Northern Guilford
Sidney Cook, South View
Kristen Gaffney, Green Hope
Miranda Jenkins, Eastern Guilford
Zena Lovette, SW Guilford
Courtney Melvin, East Bladen
McKenzie Owen, River Mill
Jada Payne, Hickory
Lindsay Simpson, Franklin

Devince Boykins, East Rutherford
John Cannon, Mountain Heritage
Jacoby Davis, West Charlotte
Reggie Dillard, Dudley
Allerik Freeman, Olympic
Donta Harper, South Central
Ben Jacobs, Princeton
Kennedy Meeks, West Charlotte
Kerrion Moore, Hunter Huss
Jackson Simmons, Smoky Mountain
Addison Spruill, Pender
Anthony Stitt, Butler
Terry Whisnant, Cherryville
Chris Wilson, Terry Sanford
Stilman White, Hoggard

NCAA banning colleges from subscribing to some recruiting websites

According to NBC's College Football Talk blog, the NCAA has banned colleges from subscribing to the popular recruiting website,

The popular website is part of the rivals network.

According to the NBC site, the move comes after some street agents who sell "scouting services" to college for profit got some schools, such as Oregon and LSU, into hot water.

It notes that John Infante, assistant director of compliance at Loyola Marymount, noted on his popular NCAA Bylaw Blog, said the NCAA has banned schools from subscribing to Rivals. The NCAA views it more as a scouting service now than media.

This rule applies to all similar recruiting sites that use paywalls, like and team sites.

The NCAA is now requiring colleges that maintain subscriptions moving forward to report them as secondary violations.

Infante says the reason the NCAA has changed its view is because these recruiting sites offer video of non-scholastic competition not available to the general public; things like 7-on-7 tournaments for football.

Some other reporters, like Bryan Fischer of, say some of the team-specific sites share information with coaches that some of the paying members to a site might not be privy to.

But one thing I found most interesting in Infante's blog post: he advocates boosting the role of non-scholastic activities in the recruiting process beyond the high school coach.

He writes:

"The NCAA should let go of high school athletics as the primary way prospects prepare themselves for intercollegiate competition. The entire of Bylaw 13 should be scrapped and rebuilt, reflecting the new reality that non-scholastic sports have overtaken high school sports in recruiting. This includes rethinking recruiting calendars to the non-scholastic schedule, changing contact rules to counter the influence of third parties, and altering inducement regulations to reflect the payoffs and under the table deals prevalent in club sports.

"And by focusing on non-scholastic sports, the NCAA can become a force to improve them. Preference in recruiting calendars could be given to leagues and organizations that operate according to certain standards. iHoops could spawn a rival to the AAU circuit for talent and development that surpasses it in transparency. And 7-on-7 football could be built in the image of what the NCAA would prefer and what college coaches need, not in image of grassroots organizers and investors."

What do you think?

Monday, April 11, 2011

VIDEO: Ardrey Kell-South Meck softball

WCNC video from Ardrey Kell vs. South Meck softball:

VIDEO: West Meck vs. Catholic baseball

Highlights from WCNC of Friday's Catholic at West Mecklenburg baseball game, which was also a cancer research benefit:

Charlotte Nets 17U AAU team wins Knoxvegas Heat Invitational

The Charlotte Nets 17-and-under AAU team won the third Knoxvegas Heat Invitational tournament last weekend. The tournament featured 32 travel teams from east of the Mississippi to the Atlantic Coast.

The Nets, coached by Kerry Sergeant, finished 7-0 and beat the Garner Road Bulldogs 82-72 in the championship game. The Bulldogs are coached by the brother of New Orleans Hornets forward David West.

The Nets were made up of all Charlotte-area players. The starting lineup included Waddell High's Jarvis Haywood, West Charlotte's Mike Brown, Olympic's Josh Smith, Rocky River's Deandre Bembry and North Meck's Shivaughn Wiggins.

The Nets, who won the N.C. AAU 16-and-under state title last season,  averaged 73 points per game and allowed 58 points.

Two from Huss commit to Lenoir-Rhyne

Hunter Huss seniors Jontavian Hall and and T.J. Wilson, both members of the school's state 3A champion boy's basketball team, have committed to Lenoir-Rhyne, according to the Gaston Gazette.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday's Top Performers

Josh Cochran, West Stanly baseball: 4-for-5 with seven RBIs in 26-1 win over Berry. Cochran hit his seventh home run and now has 34 RBIs this season.
Catherine Doyle, Lincoln Charter girls soccer: 15 saves in 2-2 tie with Pine Lake Prep.
Caitlin Kurtz, Marvin Ridge softball: Threw a perfect game against Monroe Parkwood, striking out eight. She threw 61 pitches, 16 of them first-pitch strikes.
Sarah Kenley, Lincoln Charter softball: 3-for-4 with three runs scored, nine RBIs, two doubles and a home run in 22-2 win over Gaston Christian.
Zack Ruttkamp, North Meck baseball: 3-for-4 with a double, three RBIs and a pitcing win in a 19-3 win over West Charlotte. He eight strikeouts. Teammate Ryder Ryan was 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. Jared Ricketts and Paul Leonard combined for seven RBIs and five hits.
Daniel Stack, Providence Day baseball: 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs in 14-11 win over Charlotte Latin. The Chargers scored seven runs in the second and four in the fifth.
Brianna Wills, Davidson Day girls soccer: Three goals and two assists in 9-0 Grant Hurd, Charlotte Latin lacrosse: eight assists in 16-10 win over Concord Cannon Friday. Teammate Thomas Armstrong had four goals and three assists.
Danny Lucas, Butler lacrosse: Seven goals in 14-2 win over South Meck. He had 16 goals in three games this week, including a game winner against Waxhaw Cuthbertson.
Hannah Eudy, Northwest Cabarrus softball: Six home runs and 17 RBIs for 11-3 team. All three of Northwest’s losses are by one run.
Dominique Wilson, Lake Norman softball: Two home runs, four RBIs in 16-0 win over Mallard Creek Friday.
Tyler Hamilton, Vance football: Tight end and defensive end for regional finalist signed with Catawba Friday.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

South Meck hires former Waddell coach for girls basketball position

Former Waddell girls basketball coach Cristie Mitchell is the new girls coach at South Mecklenburg.

She'll replace longtime coach Troy Gaston, who is out on long-term medical leave. Mitchell will be the fourth coach in Sabres history.

Mitchell started her coaching at Olympic and was at Waddell for 10 seasons. She played for St. Andrews Presbyterian College and was a four-year starter who scored more than 1,000 points and was a two-time all-conference player.

"We at South Meck are very excited to get such an accomplished and dedicated coach," said Sabres athletics director Kevin Hinson. "Cristie has all the skills and leadership we need and she is excited to get the program back on track."

Tad Baucom hired as football coach at Monroe Central Academy

Unionville Piedmont softball coach Tad Baucom has been hired as head football at Monroe Central Academy.

Monroe Central starts its fifth season in the fall. The school is 3-42 in four years.

It'll be Baucom's first head football job in 15 years. He's currently the softball coach at Unionville Piedmont.

Baucom started the varsity program at Topsail High in 1983 and was hired at Monroe in 1985. He coached at Monroe until 1996, running up a 129-71 record with nine winning seasons.

He's been an assistant coach at Piedmont for the past 10 seasons along with coaching the softball team.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

West Meck to host fight against cancer baseball game Friday

West Mecklenburg's baseball game against Charlotte Catholic Friday is for first place in the MEGA 7 and proceeds from the game will benefit an area youth cancer center.

The "Strike Out Cancer" game begins at 4:30 p.m. with the junior varsity games. Players on jayvee and varsity will don special Strike Out Cancer T-shirts. There will be shirts and wrist bands for sale as well as a fish fry/chicken tender dinner for $8 per plate.

Currently, white t-shirts with the logo are being presold and a limited number of shirts will be available for purchase the night of the game for $12.00. If you are interested in obtaining shirts please contact Amy McGee. All proceeds from the event will go to assist children in our area with cancer.

The varsity game starts at 7. Tickets are $5 and are good for both games.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Charlotte Catholic's amazing run of baseball dominance continues against Olympic

Charlotte Catholic shut out Olympic 7-0 to continue a pretty remarkable streak Tuesday night.

After losing 11-5 to South Meck and 5-4 to Southlake Christian to start the season,

Catholic has won 10 straight games -- all by shutout. In the streak, Catholic has outscored opponents 79-0 and scored 10 or more runs five times.

Against Olympic, Alex Jensen was 3-for-4 with a double and a home run. Pitcher Daniel Stewart got the win after striking out six in seven innings of work.

Charlotte Observer players of the week

Chelsea Wilkinson, Alexander Central softball (overall): Junior pitcher went 3-0 last week to improve to 68-3 during her career. That run included 13 strikeouts in 6-1 win against Newton Foard (10-1). Wilkinson threw a three-hitter against Hueytown, the No.1-ranked team in Alabama, in a 4-0 weekend win. She also allowed three hits in a 3-1 win against Riverdale (Tenn), ranked No.8 nationally by ESPN. Wilkinson has more than 800 strikeouts during her career.

Hannah Littlefield, Lake Norman softball: 3-for-4 with a triple and four RBIs in 7-1 win against Hough last week

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