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.

High flying Eagles down Blue Mountain

Andrew Childers scored 16 points in the second half for the Eagles on Tuesday. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Andrew Childers scored 16 points in the second half for the Eagles on Tuesday. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


HICKORY FLAT – West Union staged a major second half comeback and won their opening round game in the Division 2-1A Tournament against Blue Mountain 60-52. The Eagles got 16 points from Andrew Childers to help rally the Eagles from a five point deficit at the half.
The fourth quarter saw seven lead changes and West Union took the lead for good at 53-52 with about three minutes remaining.
Childers, Dillon Clayton and Adam Grubbs scored critical points, most of them coming from the free throw line for the Eagles in the closing minute to seal the win.
Hayden Basil and Bobby High provided the offense during the first half as they combined for 15 of the Eagles 23 points.
Basil led the Eagles with his 20 points. Childers had 18 and High finished with 11 points.
West Union advances to face the number one seed, Ashland on Thursday night at 7:45.
Hayden Basil had a big night for the Eagles with his 20 points.

Hayden Basil had a big night for the Eagles with his 20 points.

Lady Hawks rout Falkner in division tournament opener

Amber Cook connects on the three for the Lady Hawks in the first half. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Amber Cook connects on the three for the Lady Hawks in the first half. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


HICKORY FLAT – The Lady Hawks of Myrtle blew open their game with Falkner with a 17-0 run during the first 4:05 of the second period and went on to win big in the Division 2-1A Tournament opener by a score of 74 to 48.
Faulkner tried to close the huge gap after the Lady Hawks went up 35-11, but could get no closer than 15 points down at 39-24 in the third quarter before the Lady Hawks stretched the lead back to a comfortable 56-34 margin after three.
Ivory Montgomery had a game high 24 points to lead the Lady Hawks. Jessica Floyd hit for 18 and Geniesha Montgomery scored 16 points.
Myrtle advances to play number two seed Ashland on Thursday at 4:00.
Ivory Montgomery scores on the layup for Myrtle as teammate Jessica Floyd trails the play.

Ivory Montgomery scores on the layup for Myrtle as teammate Jessica Floyd trails the play.

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.

Gooch and Thompson power Lady Falcons to win

Lauren Thompson launches her three-run homer in the second inning. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Lauren Thompson launches her three-run homer in the second inning. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


Morgan Gooch led the Lady Falcons with four RBIs on Tuesday. Photo by Dennis Clayton.

Morgan Gooch led the Lady Falcons with four RBIs on Tuesday. Photo by Dennis Clayton.


BY DENNIS CLAYTON
DUMAS – Morgan Gooch and Lauren Thompson drove in seven runs for Ingomar on Tuesday as the Lady Falcons downed Pine Grove 11-6 in non-division play.
Gooch drove in four runs with a double and single while Thompson hit a three-run homer and singled. Thompson scored four runs for the Lady Falcons.
Ingomar struck in the first inning on RBIs by Gooch, Alex Wilhite and Kelly Fooshee.
The Lady Falcons added three more runs in the second off Thompson’s moonshot home run over the left field fence.
Pine Grove scored a run in the third and added three more in the fourth to close within two runs, but Ingomar got RBIs from Fooshee (double) and Kelly Mayo (single) to extend the lead to 8-4 in the top of the fifth.
Gooch’s bases-loaded double drove in three runs in the sixth and later she appeared to beat the throw to the plate on Wilhite’s hit, but was called out on a high tag.
Pine Grove added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, but were never able to overcome the early Ingomar lead. Kelly Mayo led Ingomar with three hits while Gooch, Thompson and Wilhite had two hits apiece.
Carson Grisham was the winning pitcher for the Lady Falcons.
.