Graduation 2016 marks end of era

My graduation speech to my seniors of 2016
Graduation is upon us again even though it seems like only yesterday that we were just getting the 2015-16 school year started. With this graduation comes the realization that some of my kids that I have followed since junior high will no longer roam the courts and fields of prep sports and that makes me a bit sad.
You see, I got back into the high school sports scene full-time back during the 2010-11 season with newly added responsibilities of covering area prep sports for the News Exchange and this senior class were essentially babes for lack of a better term. They’re my first team to graduate I guess you might say.
I have had the honor and joy of getting to know these athletes, their parents, siblings and even grandparents and I am truly blessed beyond measure on all accounts. However, that makes it harder to let go and watch these young men and women move on to the next step in life.
Some will continue on to play sports at the next level, but most will just say goodbye to coaches and teammates who will forever hold a special place in their hearts and minds.
They will remember all the fun times on the team bus trips, the camaraderie that only can be experienced with others who have the same goals and desires for success of team and love of school, the game and each other.
There will be games and plays that will be forever etched in their minds from their “glory days” that they will reflect upon in the days to come.
I too will remember these athletes, things they said, things they did. I will remember some pretty amazing feats they accomplished on the field of play, some of the games they won and how they won them.
Most of all though, I will just remember each and every person and what a great guy or girl they were on and off the field. I will remember a kind act or a word of encouragement that I experienced or saw someone else experience.
I trust that sports has taught all my “kids” about life because some days you win and some days you lose, but you must never give up, you just keep grinding. You must get up, knock the dust off and go again and again.
And yes, these are my kids because many years ago my family passed through these same situations and circumstances with high school sports and sadly, we one day had to bid all our sports farewell.
Maybe I’m reliving my past through someone else’s child or maybe your child, but one of my main objectives in covering sports is getting to know the players and their families just to let them know that I genuinely care about them, their team, their school and their family.
So it’s a little bittersweet as I watch my former babies walk the aisle to become the graduates of 2016 since I will never again have the opportunity to share the sideline or dugout with them, but I know that they are ready to face tomorrow because they have proven themselves time and again in the face of adversity and opportunity with a winning attitude.
To my Seniors of 2016 I ask you to remember the words of Chuck Swindoll “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
Thanks for your friendship, thanks for your allowing me to follow your exploits on the field of play, but most of all thanks for allowing me to be a small part of your busy life. May God richly bless you all.

East Union’s Sheffield is Division 1-2A Slowpitch Player of the Year

Rebecca Sheffield of East Union was named the Division 1-2A Player of the Year in slowpitch softball.

Rebecca Sheffield of East Union was named the Division 1-2A Player of the Year in slowpitch softball.

Player of the Year Division 1-2A
*Rebecca Sheffield
*CO-MVP McKinley Montgomery
First Team All-Division
East Union
1- Sallie Pannell
2- Kaitie Boatner
3- Tianna Castillo
4- Raelee Bell
Mantachie
1- Holly Maxcy
2- Anna Wagster
3- Emilee Clouse
Baldwyn
1- Jeni Kate Scott
2- Hannah Durham
3- Emily Jenkins
Okolona Honorable Mention
1- Chanda Owens
Second Team All Division
East Union
1- Claudia Hill
2- Hannah White
3- Callie Frazier
4- Kallie Roberts
Mantachie
1- Lynsey Barber
2- Kennedy Jones
Baldwyn
1- Kala King
2- Katie Stevens
3- Corley Hogue

Union County cross country results

East Union boys took first place in the 2015 Union County XC Meet on Thursday at East Union. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

East Union boys took first place in the 2015 Union County XC Meet on Thursday at East Union. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


East Union girls won the 2015 Union County XC title on Thursday. Photo by Dennis Clayton. East Union girls won the 2015 Union County XC title on Thursday. Photo by Dennis Clayton.
BY DENNIS CLAYTON
ELLISTOWN – East Union won first in the Union County Cross Country Meet in boys and girls varsity at East Union on Thursday, edging Myrtle girls and Ingomar boys to take the county title.
Savannah Shirley of West Union won the individual girls varsity race in 22:13 and Jordon Salmon of East Union won the boys individual with his time of 17:51.
Jessica Pickens of Myrtle won the junior high girls race with a time of 25:57 and Micah Fulgham of East Union won the junior high boys in 20:49.
Savannah Shirley of West Union is the 2015 Union County XC Individual Champion. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Savannah Shirley of West Union is the 2015 Union County XC Individual Champion. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


Jordon Salmon of East Union is the 2015 Union County Boys Individual Champion. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Jordon Salmon of East Union is the 2015 Union County Boys Individual Champion. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


Jessica Pickens of Myrtle is the 2015 Union County Junior High Girls Champion.

Jessica Pickens of Myrtle is the 2015 Union County Junior High Girls Champion.


Micah Fulgham of East Union is the 2015 Union County Junior High Boys Champion.

Micah Fulgham of East Union is the 2015 Union County Junior High Boys Champion.


Top finishers in the 2015 Union County Cross Country Meet.

Top finishers in the 2015 Union County Cross Country Meet.

Lady Urchins drop Mooreville from unbeaten ranks

Sallie Pannell hit three home runs including a grand slam against Mooreville. File photo.

Sallie Pannell hit three home runs including a grand slam against Mooreville. File photo.

BY DENNIS CLAYTON
East Union got a bit of redemption on Saturday as the Lady Unchins defeated Mooreville 21-10, handing the Lady Troopers their only defeat of the season. Mooreville had beaten the Lady Urchins 19-9 earlier in the week at East Union.
Sallie Pannell put the Lady Urchins in the lead with her grand slam homer in the first inning. Mooreville came back with three runs in the bottom of the inning to close to 4-3.
The Lady Urchins added two runs in the second inning as Jaley White and Raelee Bell hit RBI doubles to up the lead to 6-3. Mooreville added a run in their at-bat to make the score 6-4.
East Union expanded their lead to 11-4 in the third as Pannell hit her second homer of the day and Kallie Roberts hit her first home run of the season.
The Lady Urchins tacked on three more runs in the fourth inning off Tianna Castillo’s two-run homer and Kaitie Boatner’s RBI sacrifice fly to expand the lead to 14-4. Mooreville scored one run in the bottom of the inning and East Union led 14-5 after four.
The Lady Urchins went to the long ball again in their half of the fifth as Rebecca Sheffield, Callie Frazier and Pannell homered. Pannell’s shot gave her three home runs on the day. Hannah White also hit a two-RBI double to give East Union a commanding 21-5 lead.
Mooreville came back with five runs in their half of the fifth, but East Union took the game in five innings by a 21-10 margin.
East Union had seven home runs on the day led by Pannell’s three while Roberts, Castillo, Sheffield and Frazier had one homer apiece.

East Union 21, Mooreville 10
East Union 425 37 – 21 19 0

Mooreville  310 15 – 10 14 4

   WP: Sallie Pannell. LP: McDonald.   Multiple hits: (EU) Pannell 3, Raelee Bell, Rebecca Sheffield, Tianna Castillo, Callie Frazier, Claudia Hill, Kaitie Boatner, Hannah White; (M) M. Edmonds 3, Cryder, Long, Filgo, Walton. 2B: (EU) Hill, White; (M) Sullivan. HR: (EU) Pannell 3, Sheffield, Castillo, Frazier, Kallie Roberts; (M) Cryder 2, Long 2, Edmonds, McDonald.

SouthernTee’s meet to feature competitive field

Jordon Salmon and his East Union teammates hope to build on last week's successful first place finish at Saltillo as they host the SouthernTee's Challenge. File photo.

Jordon Salmon and his East Union teammates hope to build on last week’s successful first place finish at Saltillo as they host the SouthernTee’s Challenge. File photo.


BY DENNIS CLAYTON
Saturday’s SouthernTee’s Challenge will host a field of 24 teams and should again prove to be extremely competitive in all four varsity races.
East Union is fresh off a big day at the Saltillo Invitational in the 1A-3A boys as they took first with 43 points easily out-distancing second place Potts Camp’s 128 points. Both teams will compete on Saturday and will be joined by three other teams that placed in the top ten at Saltillo, Hickory Flat, Mooreville and Myrtle.
Jarvis Harris of Hickory Flat was first in 1A-3A with East Union’s Jordon Salmon placing second and fellow Urchin Clayton Fulgham finished fourth. Austin King of Water Valley and Zach Rowan of East Union placed in the top nine at Saltillo and will compete on Saturday.
In 1A-3A girls, Mooreville, Myrtle, Hickory Flat, East Union and South Pontotoc finished in the top ten teams at Saltillo and should provide a very competitive field. West Union will be the remaining Union County team to compete on Saturday.
Kendra Sanders and Mycah Sanders of Mooreville finished second and seventh respectively for the Lady Troopers at Saltillo. Gracie Pipkin of Hickory Flat placed eighth and teammate R’Daztiny Harris was tenth. All four should race on Saturday.
Sarah Duley of Easst Union was the top Union County runner on Saturday with her 11th place finish.
Top teams in boys and girls 4A-6A will be perennial powers Saltillo, Oxford, Tupelo, Corinth and Senatobia as all five schools placed in the top ten in both boys and girls competition at Saltillo. Pontotoc from 4A is always a threat in the larger schools as well.
Race schedule for SouthernTee’s Challenge is as follows:
9:00 – 1A-3A Varsity Girls (5K)
9:45 – 4A-6A Varsity Girls (5K)
10:30 – 1A-3A Varsity Boys (5K)
11:15 – 4A-6A Varsity Boys (5K)
12:00 – Junior High Girls (5K)
12:45 – Junior High Boys (5K)
1:30 – Award presentation

Sheffield and Castillo spell double trouble for Baldwyn

Rebecca Sheffield hits a two-run homer in the first. Photo by Dennis Clayton

Rebecca Sheffield hits a two-run homer in the first. Photo by Dennis Clayton


Tianna Castillo follows with a solo homer to left. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Tianna Castillo follows with a solo homer to left. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


BY DENNIS CLAYTON
BALDWYN – Baldwyn got a heavy dose of Rebecca Sheffield and Tianna Castillo on Tuesday as the duo were a force at the plate and in the field as the East Union Lady Urchins defeated the Lady Bearcats 12-2 in five innings of Division 1-2A softball.
The pair went back-to-back with home runs to jump start the Lady Urchins first inning. Raelee Bell led off with a single and Sheffield followed with a two-run shot over the fence in right. Castillo was the next batter up and hit a solo homer to left to put East Union up 3-0. The Lady Urchins batted around, scoring six runs and Baldwyn never recovered. Kaitie Boatner, Sallie Pannell and Hannah White drove in the remaining three runs of the inning for East Union.
East Union score three more runs in the second off Callie Frazier’s RBI single and Kallie Roberts’ two-RBI single.
Sheffield struck again in the East Union third as she ripped a two-RBI double to extend the Lady Urchin lead to 11-0.
Baldwyn scored their two runs off two solo homers that came in the third and fourth innings.
Castillo fittingly drove in the game’s final run on her RBI single in the fifth.
Sheffield made two back-handed stabs of hard-hit Baldwyn grounders and threw out both batters in the second and third innings and Castillo made a diving catch of a sinking liner in the fifth as the pair used their defensive skills to frustrate the Lady Bearcats.
Sheffield went 3-4 with a home run, double and single with four RBIs and two runs scored. Castillo went 3-4 with a home run, two singles, two RBIs and two runs scored.
Bell also went 3-4 with three singles and three runs scored. Frazier, Roberts and White had two hits apiece.
Pannell was the winning pitcher, allowing two runs on six hits with no walks.
East Union is now 2-0 in division.

Lady Urchins go long to sweep twin bill

Sallie Pannell hit a two-run homer and was the winning pitcher for both games. Pannell did not issue any walks in either game. File photo.

Sallie Pannell hit a two-run homer and was the winning pitcher for both games. Pannell did not issue any walks in either game. File photo.


East Union went long on doubleheader opponents Walnut and Wheeler as they hit six home runs, taking the sweep on Monday as they downed Walnut 11-1 in five innings and dropped Wheeler 17-1 in four frames.
The Lady Urchins had 13 hits in the first game of the day against former division foe Walnut, including home runs by Claudia Hill and Rebecca Sheffield.
Hill drove in three runs in the third with her home run. Sheffield led off the fourth with her solo shot.
Sheffield was perfect at the plate, going 4-4 with a homer, two singles and a walk-off double. Sheffield also had three RBIs.
Callie Frazier was also perfect in her three plate appearances with three singles and RBI.
Hill was the other top RBI producer for the day with three.
In the second game, East Union pounded out 16 hits in four innings to drop the Lady Eagles.
Raelee Bell hit two homers to lead the Lady Urchins against Wheeler, with a three-run and solo shot. Sallie Pannell and Tianna Castillo each had two-run homers.
The Lady Urchins used a 10-run second inning to break open a close 3-1 advantage.
Bell went 4-4 with six RBIs to go along with her two homers. She also scored two runs. Castillo, Frazier, Pannell and Kaitie Boatner had two RBIs apiece.
Pannell was the winning pitcher in both games, allowing only two runs and issuing no walks in the contests.
East Union improves to 13-1 on the season and will travel to Okolona for a Division 1-2A game on Thursday.