Bearcats blank the Urchins

Thomas Moore runs for the sideline with a Baldwyn defender in hot pursuit. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Thomas Moore runs for the sideline with a Baldwyn defender in hot pursuit. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


BY DENNIS CLAYTON
ELLISTOWN – Baldwyn features a lot of team speed and East Union received a full dose of it on Friday as the Bearcats shutout the Urchins 61-0 in Division 1-2A football action.
“We’ve got to get healthy and we’re not going to unfortunately,” East Union coach Scott Duley said. “Our leading tackler was out tonight and we certainly saw the effects of that on the scoreboard, we didn’t play well. We just had a real lack of effort after about the first two series of offense and defense. We do have kids that are out here playing banged up, but I was very disappointed in the effort and I told them that. I hope that we’ll learn within the next two weeks how to give great effort because that’s all I’m looking for is great effort.”
Baldwyn scored 27 seconds into the contest as Laquientez Upshaw ran through the East Union defense and scored from 56 yards out. The kick failed and Baldwyn led 6-0.
The Bearcats added two more rushing touchdowns in the quarter as Marquavious Patterson and Jordan Johnson scored. A turnover really hurt the Urchins as Brison Randolph scooped up the loose football in the East Union backfield and rambled 41 yards for the score and Baldwyn led 27-0 after one quarter.
The Baldwyn offensive fireworks continued in the second quarter as quarterback Jacob Turner connected on touchdown passes to Matthew Gates and Chris Billups within the span of 39 seconds.
Duke Upshaw ran 21 yards for the next score and later returned his interception of an East Union pass 60 yards for the final touchdown of the half. Baldwyn led 54-0 at halftime.
Baldwyn’s final score came on a one yard run by Jalon Clark in the fourth quarter.
Mantachie will be next for East Union on the schedule as the Urchins travel there on Thursday.
“They’re going to be well-coached, they’re going to be prepared and we’re going to get some people back this week,” Duley said. “Lucas Wigington and Jesse Keller will come back and that will help our defense a lot. It is a winnable game, but it’s only a winnable game if we give great effort.”
East Union is now 3-5 (0-3) on the season with two games remaining. East Union could still make the playoffs if they defeat Mantachie and Hatley.

Ingomar swept out of playoffs by Smithville

Gara Beth Self slides home with Ingomar's first run in game two against Smithville. Self doubled and scored on Maggie Smithey's double. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Gara Beth Self slides home with Ingomar’s first run in game two against Smithville. Self doubled and scored on Maggie Smithey’s double. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


BY DENNIS CLAYTON
INGOMAR – Ingomar saw their first trip to the 1A slow pitch softball playoffs come to an end in the opening round as Smithville took the series 2-0 and eliminated the Lady Falcons. Ingomar lost 11-8 and 14-4 to the Lady Seminoles on Thursday.
Ingomar had 12 hits in game one and 11 hits in game two, but just couldn’t score enough to keep pace with Smithville.
“We had our chances in the first game and a couple of big defensive mistakes probably kept us from winning the first game, I thought,” Ingomar coach Andy Wilbanks said. “Offensively we had bases loaded and hit into a ground ball double play with no outs that hurt offensively. I walked away from game one as as proud as I could be with a loss, I guess. Game two just got away from us pretty quick.”
Smithville jumped in front 3-0 before Ingomar picked up a bat in the first inning. Ingomar came back in the bottom of the inning to close the score to 3-2 as Maggie Smithey walked and Lauren Thompson homered over the left field fence.
Smithville stretched the lead to 6-2 in the top of the third, but Ingomar came back with three runs as Gara Beth Self, Smithey and Thompson scored and the score stood at 7-5 after three.
Smithville added two runs in the fourth and fifth innings to lead 11-5. Ingomar looked to be poised to rally and make the game close as they hit four consecutive singles with no outs. The double play was the friend of Smithville as the Ingomar could only manage two runs to close the score to 11-7.
Ingomar picked up their final run in the seventh as Self tripled and was driven in by Smithey.
Smithville took the first inning lead in game two, going up 2-0. Ingomar came back with three runs in the top of the third and briefly take the lead at 3-2. Ingomar and Smithville switched at-bats in game two with Ingomar batting as the guest and Smithville as home.
However, Smithville scored four runs in the bottom of the third to regain the lead at 6-3.
Ingomar picked up four hits in the fourth, but managed only one run as two fielders choice grounders erased base runners. Smithville came back in the bottom of the inning with five runs and added three more in the fifth to take the game and the series.
“I felt like we were in game two for three innings,” Wilbanks said. “After that, it was pretty ugly. Smithville is a good team, they’re the best team that we’ve played all year. We came here to win and it didn’t happen.”
Ingomar is loaded with underclassmen which shows much promise for the future, but very little playoff experience.
“Erin Wall is probably the only player on the team with playoff experience,” Wilbanks said. “The good thing about it is we won our division and made the playoffs. I’m proud of what they (Ingomar) did this year and there were a lot of positives to take away from this year. You couldn’t ask for any better kids to coach. We’ve just got to grow up a little bit and get better and I think we will.”
Lauren Thompson is greeted by her Lady Falcon teammates following her home run in the first inning of game one. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Lauren Thompson is greeted by her Lady Falcon teammates following her home run in the first inning of game one. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

East Union hosts athletic Baldwyn team on Friday

Jesse Keller and Thomas Moore chase the Walnut quarterback out of the pocket. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Jesse Keller and Thomas Moore chase the Walnut quarterback out of the pocket. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


BY DENNIS CLAYTON
East Union moves from a Walnut opponent with a couple of swift and deceptive skill players to and will host a Baldwyn team that boasts several offensive weapons.
“Baldwyn’s got several young men like Mr. Upshaw (Duke Upshaw, averaging 156.7 all purpose yards per game) and you can’t devote all your resources to him,” East Union coach Scott Duley said. “There’s plenty they can do to make you pay for it if you do devote too much to him. They want to get to the edge, they’re not going to want to run between the tackles.”
Baldwyn comes into the game averaging 247 yards rushing and 122 yards passing.
Leading rushers for the Bearcats are Duke Upshaw with 633 yards on 53 carries for nine touchdowns. Laquintez Upshaw is another threat with 590 yards on 84 carries and six touchdowns.
Jacob Turner, the Baldwyn quarterback, comes in 53-90 passing for 774 yards and seven touchdowns. Turner’s leading target is Matthew Gates with 16 catches for 277 yards and one touchdown.
East Union will counter the Baldwyn offense with linebacker Jesse Keller, who leads the Urchins with 119 tackles and is averaging 17.0 tackles per game. Keller had 24 tackles against Walnut with 18 being solo tackles.
They (Baldwyn) are very athletic and we’ve got to try to put our young men in a position to be able to make those plays, gang tackle and move to the ball well,” Duley said. “We need to try to understand pre-snap what they are about to do.
Baldwyn will feature yet another dangerous return man for the urchin special teams to face after seeing Armani Linton of Walnut last week.
“Nobody wants to kick it to them,” Duley said. “They’ve got quite a bit of speed as well. Walnut and Baldwyn are similar in several ways. Walnut was probably bigger in their line and Baldwyn is probably faster.”
The Baldwyn defense will work out of either a 4-3 or 4-4 scheme according to Duley. The Bearcats will play some zone pass coverage as well as man to man.
“We need to play consistently hard from snap to snap,” Duley said. “Baldwyn is a very talented team and we need to play hard on every play.”

Castillo and Sheffield lead Lady Urchins to series win

Jaley White makes the dirt fly as she slides safely into home on Tuesday. White had two singles in the game. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Jaley White makes the dirt fly as she slides safely into home on Tuesday. White had two singles in the game. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


BY DENNIS CLAYTON
ELLISTOWN – Tianna Castillo and Rebecca Sheffield pounded out five hits apiece in two games, to lead the East Union Lady Urchins to a first round sweep of Hollandale Simmons on Tuesday.
Sheffield finished the day with a home run, three doubles and a single, driving in 10 runs and scoring seven runs. Castillo had four doubles and a single, seven RBIs and five runs scored.
“You just hope that you can get hot here right now and if you can get hot right now, you’ve got a chance (in playoffs),” East Union coach Josh Blythe said. “The field conditions weren’t great and we were fortunate to get it (series) in. The second game was much cleaner than the first game (for East Union).”
East Union totaled 14 hits in the opening game to win 14-4 in five innings. Callie Frazier had the big blast in the game with her two run homer in the fourth inning.
East Union scored two runs in the first inning, but Hollandale Simmons tied it in the top of the second at 2-2.
East Union scored four runs in the bottom of the second as Kaitie Boatner hit a RBI double and later scored on Sheffield’s two RBI double. Castillo drove in Sheffield to put East Union out to a 6-2 lead.
East Union held a narrow 7-4 lead going into the bottom of the fourth but exploded with seven runs to stretch the lead to 14-4 to take the win.
Claudia Hill, Jaley White and Hannah White joined Sheffield and Castillo in the multiple hits department.
Hannah White and Sheffield had two doubles while Boatner and Sheffield had a double apiece.
Game two saw East Union jump out to a 10-0 lead after one and cruise to a 21-5 win.
Sheffield hit a two run homer to give the Lady Urchins the early 2-0 lead. Claudia Hill blasted a two run home run of her own in the first to extend the East Union lead.
East Union scored 11 runs in the third to seal the win in three innings.
Sheffield, Castillo and Frazier had three hits to lead the Lady Urchins while Hill and Raelee Bell had two hits.
Extra base hits were the homers by Sheffield and Hill, with Castillo (2), Sheffield, Frazier, Bell and Kallie Roberts all collecting doubles.
Sallie Pannell was the winning pitcher in both games. East Union will travel to Mantachie on Saturday to play in the second round of the 2A playoffs.
“We’ve got Mantachie now and I look for that to be a challenge for us,” Blythe said. “We going to go over there and give it our best shot.”

Linton leads Walnut over Urchins

John Isaac Roberts makes the catch for East Union on the 35 yard pass play from Zane Wilkinson. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

John Isaac Roberts makes the catch for East Union on the 35 yard pass play from Zane Wilkinson. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


BY DENNIS CLAYTON
WALNUT – Armani Linton shook off the effects of an early first quarter injury and led his Walnut Wildcats to a 35-14 division win over East Union on Friday. Linton gained 170 yards on the ground and scored three rushing touchdowns for Walnut.
“I hate to keep saying it, but we’ve got 11 starters out and we’ve got 16 kids that started the season that aren’t playing anymore and it’s almost all exclusively injuries,” East Union coach Scott Duley said. “It’s an uphill battle, but they fight and I was very proud of their effort, especially in the second half. When you face someone like Linton, you’ve got to have speed on the edges and if you don’t, you’re going to take a few lumps.”
East Union couldn’t get their offense untracked in the first quarter, going three and out on all three series. Walnut scored on their opening possession, going 60 yards in five plays. The Wildcats scored on a 43-yards pass from Will Quinn to Antwan Guthrie with 7:38 remaining in the quarter. Linton ran in the two point attempt and Walnut led 8-0.
East Union was able to hold the Wildcats scoreless through the remainder of the quarter and Walnut led 8-0 after a quarter.
Linton found the end zone twice in the second quarter, making runs of six and three yards to score. Walnut’s other score came on a Quinn to Monterio Hunt pass of seven yards to extend the Walnut lead to 28-0, which the Wildcats took into the half.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, Walnut drove to the East Union two, but the Urchin defense held and the Wildcats turned the ball over on downs.
East Union finally got on the scoreboard with 8:53 left in the game as they drove 59 yards in five plays. Zane Wilkinson hit two key passes during the drive, the first was a 14-yard completion to Thomas Moore and the second was a 35 yard catch and run by John Isaac Roberts. Roberts broke several tackles before Walnut was able to bring him down at the 10-yard line.
Jamie McCullough ran the ball in from the seven and East Union cut the lead to 28-6. The PAT was unsuccessful.
Walnut wasted little time getting the touchdown back as Linton scored on a 63-yard scamper with 8:25 remaining. Shawn Thornton added the PAT and Walnut led 35-6.
East Union drove 80 yards in six plays to score their final touchdown. Wilkinson again hit on two key passes on the drive, the biggest coming on a 60-yard pass to McCullough. Plunk scored from the 2 yard line and added the run for two.
Wilkinson was 7-19 passing for 123 yards to lead the Urchin offense. McCullough had three receptions for 69 yards. East Union fell to 3-4 on the season, 0-2 in division. East Union returns home next Friday to host Baldwyn.
“It’s good to play Walnut before you play Baldwyn because it’s good for them to see that speed.” Duley said. “Our kids are always beat up and half injured after games because they play so hard. We’ve got a couple of days to get better and then we’ve got to get back at it.”
Jamie McCullough is tackled by a host of Walnut players after a short gain. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Jamie McCullough is tackled by a host of Walnut players after a short gain. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Myrtle blanks Tupelo on senior night

Heather Smith watches her solo home run clear the fence in the fifth inning on Thursday. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Heather Smith watches her solo home run clear the fence in the fifth inning on Thursday. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


BY DENNIS CLAYTON
MYRTLE – Myrtle used a big first inning outburst to take the early lead and coast to a 10-0 win over Tupelo in five innings. The Lady Hawks batted around and scored six runs in the first to take a commanding 6-0 lead.
“I thought we hit the ball extremely well tonight,” Myrtle coach Marty Cook said. “Everybody one through ten did a great job. I was really proud to see Heather (Smith) finally center one up and hit it out. She’s been working hard all year and it’s finally paying off.”
Myrtle picked up three consecutive singles to start the first, with Callie Denton driving in the first run on her hit. Smith drove in the second run on a sacrifice fly to left.
The Lady Hawks loaded the bases with two outs and senior Kellan Tanner blasted a triple down the right field line to score all three base runners and put Myrtle up 5-0. Megan Lowery singled and drove in Tanner before Tupelo could get the final out in the inning.
Myrtle scored three runs in the third inning as Lowery drove in another run to increase the lead to 7-0. Amber Cook and Kristen Young followed with RBI singles to stretch the Lady Hawk lead to 9-0.
Smith supplied the fireworks of the day in the fourth as she ripped a solo home run over the left center fence with one out. That put Myrtle up 10-0 and the Lady Hawks set Tupelo down in order in the fifth to clinch the win.
Myrtle had four seniors playing their final regular season game on Thursday, Ashton Hogue, Lauren Coggin, Haley Matkins and Tanner.
“These seniors have meant a great deal to our softball program, Cook said. “Kellan and Haley have come in and done a great job this year. Ashton and Lauren have been starting for about three or four years.”
Cook, Young and Lowery had two hits apiece while Tanner’s triple and Smith’s homer were the extra-base hits for the Lady Hawks. Smith was the winning pitcher.
Myrtle moves on to the first round of playoffs and will travel to Hamilton on Tuesday.
“We are going to spend the next several days preparing for them,” Cook said. “We will definitely have to play at the top of our game to compete with them. That’s why I play the bigger schools on our regular season schedule, to prepare for teams like Hamilton.”
Kellan Tanner heads for third with her stand-up triple in the first inning. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Kellan Tanner heads for third with her stand-up triple in the first inning. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


Heather Smith is greeted at home by her teammates following her solo home run against Tupelo. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Heather Smith is greeted at home by her teammates following her solo home run against Tupelo. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


Four seniors were recognized on Thursday at Myrtle, standing from left: Head Coach Marty Cook, Lauren Coggin, Ashton Hogue, Kellan Tanner, Haley Matkins and Assistant Coach Kelly Robbins. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Four seniors were recognized on Thursday at Myrtle, standing from left: Head Coach Marty Cook, Lauren Coggin, Ashton Hogue, Kellan Tanner, Haley Matkins and Assistant Coach Kelly Robbins. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Urchins hit the road for next division contest

Lane Plunk goes high to catch this Zane Wilkinson pass against New Site. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Lane Plunk goes high to catch this Zane Wilkinson pass against New Site. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


BY DENNIS CLAYTON
East Union will travel to Walnut on Friday in their next division game to play the 6-1 Wildcats. Walnut opened division play with a convincing 49-6 win over Hatley.
“Armani Linton is a very good player, but to be honest, they’ve got another player (Monterio Hunt) who is a sophomore who is probably as good as him,” East Union coach Scott Duley said. “He is an excellent player and he’s very aggressive. Walnut is fast and they do a good job offensively of playing to their strengths.”
“Defensively they will play a “cover zero” and so they load the box, Duley said. “It is kind of like New Site from last week, but probably a lot more athletic than New Site was on the edges. You’re looking at needing to complete some passes to spread them out to have success against them offensively.”
East Union plans to use some of the same schemes that they used against New Site offensively.
“When they (Walnut) are on offense, they are going to try to use their speed or they will load the box and run right at you,” Duley said. “They’re good at both. They’re physical and well-coached, they’re fast and I would say they are better than they were last year.”
East Union was led offensively against New Site by Lane Plunk’s four touchdowns. Plunk had six receptions for 122 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed twice for 72 yards and a touchdown and returned a kickoff 75 yards for his other score.
Kedrick Storey of the Southern Sentinel reported these offensive totals for Walnut in Wednesday’s paper: Hunt had nine carries for 220 yards and four touchdowns. Linton added 186 yards rushing for two touchdowns and three catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns.
Walnut is led by quarterback Will Quinn who was 5 of 6 passing for 131 yards. Walnut had 509 yards total offense according to Storey.
Linton and Hunt also are key players on the defensive side of the ball for the Wildcats as well. Linton plays linebacker and Hunt is a starting cornerback for the Wildcats.
“Zane (Wilkinson) is getting much more comfortable throwing the ball,” Duley said. “We had to make that change two weeks into the season. He is getting a lot more comfortable running the offense and he’s doing a good job.”
Wilkinson was 10 of 19 passing for 146 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a pass for 22 yards. Jamie McCullough was the leading rusher with 76 yards and a touchdown.
“Through all the injuries and all of the adversity that we’ve had this year, all of the boys have responded well,” Duley said. “I thought Friday was the best game that they’ve played as a team and I’m very proud of them for that.”
East Union is 3-3 (0-1) on the season. Kickoff is at 7:00.